Thursday, June 14, 2012

Exploration with Bottle Caps and Lids

When I realized how many bottle caps and lids we throw away on a weekly basis (3 gallons of milk, 6 bottles of soda water, 12 squeezable applesauce pouches, etc...), I started saving them.  It wasn't long before my little collection had grown large enough to provide an entire morning's worth of entertainment for L and E (34 months)...

At first I let them explore the caps/lids completely on their own.  They enjoyed putting them into various containers, and pretending they were dog/bear food or miniature cups and plates.  As they spoke to each other (with me listening in) they described the lids by size and color, and compared quantities (I head things like "give me two little yellow caps", "this bowl has the most lids", etc..).  Then, to my surprise, they started sorting the lids!

This surprised me since they haven't shown interest in sorting objects since they were about 1.5 years old (I always sort things when we play and they usually resist when I ask them to join me).

I took out some playdough and joined them in their exploration.  They enjoyed making playdough impressions usuing the various caps:

They also decorated playdough cakes with their caps, and made cupcakes, sandwiches, and chocolates with the combination of playdough and bottle caps, as well.

I played with stacking the caps and the girls soon followed my lead:

They enjoyed forming different shapes with the smaller lids:

We even made The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and a funny man:

I incorporated some math activities into our playing, like putting a certain quantity of caps in my hand and asking them how many I had.  I also put the caps in different groups and asked them which group had more/less (which went perfectly with a Dinosaur Train game we played earlier on PBSKidsPlay.com involving collections of objects).  The girls discovered that they could put the caps on their fingers:

This turned into a math learning opportunity as well ("How many caps do you have?  How many of each color?  What happens if we take one away?").

Who would have thought that a couple bottle caps that we would have typically thrown away could produce so much fun and learning for kids?