Transferring activities- Jugs and mugs

I’ve heard stories of my dad being given a couple of cups to entertain himself for hours, when he was a kid. I found it very funny, until V turned 15 months. All she wanted to was transferring or pouring.

I get a lot of queries from new mums on “activities” they can do with their child. Well, first priority is always to speak with, read to, and involve the child in our daily, useful chores. One of the earliest activities I invariably suggest is transferring.


One of the earliest activity I invariably suggest is transferring.

Why transferring?

This is one of the easiest to set up-activities but the engagement and focus level is super high. Also, for child-led learning in activities, there needs to be a control of error ( the child should be able to figure out what they are doing wrong on their own). In this case, it is visual and pretty evident. Hand over a sponge or cloth to the toddler and watch her clean up after herself. Apart from fine motor skills development, she also learns simple concepts like cause and effect, muscle movements, weight differences, etc.
Most importantly, this activity used to bring a lot of calm when V used to feel frustrated or had too much chaos within her.

What can be transferred?

We started with a cup of grains but V has been a water baby since birth and she was more interested in pouring. We used a lot of edible stuff when V was still mouthing. At 1-3 years, the following can be used:
– water
-colored water
-grains
– puffed rice
-pasta
-noodles
-rainbow rice
-pom poms
-lego blocks
-ribbons/lace/yarn
-ice
-berries
– pebbles and marbles
-leaves
-flowers
-beads, water beads

Transferring tools

We have used jugs, mugs, glasses, bowls, cups(with and without handles), etc as apparatuses.
The tools we use are becoming more refined with her age. One can use the following:
– Fingers
– Spoons of varying sizes
– tongs
– Chopsticks
– Sieves
– Funnels
– Ink droppers

Difficulty levels

Once the child has mastered pouring or transferring, without spilling, where is the challenge, right? Wrong! Children love exploring and solving problems if left to their own devices. Just add in an extra level of difficulty, like pouring water from a large pitcher into 5 tiny cups. The child learns measurement and conservation. Or ask the child to transfer colored pompoms into matching bowls. There are wonderful ways in which fractions, botany, art and other conceptual learning can be woven into this simple activity.

Lastly, I always presented this activity on a tray, not just because it looked beautiful, but so that V could carry it to the balcony whenever she wanted, finish her work and keep it back. It taught her a lot of order and self-discipline. It also helped develop her gross muscular movements in carrying a tray with focus and setting it back. You can read about our montessori set up at home here.

Transferring activities have reduced the number of unwanted pouring of food stuff on the floor by giving her purpose. It has immensely helped me in the kitchen. V started helping me measure out kitchen ingredients very early and loading the cooker is her job. But more on that, later.

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