May 2, 2014

Building Fences: A Farm Invitation to Play

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Happy Fine Motor Fridays! In keeping with our farm theme, I set up this fun fine motor invitation to play for Kingston this week based on building fences. Using a serving tray that I picked up at the Dollar Tree recently, I filled the center hole with farm animals from Kingston's Little People Fun Sounds Farm and Fisher-Price Little People Farm Pond and Pig Pen Playset. The surrounding compartments were filled with his fencing materials: fencing from the above Little People farm sets, Foam Wood-Grained Blocks, Mega Bloks, and jumbo craft sticks.

When I presented K with the invitation to play, he was immediately enthralled in the building components. I explained to him that we were going to build fences for the farm animals. Being a literal toddler and hearing me say the word "fence", drew him immediately to the fencing pieces that he was familiar with. He recognized the traditional fencing pieces and got to work building a pen for his animals. 

We talked about the shapes of enclosures, the concept that a fence used to hold an animal needed to not have any openings, and about how certain animals live apart and others can live together. Kingston built his first enclosure and we counted the sides and pointed out that it was a square. He was adamant that all of the animals live together in the one conventional pen. 

I began building a fence using the craft sticks, and K didn't hesitate to join right in. All of the fencing materials utilized his fine motor skills, but the craft sticks were the most challenging for him to build in a straight line. They are light weight and thin, and he had to work to place them gently without breaking the enclosure. We spent some time counting the craft sticks and sorting them before a pig was placed inside. The pig didn't live in this new fencing structure for long though, as K quickly shuffled him back in with the other animals. 

Next we made block fencing with the foam blocks. This activity was incredibly useful for his spatial reasoning skills. It was interesting to see how he preferred the fencing as opposed to what would typically be built. The foam block fencing allowed us to chat about rectangles and compare this structure to the square fencing we had previously made. Horse and pig frolicked in that pen for all of 30 minutes...

...before they were escorted back into the crowded enclosure! My toddler would not make a very ethical farmer. Talk about lack of "free range"! 

The Mega Bloks were the last fencing medium that we used to build. Unlike the more natural fencing options we had used previously, these were brightly colored and allowed us to bring a quick color lesson into the activity. Each of the different blocks we used forced K to use a different grip while building. This was great for exercising his fine motor skills. 

While we built our fences, we listened to Down on Grandpa's Farm. After that song, a song about a wolf came on. K has a current wolf obsession, so we started chatting about what purpose fences serve and how they protect animals from predators. We engaged in pretend play and imagined that a wolf was coming to get the animals and we had to build the fences quickly! This was Kingston's concerned face as he says, "MAMA A WOLF!!!" He's too funny!

Then he couldn't help turning the jumbo craft sticks into musical instruments. He tapped to the beat and danced for a bit. This activity ended up covering so many different subjects! 

And of course he couldn't resist a quick ham session! We played peek-a-boo with the fence and then he wore it as a bracelet. 

The rest of the activity was spent demolishing all of the structures we had built. What toddler doesn't like bulldozing right?! 

Thankfully my little destroyer helped me to put everything away! 

Don't forget to check out all of the other awesome Fine Motor Friday posts: 

Yarn Wrapped Tulips from School Time Snippets

Fine Motor Skills With Coins For Play and Learning from Little Bins For Little Hands

Recycle Sort: a Fine Motor Game from Stir the Wonder

Candy Shop: A Pretend Play Prompt from Still Playing School

Fine Motor Fridays Pinterest Board

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  1. Super adorable, Blayne! So many wonderful learning opportunities!

  2. Ha! I love your descriptions! Maybe he didn't want the animals to get lonely? ;)

  3. Love all the different types of materials you used to make the fences for the animals! Very creative idea : ) Great activity for budding-builders!

    1. Thank you Kristina!! My budding builder sure loved it! :)