The development of touch and taste discrimination is also important and you can encourage this by playing a game of guess what youre eating? Blindfold her and let her taste familiar things like cheese, sugar, salt; then include less obvious items like grass, vinegar, flour. Learning to describe sour and sweet and raw and cooked, and so on, is good for discrimination. You can do the same with smells.

Another guessing game you can play is whats in the bag? Put a few objects such as a cotton reel, spoon, lid and bottle in a bag and let her put her hand in and guess what she is feeling. Later on you can try to promote memory by asking her to remember what was in the bag, or how many things. Dont put too many things in the bag or the game will be too difficult.

You can also help her develop classification skills, for instance by letting her sort buttons or cotton reels into colours and sizes. Remember that all these projects need only be done occasionally or they will lose their novelty for you and your child. No mother should feel that she should be doing educational exercises with her child all the time. There is nothing to be gained by forcing yourself or your child. Opportunity for creative play is also important and if your child goes to a nursery school or good playgroup she should have plenty of opportunity for this.

Sand (washed river sand) used wet or dry. Sieves to encourage the use of fine muscles; funnels, moulds (yoghurt cups work well); plastic spade and spoons are good for manipulating the sand.

Water. Things to pour it with. Punch holes in the sides of a light plastic cup and let her see the water spurt out; make a slide from a plastic tube for things to be posted into the water. Blow bubbles into the water through a straw.

Junk in the form of milk bottle tops, empty boxes, bits of wool and the like can be used to stick on to stiff paper to form a collage.

Homemade glue. Mix white flour with water until it has the consistency of double cream. This will stick most light objects to paper.

Very adhesive homemade glue. Put a cupful of white flour into a piece of muslin and hold under running cold water. The water will wash away the starch if you knead the bag. When the water runs clear, put the flour in a glass bowl and allow to dry. Use as needed by chipping off pieces of hardened glue and adding water. Work it until you have the right gluey consistency. This glue can be stored without refrigeration and holds well.

Playdough. Moulding and making shapes with the hands is always popular. Bought playdough is good but fairly expensive if you use a lot. You can make your own very successfully with two cups of white flour, half a cup of salt and a few drops of salad oil. Add a li’tle food colouring if you like. Mix to a smooth dough with water and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. A rolling pin and pastry cutters are useful. Spread a piece of oilcloth or have a plastic or wooden board for her to work on.

Finger paints. You will need food colouring or powder paints in the three primary colours, blue, yellow and red, or any colours you have; 1V2 cups laundry starch; 1 litre boiling water; IV2 cups soap flakes or finely grated pure green soap. Mix the starch with a little cold water in a pot, add boiling water and cook, stirring all the time, until the mixture becomes thick and transparent. When the mixture has cooled, divide, then pour into glass jars and colour each differently.


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