Sunday, 6 November 2011

Ocean mat and everything that came with it

As I was saying in my previous post, now knowing where to go with our current situation, I decided to give a try at different things and see what my children would get an interest in.  To start myself, I knew would at least work for E, and opened my big book of ideas that I have gathered since many years, and just went with what I felt like doing.  The Ocean mat came to mind (I guess I needed to escape the cold for a little bit longer I guess...)

I remembered seeing one on the very good blog "what did we do all day", and thought the idea was super interesting. Fast forward to now, since I had some felt here, I go decided to give it a go.

To play along, I got the huge ocean toob from Safari lmt.  What I love about those toobs, is that they are rather versatile in what we can do with them, as you will be able to see.

Why did I choose this project?  For many reasons.  I had no idea if my kids were going to find an interest in it or not.  But *I* had one for this project.  I work really close to nature and wildlife animals, and so I went with something that made me happy. (and that I had fun doing)

Glad I got this activity together, because this one has been a hit for E, and a bonus, for the other 2 as well.  They all use it very differently, but they all do.  And I have to admit that setting an activity that is so versatile in terms of age interest really is a thrill. That has really set my spirits up for other new and exciting projects.

Here is an account of how all 3 of my children have been using this mat.  Nothing was presented to them, nothing was demonstrated or suggested from my part.  It all came spontaneously to them.

E (15 months)  and the ocean mat:

He is basically using it as a giant mat to put the figures on.

We also started to do a lot of naming with him in both french and english.  This game started when he was bringing the figures and saying something.  Then I was just saying the name, and he went to pick another and another...

He also loves to just empty and fill the tube.

Putting in, and getting out... I don't think that is going to change anytime soon...

M (4yo) and the ocean mat

She plays rather differently with it.

She is more interested into sorting the animals according to were they live (bottom or top of the sea), their similarities, can they live on the ground or not... She asked me loads of questions before she started to do this.
It has lead to many interesting discussion, notably about amphibians, and reptiles (which are a big things right now in our home for a reason you'll see later)
We are also using them for our non stop game of I spy...(that has been going on for weeks now, and this is something that has not stop.  I don't think she sees it as Montessori, as it does not require material per se)

Of course, she is also playing with it by making scenes, and stories. That is a big part of her play

X (6 yo) and the ocean mat

He started by playing with it for a couple of times (doing scenes and building a story).  But this quickly turned into an exploration unit.
He has been asking a lot about the differences between amphibians, reptiles and fish, who can breathe where, why the various colors and so on because he didn't know where to fit them in his scenes of what they could do in his stories..  We have gotten a few books out the library on the topic.
It also raised questions about the species that are endangered (there is a beluga in there, and belugas lives here, and are endangered).

But, he is also using the mat (well, the figures really) to practice writing while learning the exact name of the species.  This started by a simple"Mom, what is the real name of that?" and he felt like writing it down, and we ended up by writing the names of all of them, and he started to categorizing them many ways (he decided to cut the paper on which he wrote them and started to move them around).

These are the books we read on the topic:

A great story that basically shows which animals are oviparous.  M loved it.

And may I present you the individuals that fed a lot of our discussions?  I have to admit that having my kiddos meet these friends of mine kinda help to make the topic more lively and interesting ;)
burmese python, yes, she is gigantic
inside of the mouth of the said burmese python.
beautiful water dragon

All I can say at this point (and remind myself of)  is: follow the child.  You have no idea when this can lead you, and I am starting to feel that this is the best part of it!


  1. Eva loves books, thanks for posting about the french title. We love the French language.

  2. Thanks for your comment Charissa. I'm working on making a list of french books that we love. Hopefully, that will help people who are interested in french books. :) SO stay tuned!