Identifying an Interest| Day 4 – 30 Days TYP

Studying caterpillars {An Everyday Story}

30 Days to Transform Your Play - Day 4 - Identifying an InterestDay 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

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I often get asked, how do I get started? What activities do you recommend for 2 year olds? How do I get my child to spend more than five minutes on an activity I prepare for them? And my answer is always the same; What is your child interested in?

Often I think we see something beautiful; a beautiful image of a child at play and are attracted to that image and the prospect of our own child involved in that activity in the same way.

So we set up the activity only to find the set-up actually took longer than the time our children spent engaged… then we become a little disheartened. What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they like it? I guess my child just doesn’t like art…or blocks….or making patterns…

I think for our children to be really engaged in an activity it needs to feel connected to them in some way or really spark a deep sense of awe and a desire to discover more.

I know with Jack and Sarah, if I create a new exploration for them everyday they will most likely play with it for a short while but will soon return to their own play.

However, if I slowly leave new provocations in the playroom (books, postcards, maps, a YouTube video on the iPad, some loose parts or blocks with a picture cue) based on their interests they will more often than not engage with these materials without me even mentioning anything thereby deepening their own play and sparking new lines of inquiry.

Working in the kitchen garden {An Everyday Story}Studying caterpillars {An Everyday Story}Sarah spends time in our kitchen garden everyday. She weeds and takes care of the plants. This is her passion. She carefully inspects each plant to check how it is growing. This morning we spotted a tiny caterpillar. She wanted to know more about him. We’ve brought him inside so we can observe him more.


“Whether you are working with one child or a group, the first step is to find out what your child wants to know more about. This is where the work starts. You can find this starting point in one of two ways: you can ask or you can observe.”

~ Lori Pickert: Project-Based Homeschooling

So. What are your children interested in at the moment? If they have a love of trains, what is it about trains that they love?

  • Do they love the carriages and the engine?
  • Do they like the idea of travelling by train and the adventures of the people on the train?
  • Do they enjoy the motion of driving the trains?

And what do they want to know more about the trains?

  • What do they wonder while they are playing?
  • What questions do they ask you about trains?
  • What aspect of their play do they seem to keep coming back to?

These are the questions that will guide you forward. These are the questions that will give you all the information that you need to know about creating a meaningful learning experience for your child.

Give them the opportunity to explore and answer these questions and you will be nurturing their interests, making connections with their learning and helping them to engage more deeply; get them out of a play rut that can sometimes happen.

Making learning visible - How electricity travels - An Everyday Story Exploring electricity with clay modelling - An Everyday Story

Jack exploring electricityThis Homeschool Week - Exploring the human body {An Everyday Story} Human Body Project - drawing - An Everyday Story Human body project - X-rays - An Everyday Storyand the human body


  • Over the next few days watch your child playing and take note of the questions they ask
  • If they are old enough, talk with them about ways they might like to explore their questions; wait for their ideas (look it up in a book, a YouTube video, make a design to solve their problem, build their ideas)
  • If they are younger, create a very simple exploration based on your observation of what they want to know
  • Go slowly. Don’t fill their space with resources and activities. Explore together; respect their process, resist taking over
  • Wait for the next question and start the process again
  • Allow the exploration to unfold at the child’s pace

This kind of play and learning happens slowly over time; sometimes weeks, sometimes months, sometimes even years. But it is connected, it is authentic and it is meaningful to our individual children.

If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series and don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning30 Days TYP Day 4 - Identifying and interest and how to nurture it {An Everyday Story}

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7 Replies to “Identifying an Interest| Day 4 – 30 Days TYP”

  1. I like today’s questing. My son had various interests and I’d like too find ways of expanding and building on them. He loves WWII planes and wants to know their names and whether they are goodies or baddies. This has led to geography explain to look at where the axis and allies lived. He also likes recognising the planes markers that indicate what country they are from. We have visited the imperial war museum and got books on WWII and plane spotting. And he has stated expand his interest to u-boats and battle ships which gave us an opportunity to visit hms Belfast in London. This interest has been a great and ongoing project for the while family.
    He also loves the octonauts and had an interest in all things sea based. So we have visited the London Aquarium and pet shops with fish tanks. We have some great fish and shark books and I’ve bought some plastic sea creatures that he likes playing with in the bath. He always makes sure they eat the correct animals! Recently an episode of octonauts with sea birds has spread his interest from under the sea to over the sea and we have visited bird world and rspb nature reserves with hydes to watch the birds. We have done some bird identification but mainly stuck to sea birds so as not to over whelm him.
    I’ve even been able to use sea creature identification in number and letter play.
    I’m really enjoying this series. Sorry about the essay but today’s post has really inspired me think carefully about where to go next with his current interests.

  2. My son (7) is really interested in football and hockey the last few months. He draws non stop. At this moment he is drawing a hockey goalie. Where else can we go with this that would be educational and maybe get him interested in other things as well? My husband does spend a few moments watching hockey highlights each day with him. I’ve given him hockey figurines to set up games with. He has a few sports books. My husband has also taken him to a live game.

    1. Maybe get out a map to find the city of his favorite teams? Talk about climate and culture of the city, what other sports teams are based out of the city?

  3. My little one is very interested in crabs and transport, namely busses and aeroplanes as a result of our recent holiday to Thailand. As well as cull his toys tomorrow, I am going to print all the photos we took of the crabs, busses and aeroplanes we took and we are going to go rock pooling for crabs so he can observe them at home. I love your series. Since reading your blog a few months ago, I did move all of his toys to storage and put a few things out. It has made a big difference because before he would spend much time in his room. Now he does or he goes and finds toys in the other room that he is interested in. I feel I have alot of work to do with regards to his play spaces and following his interests but I we are on the right track thanks to you and a friend who put me onto your blog. Thank you

  4. Enjoying reading through the series and I am learning a lot. One question: what if your child doesn’t really respond when you ask about interests? I know my child’s interests through observation but he doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of what it means to do a project.

  5. Anneke van der Merwe says:

    Hi, Where did you get that body model? My daughter is very interested in anatomy and how it works and I really like the size of yours.

  6. Anne Kasten says:

    Hi my four year old son has no interest in playing with anything. He does not like to play on his own at all and I have tried several things to do to encourage him to do so. I do play with him and then I tell him it is time for mommy to do chores and for him to play with one of his toys on his own. He refuses , he is constantly hanging on my husband and I and will not stop unless we put a show on tv. I don’t want to resort to this every time but nothing else interests him. Any suggestions?

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