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My boys are really into tractors. Hearts? Not so much. But it’s nearing Valentine’s Day and I have all these sweet little plastic hearts that I wanted to use in themed learning and play activities (we just finished using them in our Valentines Fine Motor Tray). My original idea was to make a type of Zen Garden with hearts and little rakes and brushes…but who was I kidding? A Zen Garden?!? For my active and mischievous boys? Ya, right! So instead I whipped up some Cloud Dough (along with our secret ingredient that adds color and scent), and decided to just offer them a simple treasure hunting tray (in which they were supposed to dig up the heart “treasures”).
 Preparing the Cloud Dough took just a few minutes to make. I added some digging tools (scoops and the yellow tong tool from this fine motor set) and put the whole thing out to play. This is what the tray looked like before my boys got to it…
 
 
Simple, yet inviting at the same time. There was even a little white container for placing the treasure hearts into once found. Well, my oldest took one look at this and, before even touching the materials, decided it was missing one of these…
 
A tractor. More specifically, a backhoe tractor.
 
See his sweet little pursed lips in that picture? That’s him making tractor noises and giving foreman-like directions about how to remove the hearts from the “dirt” (dirt that so happens to smell like chocolate marshmallow thanks to our secret ingredient!).
 
Did I plan for this to turn into a dig site? Most definitely not. But who was I to stop him from his small world play? I intended for him to get some more fine motor practice in with the scoops I provided…but he had his own special scoop he wanted to use (that is, the excavator scoop). So he still got the fine motor practice I was aiming for, just with a different tool 🙂
 
 
We even did a little counting and heart matching! I was pretty happy with how this activity was playing out 🙂 But be warned- it was MESSY. Big brother knows how to contain his mess pretty well, but once little brother was in the picture there was “dirt” everywhere!
 
 
Good thing sweeping is easy enough, but lesson learned: Cloud Dough stays outside next time!
 
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