5 Ways to Play with a Pikler Chalkboard Play Cube
Written by our special guest, Kristy Nicola, the face of Today Our Children
Kristy is the brains behind the website and Instagram of @today.our.children.
An Aussie teacher turned Mumma, Kristy is a Masters Qualified Teacher (primary and secondary) with training and extensive experience in early childhood education.
As an advocate of sustainable play and lifestyle, Kristy has built a community of more than 21,000 followers on Instagram. Every day, she shares her knowledge, play, and learning experiences with people all over the world.
Today I am excited to share a snippet of the many ways your little ones can use and benefit from a Chalkboard Play Cube from My Happy Helpers!
My children are aged two and almost four, and their Piker Play Cube has become one of their most loved and explored pieces in our play space.
A Pikler Chalkboard Play Cube is a wonderful way for younger and older children alike to develop their gross motor skills (i.e. large body movements - think climbing, balance, coordination, muscle strength, and hand grip).
The open-ended design allows for little ones to engage and explore at a level appropriate to their development. Younger babies learning to stand might use it for support; crawlers will have fun climbing through the tunnels; and older children will be scrambling up and over, around and in between.
The beauty of this piece is that it naturally encourages gross motor development, independence, and creativity, inviting children to crawl, stand, climb, twist and even tumble within the limits that they are comfortable.
My youngest child was a few months shy of two-years when we first received our Chalkboard Play Cube. She was an incredibly hesitant climber… to the point she would climb two steps, panic, and cry!
Fast forward a few months and she has not only developed a confidence for climbing, but has also become more savvy with risk taking - testing out climbing to new heights, finding ways to climb back down (a huge milestone in this household), and also larger body movements like rotating and sliding.
You may find yourself surprised at how versatile the Chalkboard Play Cube is!
With a table top and cubby-like interior, it provides dimensions for different levels of play and imaginative fun. Think diving into a deep sea cave or an underground carpark! Set up a small world on both the table top and inside the cube and watch your little ones’ eyes light up with excitement.
My eldest child first independently showcased this after I set up the simplest of small worlds on the table top. He pushed his beloved trucks, buses, and peg dolls over the tabletop and immersed himself in a world where a bus shot off a cliff and tumbled into a cave, then a rescue mission followed.
Our Pikler Chalkboard Play Cube has also become the hub for magnetic tile and block play. It’s the perfect height for both my children to build and construct (although younger children may prefer to have a balance board underfoot for a slight boost).
#3. Cosy nook, cubby house, or toy storage
The Pikler Chalkboard Play Cube creates a sense of a secret, private space.
By draping a blanket, throw, giant silk, or tablecloth over the top, you can create a nice little den for your little one to relax or play in. Add fairy lights and some cosy cushions, and it will become a magical little space even adults will love (well at least this adult sure does)!
My eldest child has also taken to storing all his play space toys in our Chalkboard Play Cube at the end of the day, and I have to admit, I marvelled at the brilliance of this! All of his toys quickly vanish from under my feet and out of sight, ready for him to pull out the next day.
#4. Posting Play for theDevelopment of Fine Motor Skills
Using the side rails of the Chalkboard Play Cube, you can set up a wide variety of activities to motivate children to develop their fine motor skills - from tying a ribbon with rings and toys attached to poking and pulling objects through the rails.
The circle crawl holes also provide the perfect set-up for target practice i.e. throwing sandbags or soft balls.
Pro tip: place the basket of balls and sand bags at a distance from the Play Cube, or mark a spot for children to run back to and throw from. It sneaks in a little extra energy burning and cardio into the fun!
One of our favourite challenges to date was creating a Rainbow Cave. We used the side rails for balance, created a magnetic tile wall, and tied a rainbow silk to cover the opposite side.
#5. Dramatic play set-up for toddlers
With a versatile blackboard feature, the Chalkboard Play Cube adds some special magic for dramatic play set-ups.
For example… Welcome to Pirate Bay!
By flipping the cube onto its side, popping a large pillow inside, and drawing a basic treasure map on the blackboard, we added a whole new element of fun to our Pirate Ship play.
My son felt like he had a real mission to follow and kept referring back to the map as he sailed his ship through our play silks and fabric ocean that was scattered around.
He later climbed through the Pirate Cave to find his treasure and then returned to sail the high seas again!