Building Kids Up

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Sample OT Groups/Updates

Pouring, Scooping, and Dumping- OH, WHY?!?

Pouring, Scooping, and Dumping- OH, WHY?

These are some of toddlers’ and preschoolers’ favorite activities. They are also some of parents’ least favorite activities. It’s hard not to be aggravated when your child dumps every bin in the toy room a minute after you clean or spills their drink for the hundredth time (today) while trying to pour it into a small cup. However, these activities have a developmental purpose, and it’s not just to see mommy’s head explode.

Why do children love to pour, scoop, and dump and why we should encourage it (when appropriate)?

  • It stimulates the sensory system which is what kids are all about. It’s visual, tactile, auditory, and sometimes even gustatory (sense of taste).
  • It makes them feel independent. Even if they do spill, they still get a sense of satisfaction from doing it by themselves. 
  • It provides feedback to their joints which increases proprioception and helps with body awareness. 
  • It works on visual-perceptual skills especially when trying to fill to a certain line or deciding which container something will fit in. 
  • It strengthens their knowledge of cause and effect and their self awareness.


Ideas to work on these skills with out losing you cool or destroying your house:

  • Use bath time: get some scoops and some clear measuring cups and have you child fill them to different lines. Use different colored sharpies to make a couple lines to aim for.
  • Use the kitchen sink: my boys love to help me “clean” the sink. I cover the inside with baking soda and give them each a measuring cup of vinegar to pour in. This is great because they want to pour slowly for a better fizzy effect and my sink gets clean.
  • Use a sheet: Make a bin of small items (beads, beans, rice) and have some containers to fill and some scoops. Put an old sheet one the floor with the bin in the middle. They can scoop and spill and dump. Then pick the sheet up and empty back into the bin- 10 second clean up!
  • Use the sandbox: Next time you are at the sandbox at the park take some sand toys and let them dig and scoop away!
  • Pouring thick liquids is great to slow down the activity. You can thicken water with cornstarch or flour and even dye it. 
  • Watering plants is a great pouring activity. A little back porch garden is the perfect place for kids to practice. 

If the thought of these activities still makes you shudder— sign your child up for a Skill-by-Skill group. We’ll take care of it for you!

*all our groups with incorporate these activities- especially Sensory Balance!