Don’t Throw That Styrofoam Away!
The next time you get some equipment packed in Styrofoam blocks, grab it! It’s the basis of a perfect toy.
Next, you’ll need to get golf teas. You can get them at any sports shop. Get them in every color that they have!
The game is to stick the tees in the Styrofoam, but you probably won’t have to tell them. As any parent will attest, for little ones, sticking things into things comes naturally.
If your little one doesn’t have the strength yet, make it easier by making the holes ahead of time. Push a tee all the way in and pull it back out. Make a possible porcupine by putting holes all around the Styrofoam block.
Your excited child will see a glorious heap of colorful sticks and perfect holes to poke.
We’ll see a child increasing her eye-hand coordination and lengthening her ability to focus
If you want to make it a little harder for the older child, make it a hammering game. You could use the same golf tees or you could use penny nails from the hardware store. You could also get a small tack hammer there. Or you could use a toy plastic hammer or even a rock. Learning to hit a nail with a hammer takes the ability to persevere and keep trying. Another good skill.
Want more challenge for your child or have an older sibling? Get out the screwdriver. Screws go more easily into Styrofoam than they do in wood. And kids learn how to use their forearms for more strength.
Styrofoam blocks provide just the right amount of resistance to hold a golf tee upright but respond immediately to any hammer blows, so the beginner only has to hammer lightly to see results.
Take a block of Styrofoam and press in the tips of golf tees so that the head of the tee and most of its length protrudes. Place the tees 2-3 inches apart.
Give a child a small toy wooden hammer, or a tack hammer, or any hammer you feel comfortable with him using. Or, if you don’t have a small size hammer, you can use a rock.
Show him how to hammer the tee into the block
Show him how he can pull the hammered tees back out of the Styrofoam, place them in another unused area of the block, and hammer again.
Once the process is learned, have the children take turns or have one child hand the tees to the other to pound. Or have the children take turns being the one who hammers and the one who pulls the tees out.
- Use screws and a screwdriver
- Don’t use a hammer, but have children press the tee in with their fingers.
- Use flat top roofing nails instead of golf tees
What is Being Learned
There’s nothing like hammering to hammer home the concept of eye-hand coordination. To be effective, you have to watch what you are doing!
Children get the experience of being part of another’s project by handing them the next tee.
Children who have difficulty sharing and taking turns might need to start this game by playing alone until they have had a satisfactory amount of turns. Once the newness wears off, they might be more willing to take turns.
Using the variation of pushing the tees in with their hands will work better for children who do not yet have the eye-hand coordination to aim the hammer. If you use this method, place the tee in an already made hole so that it slips down more easily
Barbara Sher M.A.,O.T.R, an occupational therapist and author of nine books on children’s games. Titles include EARLY INTERVENTION GAMES SPIRIT GAMES and EXTRAORDINARY PLAY WITH ORDINARY THINGS.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2015 Magazine