Her mum would help her to organise some 'party food' (using plastic food, real food or playdough), make invitations, blow up balloons, find a make-do cake and invent party games. Her mum would also buy her cardboard party hats for her party guests to wear.
Mum liked to encourage this sort of play because she knew:
- it was a great boost to Em's self-esteem as she got to pretend to be the adult and boss her toys around
- it helped her girl to practice pre-literacy skills as she 'wrote out' invitations
- it was sometimes a great fun art and craft activity when Em felt like making fancy invitations
- her daughter would talk and talk and talk the whole way through the party which was great for her language skills
- it helped Em to process what she understood about social rules and interactions as she sorted out problems that arose between her furry friends
- her little girl was building on all of her fine motor skills as she set things up and made the things she needed
- Em's memory, recall and imagination were getting a big boost too as she remembered what happens at a party and invented her story for the day
- once she was set up and happy with how things were going, Em would spend an hour or so playing on her own as long as mum checked in every now and then
- and it was a whole lot of fun!!
One day, Mum got sick of buying party hats and decided Em could make her own. So, Mum went out and bought a packet of plastic, disposable picnic bowls.
When Mum got home, she turned each of the bowls upside-down and punched a hole in either side with a hole punch. Then Em helped her mum tie some elastic onto each hat.
After that, Em got busy with her art and craft ideas (with a little help getting set-up) and decorated a hat for each of her friends. She put stickers on some and stuck flowers and ribbons on others. It was a great art and craft activity that kept her busy for quite a while.
Those hats are still in the dress-up box today, four years later and, luckily, those furry friends haven't grown a bit!