• Yasmeen Kamrani Sallam

Invitation to Explore and Create Sunflowers

Sunflowers just brighten up any environment and they happen to be one of the most interesting flowers around. Depending on the age of your child before any invitation I recommend reading a story, simply opening up a discussion about observations of what they see/touch/smell, or discussing some super interesting facts about what they are exploring to ignite their curiosity.

Some fun facts that are developmentally appropriate for ages three and up about sunflowers are as follows: One of the most interesting facts about sunflowers is that each sunflower is actually thousands of flowers since they are composite flowers. Sunflowers are crazy about sunshine so they love to sun bathe. They can grow to unimaginable heights. They are a versatile flower used in foods, medicines, dyes, and oils. Sunflowers symbolize cheerfulness, happiness, and positivity.

After opening the child's mind to the world of sunflowers, inviting them to create their own interpretations of sunflowers with loose parts provides them opportunities to expand their learning process. What I love most about invitations with loose parts is watching how the different combinations of materials inspire the child to create different things. The loose part materials provided here are rocks, recycled pouch caps, translucent shapes, buttons, rhinestones, and scarves.

You can simply place the loose parts on a table, tray, light table, or mirror. Since children are naturally drawn to light, the Guidecraft light table is another way to deepen the experience in a different medium. Mirrors such as this acrylic one encourages exploration of reflection, perception, and appearance which in turn provides visual feedback.

This type of play enhances a child's free creative play, exposure to sensory elements, requires concentration, fine motor and hand strength building, relaxing and stimulating. Loose parts are the perfect for limitless possibilities, foster problem solving skills, creativity, exposure to new materials, and decision making. Through this kind of free play children are really creating: using what they have and what they already know, and combining that to create a whole that’s greater than the parts. Loose parts and free play in childhood develops the creative genius of the future.

Opportunities for creativity reinforces the children's ability to engage with the world in new and novel ways, which promotes inquiry, reflection and critical-thinking skills.



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