For some reason, it hasn’t occured to me to teach Z (3 years old) how to use a rubber band. Yet it is one of the most common objects used in everyday life, by people of all ages, for all sorts of purposes — it is one of the most practical items I love.
It struck me when Z and I were watching Red Ted Art’s rubber band bouncy balls — I realized that while it would be nice for him to try this activity, he doesn’t yet have the skills to negotiate a rubber band.
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Some observations on using a rubber band
Just as I expected, Z had trouble using a rubber band with just one hand. It’s a tricky little thing for a 3 year old to manipulate!
So I had to come up with some sort of sequence to help him develop the skills needed yet be able to achieve success at every level.
What materials can I use to help him?
I caught a glimpse of our geometric solids and thought they were perfect! They are a good weight, good size, and would make wonderful objects to practice on.
Before I go on, I would like to point out that this did not come from any album I have. I’m really just making this up based on my observations and predictions. It is truly an experiment in following the child.
My two-hand method
My first thought was that he would have trouble manipulating a rubber band with just one hand. So I came up with a methodical way using two hands that he could easily copy.
- Pull the rubberband with both thumbs
- Stretch it with pointer fingers to make a square/rectangle
I used the cylinder from our geometric solids because it has a steady and circular base. I didn’t want any sharp corners giving him trouble at the first go.
Removing the rubber bands are an opportunity for concentration too!
Next, we tried the rectangular prism. Once he got the hang of it, putting a rubber band over the smaller face wasn’t a problem.
Then we tried going over the larger face. It wasn’t a problem until he used some rubber bands that were thicker and less elastic.
And I LOVED that this happened — It became an unexpected lesson in elasticity as well! Within a minute, he learned to perceive the difference in elasticity (sensorially), and to gauge whether it could go over the larger face or not.
As I’m taking a look at all of the geometric solids, I’m seeing all the potential lessons on the properties of elasticity. I doubt any of the theory is needed for a 3 year old, but the sensorial lesson in and of itself is already very valuable.
Here is an excellent extension that I will be trying soon — seeing which rubber bands will fit around cylindrical containers of varying diameters.
Another rubberband activity that we will be trying soon is the Geo board. It’s not in my albums, but here’s a suggested lesson. This one will use only one hand, while the other hand holds the board steady — a different kind of hand coordination.
I hope you’ve found this helpful! It was really just something I stumbled upon but thought it might inspire someone nonetheless. Do you have any other rubber band ideas? I would love to hear them!