In the Shed or Workshop
Note: With all activities, safety comes first. These activities need to be supervised by an adult and may need to be modified if you child has a lot of hand and arm strength.
One of the best places to find things to create Active Learning environment is the shed or workshop, the place you keep tools, ladders, nuts and bolts, rope, chain and all manner of interesting things. Active Learning emphasizes using a variety of materials (not just plastic toys) because they have different weight, temperature, texture, smell and taste. So take a tour of the things in your shed or workshop and see what you can create.
Some of the things you make from what you find in the shed are meant to be played with outside or in the house. Sometimes, depending on the child and the state of the shed, children may enjoy simply exploring under adult supervision. There are many interesting thing to explore and experiment with that make interesting sounds or do something interesting. Think about the wonderful times you might have spent hanging with dad or grandpa in his workshop.
Here is a “ladder mobile” that Sara Kitchen created from the things she found in her shed. On the mobile are an empty paint can, paint stirring stick, new paint brush, used paint brush, new paint rag, paint roller and new paint roller tube.
A mobile made by hanging things on a ladder. Some children who can sit independently may enjoy exploring these items. Make sure they will not try to pull up on the ladder unless it is secured so it won’t topple.
Make sure to secure the ladder so it will not topple if the child pulls at it. As with all activities, these should be supervised by an adult.
Crates and Buckets
While you are in your shed or workshop, search out crates or buckets that can be used for these fun Active Learning environments. Take an old milk crate or other container that has holes or slates. You can use this to create a tabletop mobile. If you don’t have a milk crate, get creative! Use a cardboard box or apple crate or any other thing that you think might work.
Insert a variety of objects that you might find in your workshop. For example, in these crates you will see such items as: carabiners, wrenches, C-clamp, sand paper, plastic bags, edging tape (painting), weed whacker filament, paint brushes and paint roller, PVC pipe, and socket wrench sockets.
This crate contains a chain of carabiners, paint rollers on wooden dowel and PVC pipe. One roller is modified by partially wrapping with edging tape. Paint brushes are hanging side-by-side for comparison. There are different grits of sand paper on bottom.
This crate has sand paper on two sides. Plastic bags are attached to the back. Socket wrench sockets are sealed inside the bags. Wrenches are hanging from a carabiner. Paint rollers are set in vertical format. Painter’s tape has been added to one of the paint rollers in strips.
In this crate the sand paper is placed at the back. A plastic paint can liner is attached to top and it makes an interesting sound when banged. Socket wrench sockets are strung on weed whacker filament. A wooden dowel has a c-clamp attached which can be turned. On the bottom there are plastic bags that can be pulled through; these are knotted to keep the child from being able to remove them.
An Echo Bucket can be used to work on reaching and grasping, but its primary purpose is to encourage vocalizing. In this example no objects are hung from the edge of the bucket, but his can be done by drilling holes along the opening edge and tying objects of interest to your child around the rim. You could also use duct tape or hot glue to connect the stings to the open rim of the bucket. The child can lie underneath with his head positioned under the bucket and near her face so that any vocalizations will echo in the bucket.
You can hang the bucket from the ceiling or in this case use a mop or broom handle or yardstick placed between two chairs. Secure the pole with duct tape or twine to help keep it in place.
You can use an eye bolt placed through the bottom of the bucket to attach it to a pole or rope. If you don’t have that, punch a small hole in the bottom of the bucket and insert a rope loop that has been knotted to keep it from slipping through the hole in the bucket.