Poking pins, August 2010
Our fun activity today was easy, very tidy and still time-consuming for the kids!

Today I had a two-year-old who needed some extra attention. Calista yearned for something to do while her sisters played more sophisticated games with their little people, so I started looking around for a quick and easy activity that would interest her.

After I opened our package today (we upgraded to a “real” microphone for Skyping — the Yeti), I had turned over the blocks of polystyrene that had protected the device and wondered what they could be used for. Surely, with creative minds in the house, these polystyrene bricks could have new life breathed into them.

So I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find anything satisfactory. I didn’t want to buy any more craft supplies, and my primary concern was that the girls didn’t start breaking up the bricks, leaving bits everywhere for the baby to eat.

But then I thought about the successes I’d had with offering my sewing stash to the girls to play with, plus Aisha’s current fascination with sewing.

So I brought out my pearl-headed pins and matched it with one of the polystyrene packaging blocks and gave them to Calista. I showed her how to poke the pins into the block, and as she got started, we were soon seriously looking at the colour of each pin.

Calista, 2yo, August 2010
Calista's preference was for the pink and purple shades, and she alternated between pulling them out of my make-shift pin-cushion (a teddy), putting them into the polystyrene block and then putting them all back into the teddy.

Calista, 2yo, August 2010
For the toddler, this activity encourages development of fine motor skills and colour identification.

Later on, when Calista had announced that she had had enough (after first teasing her sisters by hopping down and then back up again several times), it was Aisha’s and Brioni’s turns. I drew their names on the polystyrene blocks and encouraged them to follow the outlines of the letters.

Aisha, 5yo, August 2010
Aisha started out by tracing the letters of her name.

Brioni, 3yo, August 2010
Brioni worked on her own name too.

Brioni, 3yo, + Aisha, 5yo, August 2010
As they sat opposite each other at the table, the girls worked on their own projects. They were soon talking about each pin, swapping colours, discussing the merits of each and somehow determining that certain pins were "special".

I’m always amazed at how Aisha and Brioni can carry on lengthy conversations while they’re playing. They’re two old souls, chatting like old biddies — reliving conversations, analysing actions and emotions, disagreeing and then reaching a consensus.

Brioni is fiery and emotional, and Aisha is logical and rational. The two clash mightily but smooth things over very quickly. Isn’t that how all good friendships should be?

Poking pins, August 2010
Aisha's finished name.