Category Archives: Care of Environment

The Key to Nurturing Divergent vs. Linear Thinkers

A.J.’s imagination and creativity are flourishing more and more each day. He turns any item into a drum, lines up his stuffed animals to participate in  Circle Time, simulates watering plants with his rice milk carton and the list goes on.

I want to do everything that I can to foster his curiosity and imagination  so that he can become a divergent thinker, but one who can also think linearly when necessary.

Melissa Taylor of Imaginationsoup sums up the concepts of divergent and linear thinking quite well:

“Linear thinkingor convergent thinking, is about learning facts, following instructions, and solving problems with one right answer. Certainly it has it’s place. Math is an example of convergent thinking. Standardized tests are convergent as is the IQ test.”

She goes on to say, Divergent thinking is generating unique solutions and seeing various possibilities in response to questions and problems.”

So what’s the key to nurturing divergent thinkers? Encourage imaginative play. It turns the ordinary into something extraordinary, at least in my little one’s eyes!

Q-tip painting – I first saw painting with Q-tips at La classes della maestra Valentina.  And then my imagination began to soar by thinking about all the different types of every day tools that we can use to paint, such as: bobby pins, cotton balls, contain lids, string, and pipe cleaners, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to the exploration!

Tearing paper – What great fun! But is not as easy as one may expect for a 16-month old. Although A.J. tore a few pieces by himself, he is still grasping the hand motion. I helped him by holding one end of the paper and letting him tear. By practicing this activity he will strengthen his Circular Wrist Motion. We ended by using our imagination to turn paper into snow.

A.J. huddled his furry friends close by during this activity. He wants them to play, too! I encourage him to talk with his furry pals and to show them what he is learning.

A.J. dumped the paper on the floor and played with it for a little while. We put the pieces back into the bowl. Then I started to pretend that it was snow and dumped the "snow" on A.J.

It's snowing! (What ever that is!)

He helped me put the paper back into the bowl.

Sweeping the floor – A.J. loves to sweep the floor. He has his own broom and enjoys this aspect of Caring for his Environment. What was special is that I turned the broom into a microphone and began to sing to A.J. He got a kick out of this and serenaded me back using his broom as a mic!

A.J. sweeping the floor.

He is simulating putting trash in the garbage can. Gotta love it!

Using the broom as a microphone.

I know that it will be important for me remain conscious of not becoming, too focused on A.J. memorizing and “getting the one right answer.” Reading Melissa’s post was a refreshing reminder of the importance of fostering children’s imagination and I hope this post is a refreshing reminder to you, too!

How do you nurture your child’s imagination?


7 Activities That Demonstrate How Water Play Develops Important Skills

Oooooh. Nice looking ice, Mommy!

1. Melting Colored Ice in Warm Water – Although it is winter, I want A.J. to experience some water play outside of the bathtub. The Mommysaver blog shared this neat colored ice idea. However, instead of adding the ice to bath water as the site recommends, I decided to put the cubes in a large bowl. I added warm water so that A.J. could watch and feel the ice cubes melt. The bright colors (which quickly turned dark), texture of the ice, and warm water all fascinated him.

I was so enthralled by his reaction that I didn’t point out the colors. Next time I most definitely will. This activity reinforces color recognition.

Ice melting in warm water.

Ice is cold.

2. Scooping Ice – helps toddlers perfect their three-finger (pincer) grasp which is important for writing. This is a fine motor skill development activity that will help toddlers gain better control over their arm and hand movements. I dumped the melted ice and added the colored ice without water.

Scooping the ice into a bowl.

Yay for me!

Ooooh Gosh this is fun, but my hands are freezing from playing with the ice!

3. Pouring – is another fine motor skill act. However, it encompasses the whole hand and in Montessori education, this would be considered a Whole hand Grasping activity.

I'm helping Mommy to water the plants.

Since A.J. is watering a plant, Montessori educators would also categorize this activity as practicing Care of the Environment. Other activities that fall under this category are:

  1. Sweeping the floor
  2. Mopping the floor
  3. Cleaning spills
  4. Wiping a table
  5. Washing a dish
  6. Drying a dish
  7. Washing a cup
  8. Drying a cup

4. Wringing a Washcloth or Sponge – This is when things went a little awry. A.J. flung the sponge and water went flying every where. He thought this was funny. Wringing a washcloth for a pre-toddler is challenging because it requires a circular wrist motion, a skill that needs practicing in order to be strengthenend.

After a few minutes of playing with the sponge, A.J. turned the water bowls upside down and began drumming on them. Anything with a flat bottom is at risk of becoming a drum!

Hmmmm, I wonder what sound this new drum will make?

5. Cleaning Spills – is an important part of caring for your environment and teaching this skill so that it becomes a habit for kids is crucial.

Wiping a spill.

6. Spray & Play – I leave a spray bottle with water on the shelf so that A.J. can give it to me anytime he wants me to chase and spray him. I enjoy listening to him squeal with laughter as I chase him around the house. The water is gentle and comes out in a light mist. I especially like to spray him so that he can get accustomed to water unexpectedly getting onto his face. Being comfortable with water in your face is important when learning how to swim. The running also helps him with his Gross Motor Skills.

7. Carrying a Bucket of Water – Actually, this could be carrying a bucket of anything. I haven’t done this with A.J. yet, but I plan to do it soon. Carrying a bucket develops Control of Movement, another area of development in Montessori education.

While the water play activities mentioned here all have latent skill building components, having fun is the surest way to get your toddler doing these activities again and again.

What fun indoor water play have you had with your tot lately?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!