That focused, seemingly insurmountable urge your child has for pouring things everywhere isn't completely rooted in her desire to annoy you. Pouring presents a range of fascinating reactions, from how quickly the objects fall to the sound they make and where they land. And, as you've probably noticed, the interest diminishes to zilch when that same tyke is asked to clean up whatever she poured. For your own sanity, give her some opportunities to learn how to pour responsibly.
Large solids are easiest to pour, and they won't make a mess if spilled. Always start by placing any pouring activities on a serving tray to contain accidents. Use dry kidney beans or, if your child is completely past the age of putting non-edibles in her mouth, hollow marble-size beads (real marbles might be too heavy). Find two pitchers that are the right size and weight for your child to handle easily. Place a few teaspoons of beans or beads inside one of the pitchers and place the other pitcher on the opposite end of the tray. Show your little one how to pour the contents between the pitchers by grasping the handle and supporting the pitcher from the bottom while tipping.
As she becomes more skilled at pouring, you can slowly increase the weight and reduce the individual size of the contents she's pouring, as this will help ease her into pouring actual liquid. While the previous exercise taught her the basic hand and arm motion of pouring, repeating the process with smaller, heavier grains -- like dried corn kernels and grains or rice -- helps build her muscle control as she maneuvers increasingly heavy pitchers. Place a funnel in the receiving pitcher if she struggles to successfully pour the smaller solids between.
Introduce liquid as a pouring material only when your child can pour small dry solids with almost no spills. Start with 1/4 cup of water in the pitcher and work your way up to larger amounts. Smaller amounts of water are easier to control and require less muscle strength when pouring. Use child-size pitchers made from clear plastic or thick glass so she can observe how the water pours between containers. Make it part of the activity to clean up spills with a sponge.
Realistic Liquid Distribution
Pouring water from a pitcher into three small cups is the most advanced type of pouring activity. Unlike previous activities where she could pour the entire pitcher in one movement, pouring water into multiple smaller cups requires your child to control the quantity she pours, while estimating how much water remains in the pitcher. Set the three smaller cups next to the pitcher and demonstrate the start-stop pouring motion as you distribute 6 ounces of water over three cups.
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