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A couple of years ago, when Bunny was about 1 and a half, we started Tot Schooling her. We put together a little fine motor activity using pompoms and a non-spill paint pot (US affiliates), which has a small hole in the lid to poke pompoms through. We also used measuring spoons to transfer the pompoms (which are nice scoops for pompoms because of the shape). Bunny’s baby cousin (16 months) enjoyed playing with it when he visited recently.
Bunny hasn’t actually grown out of this as a toy to play with, but her fine motor skills have advanced beyond this. She is not yet, however, up to performing surgery on people. To improve her fine motor skills further in this area we let her… perform surgery on people! Well, person. Cavity Sam, to be precise.
She loves “playing Doctor game” (in fact she is asking to play it right now)! We don’t use the cards or money, and just let her play it as a solitaire, unaided game (but not unsupervised – the pieces are pretty tiny). She is improving all the time!
One more trick you might be able to see in the picture (I have a different version to the Operation game (US affiliates) I linked to on Amazon so I don’t know if you can do exactly the same with the classic version) – Bunny is scared of the buzzer. So when she plays Operation I take the electronic buzzer pack out and it can’t upset her! It makes it easier to reach parts with the shortish wire on the tweezers too. You could still take out the batteries of any version though to quieten the scary noise. Speaking of versions, there are loads of new versions of Operation now! Minions, Frozen, Doc McStuffins…!
So if your tot has outgrown the pompom-in-a-pot game, give Operation a go!