All of the food at Abundant Life is vegetarian.  I work hard to serve healthy and well-balanced meals, peanut butter included.  But my motivation for serving snacks and meals with peanut butter changed when I saw pictures posted by Jeff Johnson of Explorations Early Learning of another family childcare provider’s do-it-yourself blocks (check them out here)  made out of empty peanut butter jars.  I knew we had to increase our consumption and make our own set.  You would be surprised at how quickly we can go through peanut butter around here!  After all, we eat it on rice cakes, graham crackers, as a dip for apples and carrots, in hot dog buns with bananas for a lunchtime favorite, “banana dogs”…but I digress.

I set up this pyramid one morning as the kids were playing, and waited to see what would happen. Can you guess what happened first?  Yes – the tower got knocked over – a sensory marvel!  The sun reflected off the beads and other items in the jars, the wooden and metal pieces jingled as they fell: all of this on top of the excitement of plastic jars bouncing off of the floor!  We paused for a brief discussion about the social concerns of knocking over a tower you didn’t help build, and then the crew was off!

What is marvelous about these blocks is that they have a broad base and don’t easily tip.  The can be stacked higher than most blocks (except for the one I warped in the dishwasher…oops!)  The jars are filled with all of the small, sparkly, noisy things that would be choking hazards for the younger ones, allowing everyone in the group to interact with compelling materials in a meaningful way, regardless of age.  The most surprising use for these blocks to date?  Holding them while jumping on the mattress.  Each one sounds and feels much different!!

Plus, when the light hits these jars, they intrigue the senses in a way that traditional blocks to not.  And, every time we finish a jar of peanut butter, we all start to brainstorm about what might look cool super glued inside of the clean plastic container.

This is usually not a standing table, but some situations call for exceptions.

It won’t be long before we have enough peanut butter to reach the ceiling!