Rolling rolling rolling! From the earliest days of infancy, children need experiences of different types of materials. Malleable materials can be transformed into different shapes and sizes, and their properties can be changed (e.g. by adding water).
Playing with malleable materials provides for thinking about shape, space and area – and the foundations of chemistry.
Malleable materials encourage children to use each of the five senses.
Experiences at Oxhill have been planned with the involvement of the Occupational Therapy Service to provide satisfying experiences for children with low-arousal (where sensory feedback has to be strong, in order to help the nervous system to a state of equilibrium – so children can bang, bash, and push hard) and equally to help children who have a highly-aroused nervous system (who are easily overwhelmed by sensory experiences, and so have to be introduced to them very gradually, perhaps a tiny dot of shaving foam on a fingertip or a just few grains of sand to touch).
This approach helps children to manage the flow of sensory information, integrate it, and enjoy the stimulation of their senses.
Malleable materials can also be used by children to express symbolic and creative thinking – for example, the bowls of porridge for the three bears. Children can talk and think about the transformation of materials from one state to another (what happens when you put water in the freezer; when you add cornflour to water, baking powder to flour in cooking). They are given experiences of reversals (from water to ice back to water).
Children are helped to develop technical competences and skills – for example, learning the different ways of making pots (thumb and coil). Every day, malleable materials are presented at floor and table level, to encourage different styles of interaction, and to suit the different ages and levels of development of the children.
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