This post is written by guest contributor Missy from Moments Enriched. She's sharing three enriching play-based activities that your child can do with their Smiling Moon Balancer.
Play is a magical thing, and giving my children the opportunity to imagine, create, and explore is one of my all-time favorite parts of parenthood!
When choosing toys for my children, I have always gravitated towards quality, multi-purpose toys.
I love letting my littles interact with open ended products that spark their imaginations and promote a variety of play and learning experiences.
A toy with one purpose is great.
But, a toy that can be used outside, with animal figures, as a building tool, and in a sensory bin? That toy is soooo much better!
A few months ago I came across Smiling Tree Toys and I've been obsessed with their products ever since.
Smiling Tree creates one of a kind, beautiful wooden toys that are handmade in their Minnesota red barn. I love how the entire family is involved with designing and creating the toys; it is such a wonderful small business!
While browsing their site, I happened upon their amazing Smiling Moon Balancer.
I have seen a variety of products like this on the market and have been itching to get my kiddos one to try. However, I’ve been a bit picky with my search – I wanted something strong, wooden, of good quality, and locally made.
The Smiling Moon Balancer fit my criteria perfectly! Not only is the quality of the Smiling Moon Balancer amazing, it is beautiful and would be a great décor piece in any playroom.
How many ways can you play?
The thing I love the most about this toy is that it can be used in a variety of ways. Use it as a balancing toy (great for those fine motor skills!), add some animals, create a tower, or turn it into a game. Seriously! There are so many ways to play!
Let’s break it down.
Exercising Fine Motor Skills Through Balance
Looking to challenge your little and exercise those fine motor muscles? Use the Smiling Moon Balancer as is!
Set out the moon and lay out all 14 pieces.
Now, have your kiddos take one piece at a time and place it on the moon. Not only do they need to use control to carefully place each piece on the moon, they also have to think ahead and predict what will happen as each piece is put down.
Will the moon tip forwards? Fall back? Might all of the pieces tumble down?
This toy requires a great deal of careful thought and fine motor control. Both are great skills to practice in those early learning years!
Both boys caught on quickly and have played with their moon daily since receiving it.
They take turns putting pieces on and then knocking them all down!
But that’s not all – they got creative with their Smiling Moon Balancer, just as they do with most of the open ended toys that we have.
They started building with the pieces and adding animals (no shocker there, haha!) to their play.
It was magical to watch, and helped to inspire the following activities!
Building Skills Through Hands-On Play
Once your kiddos are finished balancing pieces on the moon, switch things up a bit!
Lay out all of the pieces again and, this time, ask your cuties to build a tower.
Building one tall tower with all 14 pieces will challenge their patience and fine motor skills to ensure that it doesn’t tumble over. Prompt your littles by asking them to build 2 equal towers, separate the blocks into 3 towers, or give them the reins and let their imaginations take the wheel!
There is no wrong answer when it comes to tower building. This activity really showed me the difference in fine motor skill development between my 3 and 4 year old.
My 4 year old got one massive tower up on the first try. He put the pieces in order from largest to smallest to provide an extra stable base.
As Mr. 4 was building, he stopped every couple of pieces and used both hands around the tower to straighten it out a bit. A skill that I never knew he had picked up!
Using Animals To Play
This is one of my all-time favorite activities!Smiling Tree Toys has created another amazing toy for us to use with animal play. The Smiling Moon Balancer had the perfect base for our balancing animals activity.
I simply set the pieces out in a random pattern, some stacked, some not. Then, we grabbed our favorite animals and I asked my littles to set each animal on a wooden piece so they could get away from the hot lava!
Because, why not?!
My kiddos took it from there and got the animals to safety, just in time! It was very interesting to watch their little wheels turn as they figured out which animals would fit the best on the different sized pieces.
A couple fell off on the smaller pieces and they had to go back to the drawing board, swapping them out with smaller and more sturdy animals. And, as always, this animal activity led right into independent play.
The animals went on an amazing adventure, sailing away from the lava to find a new home. It was so precious to watch!
That is the true magic of a toy like the Smiling Moon Balancer.
It can turn into multiple activities and provide your children with an amazing canvas for their imaginations to soar!
Learning How To Count Through Play
This activity is great for a single child or can include 2 kiddos in play at one time. Just grab your Smiling Moon Balancer, and a single die (or make your own dice, like this one here!) and you are ready to play!
This is a super simple game that is perfect for those kiddos just learning numbers, working on counting, or those who could use a refresher with either (think, Preschool/Kindergarten age range).
Although, you could modify it to include adding for older siblings quite easily. Here is how it is played:
1. Have the first player roll the die and read the number.
2. Player 1 should create a tower using the number of blocks that he/she rolled. Ex. If a 6 was rolled, use 6 pieces to build.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with Player 2.
4. Both players take down their towers and start again.
Create a Challenge
For an added challenge, have your kiddos compare their towers after they have both rolled.
- Which one is taller?
- How much taller is it?
- How do they look different?
There are so many possibilities here!
And it's a great way to strengthen sibling bonds!
Another way to add a challenge is to introduce (or practice addition).
- How many blocks do you and your partner have all together?
- Can your littles work together to add them up?
This is a great introductory activity for adding. It provides the visual that beginning learners need (they can see the separate blocks as opposed to a number on paper) and incorporates fun with learning!
What will you create with your Smiling Moon Balancer?
The Smiling Moon Balancer is truly an amazing toy. And trust me, it is one that you definitely want to have in your playroom!
Developing fine motor skills, building a tower, balancing animals, and creating a math game are just some of the possible extensions to its primary purpose. The possibilities for what your child can create and learn are endless!
Missy is a mom to 3 littles aged 4 and under. She's also a kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home-mom and the creator of Moments Enriched. Missy loves to create fun and engaging activities to keep little hands busy and curious minds engaged. Her aim is to help parents include intentional education-focused activities into their child’s daily routine. Join her at momentsenriched.com for simple, fun, enriching activities for the little in your life!