As part of our breakfast table activities regime, we recently played with a couple of shape-based toys which dealt with colours, tessellation, building and of course shapes. With a bit of help it also gave their creativity and visualisation faculties an early morning workout.
OK, so Indi was playing with the Octons and Etienne went with a cheap version of marble madness. We have a bigger marble set but this small set better suits his age.
Octons come in bright and varied colours and the child simply slots them together to form shapes. It’s not long before you attach enough for a structure to form and stand up on its own.
It is easy enough to join the pieces, and the shapes can be abstract or can form something recognisable. Following Indi’s spider above, or was it a flower, I tried to make a car which almost worked, then I just kept adding more octons until I saw something else. Seeing the object build and connect was satisfying and Indi was able to solve balance problems by considering where to place the next octon.
On another morning we pulled out the shapes pot from Learning Resources. This transparent bucket of fun is fast becoming a favourite for the kids. Full of plastic shapes but only about 6 shapes in all, sized so they tessellate with ease.
Both kids found this easy and fun. Even Eti, who is 2, can make a picture, and understood which ones to combine to make a solid shape, matching sides of equal length. Patterns quickly form as they place more pieces down, or with a little planning you create a less obvious pattern. All the same, it was very 2D and I’m a 3D kind of man, so while they laid theirs down I stood mine up. This inspired a new round of building.
This was an early idea from Indi. It didn’t look like anything but that wasn’t important, the main focus was now the height of the tower. Unlike the octagon sculptures that didn’t resemble anything either, these towers could topple at any moment and balancing objects turned out to be more fun than connecting them.
Here’s two more buildings that soon followed. Both had Indi thinking about structure and balance. They were a little like the Angry Birds game you can buy. So we could have extended this by bringing out the catapult and birds, placing the piggies on the structures and then spent about 10 minutes trying to get a bird to hit the tower! For some reason the kids struggle with the concept of pulling a catapult back at anything less than maximum power!
This morning Eti brought the shapes bucket down to the breakfast table himself, so we dug a few pieces out and within a minute rather than a pattern we created a scene, a mountainous island and a house on the mainland, either side of a deep blue ocean, under a big yellow sun with a few clouds. Next we animated out a story. A giant lived on the hill, banished from the mainland long ago. An inquisitive young boy lived in the house who heard about the giant and sailed his boat across the sea to get a closer look. As he approached the island the giant jumped out and tried to get on his boat to escape. Unfortunately he slipped off the deck and into the sea. The boy quickly sailed back to the mainland and the giant managed to reach out to a tree on the island and haul himself out of the water.
Well we made it up on the spot so what do you expect! 🙂
They’re probably twice the price but infinitely more useful. As well as shapes, colours, patterns and buildings, we can use them for fractions.