Practical Life works are known for the repetition of motion needed to complete the activity, and that’s one of the huge draws for toddlers. I’ll be honest — I like that repetition too. This is one of the works that both girls love, although N spends way more time with it, and it’s one that I have been known to do from time to time just for the relaxing quality of the soft pom-poms and repeating that one motion over and over again. When things are a little bit crazy in the house, I sometimes choose a work and sit down at the table with it — the girls quickly calm down and run over to see what I’m doing, and then one of them will usually ask to use that work while the other watches or chooses her own activity.
I put a bowl with 16 pom-poms in it on a tray with an empty ice cube tray (which has 16 spots). I showed N how to take one pom-pom, place it in an empty spot in the ice cube tray, and repeat until the whole tray is full.
This work is great for younger toddlers since it can be done with either a full palmar grasp (the whole hand curling around the pom-pom) or with the more advanced pincer grip (three fingers, the same grip the child will need for holding a pencil). The pom-poms are a soft contrast to the smooth, hard ice cube tray, and they fit perfectly into each spot. The work also teaches the basic math concept of one-to-one correspondence since there is the exact number of pom-poms as there are spots in the ice cube tray.
When I first present the work, I go from left to right, beginning with the top line of spots on the ice cube tray — this prepares the child for reading. N tends to put the pom-poms in at random for now, and that’s fine.
Once the pom-poms have all been placed in a spot, N must put them back one at a time into the bowl before returning the tray to the shelf. She usually repeats this work several times before she is ready to put it away and choose a new one.
For an older child, try adding a set of tongs to the work for an added level of difficulty in transferring the pom-poms from the bowl to the ice cube tray.