Thursday, November 15, 2012


Socks.  That's read correctly.  Socks.  Who knew there was so much learning in socks?

Simply.  you also read correctly.  This is a very simple, this is not a post announcing an earth shattering new way for young children to learn.  It is just a reminder that there IS learning in the VERY simple!

Let me set the scene:  The mystery word on this particular day was "mix".  After having fun mixing ourselves and organizing us in different ways (See my Facebook page, "Play Counts" to learn more of our everyday adventures ) we moved on to mixing up socks. 

Simply, Socks #1:  mix and match, find the pairs.   I just mixed up the socks and tossed them all around the room ( the children love it when I do this!!).   When I was finished, the word "Go!" or sometimes the words "Match them!" started the fun!  I have added an element of time to this as well with the use of a stop watch.  It's a nice way to throw some math into the fun:  number recognition, function and measurement.  Each time we see if we can match all of the socks quicker then we did before.

While doing this, a child or two would return to the bucket with a sock on their hand.  This sparked another idea, and a way to use socks to strengthen those all important small motor muscles!

Simply Socks #2:  Once again, I scattered the socks, but the directions changed.   See how many socks you can put on ONE hand!!  Take a look at the pictures below to see the focus, determination, coordination and muscle strength this took:

I love observing children taking part in activities at THEIR level!
  This is 2 yr old Trillian....he is still figuring out all the wonderful things his hands do, and how to make them do said wonderful things. 
Following a child's lead,  and letting them learn through spontaneous moments meets children right where they are!

Ethan is adding his fourth sock.  At this point the process is quite challenging.  Look at his face though....he doesn't show any signs of giving up does he!!?

This was HARD work!  When all the socks were on hands, we counted as each child pulled off the socks one at a time.  Patience, consideration, more small motor work and counting are just a few of the things I observed during this.

The children had anywhere from one sock to four socks on their hand.  I was most impressed.  The natural flow of our morning lead to one more activity.  It's basically the same as what we just did, but using TEAMWORK!  Any time I can get my children to work together, I go for it.  Cooperating and working together is such an important, even priceless life-long skill!

Simply Socks #3:  Working together!  Repeat #2, but work together.  One friend hold open the sock, while the other pushes their hand in.  The photos below show you the benefits of teamwork:

The person holding the sock has to patiently hold the sock open, and still while the person putting their hand into the sock needs to use visual planning and determination.  Both have to remain focused on the task at hand.

In the end, Gavin had ELEVEN socks on his hand!!!  Look at their faces!!!  I believe this picture speaks for itself!  These are two focused children excited and proud to be accomplishing the task at hand!

When all the socks were used up, again....we pulled off the socks one at a time and counted!  It was so exciting to see how many socks we could fit on one hand using teamwork!

A few more ideas:

Simply Socks #4:  Put silly socks on over the socks the children brought...practicing makes perfect, and putting socks on our feet is hard work!
Simply Socks #5:  Put socks on hands and then pick up items off the floor.  Keep adding a sock to make the task more difficult!
Simply Socks #6:   Just "plop" the socks in the environment and see what ideas the children think of!  Their minds are far more creative and uninhibited then ours are!

SIDE NOTE:  A plop, by my own, self-made definition is (insert vision of me putting on instant, IQ-boosting spectacles and clearing my throat): an object, book, story, song or mystery word that is quietly placed (aka: plopped) into a child's environment while sharing no (zip, zero, none, notta) pre-conceived adult ideas in order to give ownership of discovery to children. The "plopper" is prepared for what could POSSIBLY happen...but is willing to drop those ideas in order to follow the usually BETTER possibilities a child's mind imagines!

There you have it.  I told you it wasn't an earth shattering post.  I do, however, hope it sparks your imagination, to once again, see the learning in the SIMPLE!

You just can't deny it....PLAY COUNTS!!!