We recently received our order of mini playsilks from Etsy. They are absolutely gorgeous, they are hand dyed and the colours are vibrant. Silk is a beautiful natural fibre, it is a wonderful open-ended material that children of all ages can enjoy. I like the mini size (approximately 11 inches square) for infants as the child is able to play and pick them up without getting lost in them. The larger size playsilks are better for some uses especially for pretend play and dress-ups.
We've been using the mini playsilks with Otto already (he's five weeks old). The boys (Caspar and Otis) will dance around the room with them and wave them at Otto, they will hang them on his mirror and Otto can't take his eyes off them, they will gently run the silks across Otto's bare belly or feet. If left nearby, Otto will also grab the silks and swish them around. He really seems to like them so I've wanted to put together a list of ways we can use the playsilks, so we get the most out of them. Some of these ideas are Montessori inspired and others are just general ways children use playsilks.
- Hang them from a playgym for the child to visually track and bat at or reach for.
- In the infant's first discovery or treasure basket. The young infant will enjoy exploring the texture.
- For language development "this is silk", "this silk is blue..."
- As decoration, playsilks look beautiful in a natural basket or draped within the infant's line of sight, or hang on a window so the light can go through it.
- To play peek-a-boo.
- Present them in a natural basket for the sitting and grasping infant to explore.
Toddlers to Preschoolers
- Tie the playsilks together and put them in a box or container with a small opening (baby wipe dispenser would be perfect) and allow the child to pull them out or stuff them back in.
- Hang at the end of a play tunnel for the child to crawl through.
- For colour matching. Put different coloured items in a basket (or tray) including the silks and the child can colour match them, or go on a colour hunt and help the child find items around the home of the same colour.
- Include in colour themed discovery or treasure baskets, for example, a 'red' basket with all red items (including the silk) in it.
- On a nature table, colours can help represent seasons, blue silks can be used to represent winter, ice or the cold, use warm colours for summer.
- For small world play. Blue can represent a lake, red can be larva, yellow can be desert sand, depending on your themes playsilks can be incorporated.
- Dress-ups, pretend play, as capes, swords, crowns, blankets etc.
- To scrunch and throw, this is a non-violent (and quiet) way to get out some energy.
- Drop and catch them (great for developing coordination) or throw them then run and catch them.
- Open-ended play with blocks, people, model animals - present with other open-ended material and see what the child does with them.
- Use as props in a story basket or for when storytelling.
- For building forts (try the extra large playsilk, we have this gorgeous rainbow coloured silk).
- For dancing and self-expression, keep in a basket in a music area. Dance with them like they are streamers.
- For experimenting with the wind, take outside and run with them in the wind. Hold them up in the wind, do they move or blow in one direction?
I am sure there are many other ways to use playsilks. The best way we can present them is in a basket that is accessible to the child and they (and their imagination) can do the rest!