Kia ora koutou. My name is Vicky Ellison and I’m going to share with you today some activities to support whānau in their parenting. We’ve got Kahukura here, who is 20 months old. She’s going to show us how you can enjoy some of these activities.
So, right from birth, children learn about their world through their senses: what they see, what they hear, what they touch, taste and smell. This sensory learning carries right on through. Kahukura at 20 months old is learning to use her hands and her eyes together much more easily than she did when she was first born. Some of the things that we’ve got to share with her today are posting activities where she gets to use her hands and her eyes together to practise as they become more efficient.
Posting activities can be simple things from around the home. The pegs in the milk bottle, that’s a great one. Hand/eye co-ordination very simply made. We’ve used some wooden pegs here that somebody found. Just be aware that sometimes pegs can be a bit pinchy for little fingers. Pegs that aren’t so easy to hurt you are the best ones to use.
Can you put this in here Kahukura? Titiro ki a nan. Tahi... oh, one more? Rua... Hey, any more? One more? Oh, it’s stuck. She’s actually doing that with her left hand, probably because her right hand’s holding something. We notice - her mum and I - that she’ll use both hands but at this age it’s a bit early to make a decision around is she going to be right dominated or left dominated. Ta... ehara mo te kai. Arā... oh, two at a time. Perhaps I’ll hold the spoon shall I? Ta. Two, āe. Rua, toru... any more? Ah, now what. The fun about putting things in, you get to take them out again as well.
Kahukura’s been known to sit for 15 minutes at home with our peg apron and an empty milk container. Simple fun. What it’s doing is, it’s developing connections in her brain through the repetition. It’s developing that hand/eye co-ordination that she will use when she goes on to do drawing, handwriting - all of those simple things that are developing a base for her future learning with some more posting activities.
Here we go. The Gladwrap tube. This is a tricky one because you poke them in and they come out the other end. Can you put them in here? One... you tip it up. Oh, two, eh, āe. Rua... Oh, it’s dirty on the end it’s got playdough on it. Āe, there we are, give me that. Titiro... auē! Here’s another problem to be solved. A posting container that’s got a hole in the bottom.
I’ve got one more little posting activity I want to share before we finish. The ice-cream container, a simple posting activity, when people are little. You just put them straight in (the items). Āe, roll it, roll it, as they get a bit bigger and a bit more developed in their hand/eye co-ordination we can put different size and different shape openings and have a range of things to put in them. Oh, kaua e kai... oops. Anei. Ah, ka pai, me tēnei. Problem-solving at its best.
Titiro ki a nan, kia pēnei... ka taea e koe. Yay! Posting. One more. You want to have a balance of challenge and support. You see them getting frustrated you help a little bit. Pīrangi anō? Whoosh. We’ve got a bit too many toys out for her to choose from at the moment. That’s another thing, just keep things simple, simple choices for this age. Woah!
Oh, ehara pai mō te kai. Ko te parāoa pokepoke tākaro tēnei, that’s playdough. You have to roll it, roll it. Āe, poke it. Ka taea e koe te poke it me tō ringaringa? Oh, i te fork. One of the things with new experiences like parāoa pokepoke tākaro, or playdough, is that pēpi may not want to touch it with her fingers. So, we offer her instruments. Let her have a stick or a spoon or a fork, something to touch it with, as her play. Oh, ehara pai mō te kai. Āe, pretending, nē, mō te pēpi. Me tīkina pēpi. Tērā pea pīrangi ia he kai, ae.
With her ‘pretend’ play that’s another area that playdough is a perfect resource for, or real play if you have a little test. But what’s she’s doing is she’s manipulating the playdough, she’s going through activities that she does everyday, eating. Ehara pai mō te kai, nē. Āe, mō te roll it. So, pretend play playdough can be involved in pretend play. It can be part of the cooking, the pretending to cook. It can be a resource to sit alongside singing: roll it, pat it, mark it with a ‘K’, put it in the oven for Kahukura and me.
The playdough, the parāoa pokepoke tākaro, can be used in the constructive play as well. So, here we go we’re going to build ourselves a snow person, or we’re going to make it into a hamburger. We’re going to change the format of this playdough into something. It’s still keke, yeah, keke mō te kai; ehara pai mō te kai.
Children go through stages of play. As I said, the first stage is sensory motor play, and that’s basically doing things with their body and from birth: reaching, grasping, banging. With their mouths, babbling, cooing, smiling. Those are all sensory experiences. They move into this pretend play, or known as symbolic play, where they might use things symbolically, something like the piece of cane here. Kia ora, kei konei koe Kahukura? Oh, taihoa, ko daddy. Pīrangi ki te kōrero ki tō pāpā? So, using items as real things.
Play can be solitary, children just playing on their own. It can be play alongside somebody else, another child, particularly in the age that Kahukura is at. Ehara pai mō te kai, homai ki a nan. She doesn’t necessarily play with somebody but she might play alongside another child. Parallel play that’s called, and then there’s play together where we’re doing something and sharing an activity.
Keke. Āe, ehara pai mō te kai. Yay! Praising children’s attempts when they do achieve or give things a try. That’s a way to encourage continued play and continued play means continued learning.
One of the things about play with young children there’s always a safety aspect. Remembering to check things for sharp edges, for broken pieces, things that could be a choking hazard. As you can see Kahukura wants to eat this lovely yellow parāoa pokepoke, playdough, but it’s very salty and it’s not very nice. Normally a couple of mouthfuls children twig onto that idea that it’s not the greatest thing to eat. Some take a bit longer than others but there’s nothing in it: salt, oil, flour. That’s not going to do too much damage with a little mouthful that she’s having there now.
Little bags full of a range of textures, a range of weights for babies to explore. Eh, that’s no good to eat, that’s too hard. He toka, that’s a rock. What else in the bag Kahukura? What is it? Oh, he anga, a shell. Āe, he pai mō te kai tēnei? Oh, āe, he pipi. Kua pau te pipi. Āe, all gone.He aha ēnei mea i roto nā. Natural resources are a great free and easy accessible tool as you can see. You can have that symbolic play going on with your shells. We can use shells as mathematics learning... big, smaller, smaller again. There’s seriation and nesting in a simple pāua shell activity. The same with our harakeke toys we’ve got here. We’ve got bigger squares and we’ve got smaller squares somewhere else but I can’t find them at the moment. The same with the rocks - bigger, smaller.
These are all things that we’ll talk about while we’re playing with our children. We’re playing alongside them. Sometimes we let them lead and that’s actually quite an important thing for us adults to get our heads around. That sometimes adults think that they drive all the play but actually sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and let our children take the lead, let them be the tuakana in the play. You’re counting. Ta.
One of the other activities that we do with a hand/eye co-ordination focus, like from the posting and the nesting, is throwing using balls. Balloons are particularly good for little aged children where the ball moves slowly. Kei hea te pōro that I made for you? Paper balls. Ka whiua koe? Something that you can chuck around the lounge at home that’s not going to cause much damage. Sometimes you have rules in your house about where you play with balls; balls are outside. But if it’s raining outside and you want to have some motor activity, some large motor, arms and legs, paper balls are a great thing, as are balloons. Whiua, whiua, woh! Tīkina. Giving children something to aim at, something as simple as the washing basket in the corner. Woh! Tīkina.
This little tool we use it’s not actually a child’s activity although she’d probably enjoy playing with it. What we use this for is actually when we’re teaching about brain development and the delicacy of a child’s brain inside their skull. If we were to shake a baby or a toddler, vigorously, you can see what happens to the brain inside their skull. It crashes around and bashes around inside. We get to a point sometimes where we’re overwhelmed with our children’s behaviour. Crying, crying, and more crying. It can really drive you to distraction, but never shake a baby. We can do so much permanent damage to their brain. Get some help, ring a friend, go for a walk. If you’ve got a buggy that’s the best place, get a bit of stress relief. If it’s really severe and you can’t get out of the house put baby in the cot and just come away. It can be really frustrating, I know. I know from experience. But if you can find yourself just a little break it’s really, really helpful.
One of the good things about pretend play is that you can practise some of those things that are not much fun, maybe a bit scary. Like having your hair washed or having your knots brushed, going to the doctor, those sorts of things. Pretend play allows you to have a no pressure practise. You brush your hair? Oh, whakapai tana karu. Āe, paraihe ana makawe, toothbrushing. Those things that sometimes take a bit of encouragement with this age you can practise and pēpi gets to be the boss. She gets to be the tuakana. Oh, pēpi, kia tūpato. Āe, kei hea tana whatu? Āe, tō whatu. Kei hea tōna ihu? Āe, tō ihu; āe, te ihu o pēpi. Āe, it’s te upoko. Kei hea tana makawe? Āe, tō makawe, tana makawe.
Easy, simple learning, all in a game way. As I said, mā te tākaro ka ako. Children learn through play. This second year of life which we’re focusing on in these activities, there’s a lot of emotional learning. A lot of learning about dealing with our emotions, the whole tantrums, the saying ‘no’ are common in this time and stage that Kahukura’s at. So, being able to be involved in some pretend play around some of those challenges and we get to practise while we’re in a good space some of the things that might be not much fun at another time.
One of the other great ways to extend our children’s language is a strategy called parallel play. What that simply means is you giving a description of what your child is doing. So, Kahukura’s being cheesy, eh? You’re brushing baby’s hair? Bubba. If you want an example of parallel talk imagine you are talking to pēpi’s nana or koro or dad on the phone and, ‘Oh, what’s baby doing?’ You’re just describing. ‘Oh, she’s sitting on nana’s knee and she’s got the hairbrush in her hand, and she’s going to brush baby’s hair.’ What you’re doing is you’re providing the language alongside the actions. She’s hearing about what she’s doing. Oh, pēpi.
The other strategy we use for developing language is called a stretch talk. Kahukura says, ‘bubba,’ and I say, ‘Āe, he pēpi ātaahua.’ So I stretch on the word that she’s said, bubba, and I say, ‘Yes, it’s a beautiful baby.’ So you extend, they call it stretch talk. The other strategy is self-talk, and that’s what I’m doing. Oh, nana’s counting the pegs, tahi, rua, toru. Āe, nana’s putting them in the basket. Tahi... and Kahukura is helping. Again, language to action.
Another wonderful way to learn language with this aged children is through waiata, through song. They can be calming songs, they can be about familiar people. Moe, moe pēpi, moe, moe, rā. Moe, moe Kahukura, moe, moe rā. Ah, me kihikihi, want kihi pēpi? Ah, ka pai. Routines like going to bed. Haere... Sometimes people say you’ve got to be a good singer. No. You’ve got to be happy to sing with children and in front of children. Make up the songs, you could make the words up about familiar people. Ka haere mai a māmā akuanei. Ka haere mai a koro. Oh, haere mai pēpi. Me kihikihi pēpi. Ah. Me awhiawhi hoki? Āe, awhiawhi, ah, pēpi. If you can use te reo Māori so much the better because her brain is open to all language learning so long as she hears it regularly she’ll be able to speak and respond.
In our house I only try and speak Māori to Kahukura so she has that language pathway built from when she was born. The rest of our family speak a mixture of English and Māori so she’s getting exposure to those two languages, and this is the time to learn a language. Any of us who have struggled with learning a second language will know that it’s a lot harder when we’re an adult. Kōrero Māori i ngā wā katoa.
One of the beauties about waiata with children is that the repetition in the words. Again we know that it’s repetition that builds strong connections in the brain. We get language, we get the exposure to te reo Māori for waiata here. We get strong connections in the brain. We get to learn about patterns, we have a repeating song. Pakipaki, pakipaki tamariki mā. There’s patterns to be learnt, mathematical concept of pattern. We get the enjoyment of singing and moving our bodies. It’s so much fun. If you’re singing with somebody else, a part of a group, all that social learning.
Anybody that’s had children at kōhanga reo and gone to a kōhanga concert, it’s a beautiful thing to see a group of little two, three, four-year olds all enjoying being together, learning the reo, singing together, having actions. Being able to co-ordinate singing, movement and remembering the words that’s a lot of learning. Anyone that says, ‘Oh, they weren’t learning, all they were doing was singing.’ Well, we know. They were actually learning a lot and they were having fun and they were recognising their identity as Māori children. That’s one of the best things that you can have.