We picked seeds on a sponge for our “favorite” science and math activity this week. Mostly because we didn’t get it done in the week it was planned! I get this idea in my head that certain activities are going to be harder or take more time and then I dread them. This was one of them. It ended up going really fast and being a lot of fun. I need to remind my self of that. They always go fast and I always enjoy it!
This activity idea originated a long time ago, back when I was a lead toddler teacher of 1-year olds. I literally have no memory of where I got the idea. I don’t really know why sponges and not just dirt. It’s even weird to me.
But, I stick with it! And it end up being pretty fun seeing the seed. Because in the dirt you can’t see it, but on top of the green sponge we were able to see the seed changing. So, that’s probably why the sponge.
I had pre-cut the sponges into circles to fit into sections of egg carton. That is totally unnecessary. Cut a sponge in half (or even in quarters if you want it smaller), because a whole sponge would be a lot of area to cover with tiny seeds. Set the sponge in a small container to catch extra liquid and you are good to go.
I had my son wet the sponge first with a spoon (hello fine motor and science!) and then he sprinkled a couple of pinches of the seeds onto the sponge (more fine motor and science!).
Then, we looked at them while they changed and talked about a good place to set them so that they could get sunlight. The great thing too is that you get to watch it change over time and sharpen those observation skills. With the youngest little ones it’s going to be a lot of you noticing and pointing things out and asking questions. Remember, just because they aren’t saying things doesn’t mean they don’t understand what you are saying! As they get a little bit older, they’ll be able to share the things they notice. Don’t be surprised if they notice things different than you. I love hearing how little guys describe things in their own language! So, be encouraging and supportive.
Let’s talk about what’s going on here…
Fine motor: I know I already mentioned it some, but using the spoon to pour over water is a great fine motor movement. Think of all of the control that it takes to keep it steady until just the right moment that they get to pour it in the right spot.
Then, picking up the seeds gets that pincer grasp (between thumb and forefinger) going, and then sprinkling them onto the sponge just so uses the muscles again.
Science: Clearly this is a science activity, but not really for the obvious reasons. Most people will think it is a science activity just because it is planting seeds. Yes, you are right it is science because of that. For this age though, the science is more about the process, feeling the materials (sponge, water, seeds) and then observing what happens.
Also think about the simplicity of pouring water over a dry sponge. The sponge starts hard, crunchy even, and pretty small. With the addition of water it completely changes. It gets soft, squishy, and grows. To me, water and sponges is actually an activity in itself. So, capitalize on having fun with that part of the activity and talking about the changes that are happening.
*I’ll try to update as our seeds change!