We have several baskets on our playroom shelves that have many natural items in. These are always being explored and used. The objects get added to other play items and imaginations are sparked. Pine cones become trees, curtain rings become bangles and shells become boats!
I recently found out the meaning of Heuristic play from another childminder, who wrote on her facebook page……
“ The word ‘heuristic’ comes from the Greek ‘Eureka’ meaning discovery,
and so the purpose of Heuristic Play is to find out and discover
by trial and error. ”
I have always liked the idea of the children in my care exploring the textures and weights of these natural items. The taste and smells of some of them too. It is something that is very much lacking in modern plastic toys. I remember a training course I attended some time ago, that stated the importance of exposing children to as many textures, tastes and sensory experiences as possible. All these experiences build neural pathways in the young child’s developing brain. The more these pathways are used the more they are reinforced. They become a well trodden path between and image, smell, sound etc, and the word associated with it. These help children to remember and learn, to make sense of the world around them. When a baby see’s it’s mothers face and hears the word Mummy, it knows firmly that the face they see is that of their mummy!
A child who experiences the properties of natural items will make more neural pathways than a child who is just exposed to soft, shinny plastic! Natural items have a wide variety of textures, weights, tastes, smells and shapes. It is a much richer experience than a cold plastic toy with flashing lights and loud artificial, electronic sounds.
This week, our Heuristic resources have been explored a lot! They have been mixed with our wooden animals, trees and people. Discovering through trial and error has been apparent throughout. Things have been lined up in a way, so as to accommodate other items, objects have been balanced, they have fallen and then been re-balanced, items have been placed inside other items, will they fit? should we choose another pot to put this in? how many of these can I get in to the bowl? The possibilities and learning opportunities are endless!