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Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Be Awesome at Sensory Play: Shelling Peas

Cricket has been on an organizational kick recently.  She is 14 months old, and she loves to reorganize things for me.  She takes all of her shoes out of the closet and puts them in a drawer or her laundry hamper.

She takes all her books off the shelf and puts them on another shelf.

She takes all of her spoons out of their container and puts them in another bowl.

In other words, she is entering the sorting stage.

This is a great milestone for young children because it means that they are beginning to recognize details about objects like similarities/differences and position/location, and she is beginning to realize that she can affect her environment.

One day in particular, she seemed to just be resorting the entire house, so I thought I would try something new with her.

I had recently gotten some English peas in the pod in my Freshfully box.  I've never bought peas in the pods before, and I really didn't know what to do with them, so I had been putting it off, but I thought that at least it might be something Cricket would enjoy playing with, so I pulled them out.

I got two bowls and sat on the floor with her.  I started shelling the peas and putting the pods in one bowl and the peas in another, explaining carefully what I was doing.  Cricket was fascinated.  I asked her if she would help me by putting the pods in the bowl for me, and she did!

She studied the pods, squeezing them in her hand and listening to them snap.

She tried once or twice to put them in her mouth, but I reminded her that they were not for eating (yet), and she soon moved on.  She dropped them on the floor and picked them back up.  She even tried throwing one or two, but I discouraged that, and she eventually went and retrieved the thrown pods and put them in the bowl.

After about ten minutes, she became curious about the peas and wanted to play with them.  She loved the sound they made when I dropped them in the metal bowl, and would say "DING!" so excitedly, you'd think she had won a prize!

I let her explore the peas, but encouraged her to keep them in the bowl.  I showed her how I opened the pods and pulled them out.

Soon she was pulling them out for me and putting them in the bowl.  We practiced putting the peas in one bowl and the shells in another, and she got quite good at it.  A couple of times, she even saw a pea that had stuck to a discarded pod, and she would take it out and put it in the other bowl!

Once they were all shelled, she helped me clean up.  I washed all the peas and put them in the refrigerator, and she helped me throw away the pods.

She is saying, "Ta da!"

The whole exercise took about thirty minutes, maybe a little more.  It definitely took longer than if I had done it myself, but it was such a great experience for her.  As a city girl, I don't know that I had ever seen peas in their original pods before this, so I love the idea of Cricket growing up with this kind of thing being a normal part of her life.

She got to use all of her senses to explore natural materials.  She got to help in a practical life activity that contributed to the family.  And she was able to practice sorting and classifying.  This was a really fun activity that I highly recommend.  It was well worth the price of a bag of peas in the pods!


  1. Shelling peas and stringing beans with my grandparents are some of my favorite childhood memories. Oh, the smell... definitely a favorite. It gets not quite so fun when you're working on a 5 gallon bucket and there are two other buckets outside and more will need to be picked tomorrow, but still awesome.

    1. Aww what a sweet memory...except for the fifteen gallons part! :o)