Today the rain stopped for a minute, so before they started tearing each other to pieces (their energy levels tend to peak around 10am), I planned to take the kids to the park (with my pop-up tent). But they were so excited to have their little cousin round to play, that they all put on backpacks full of teddies and decided to go on a slug hunting expedition in the garden. This was apparently wildly exciting, as slugs are a little like SCARY MONSTERS and might CHASE them into the house!!!
Inspiration hit when I saw they wanted to actually collect the slugs up in a receptacle. I gave them a pair of old tongs and a plastic pot and said, “See how many you can find! It’ll be like a treasure hunt, they’re hiding all over the garden. You can pick them up with these tongs, pop them in the pot and when you have ten, just tip them into the compost heap and watch them munching up the compost!”
This turned into a real winner of a game. Not only did it have that enticing element of hair-raising repulsion, but all that tong work was excellent for their fine motor skills and coordination. And of course, counting. It also had elements of a classic Montessori activity to it, transferring items from one place to another using tongs. Turn-taking also came into it, as I didn’t want to have to scrub slime off more than one pair of tongs.
“You pick the pot up!” “No, you!”
All in all, most educational.
They probably spent most of the time running away screaming when the slugs tried to escape from the pot, but after I suggested they just bop them on the head with the tongs, they were all keen to dare each other! (“I can’t bop them – they might eat me!”)
They stuck with it for at least half an hour.
A short while later I caught the eldest, who’s 6, climbing onto the worktop and getting some bread out. She was shouting excitedly about making a slug sandwich. After investigation, it transpired that my husband (doing the gardening) had caught onto their game and playfully told them that he eats slugs and would love some in a sandwich. She took it completely literally and was really keen to see him eat them. Tears of disappointment followed when I told her he was only joking and it would be a waste of bread.
After they ran off to play dressing up, I found the pot of slugs on the kitchen worktop….luckily all the bopping had discouraged them sufficiently…
This game (slug hunt, not sandwich) could be also played with snails – just as tricky to pick up with tongs – or adapted for a sunny day by hiding glass pebbles or other small items all over the garden and giving each child a little ‘treasure box’ to collect them in. Or the matchbox game for age 6 and up – see who can fit the most items into a matchbox. Winner gets to fill their matchbox with chocolate buttons to eat. 🙂
We did end up in the park eventually……doing Olympic medal gymnastic knotwork.