Back when I was pregnant, I put together a basket of go-to activities that I could quickly pull from to keep J focused when I was busy with his little brother. When I saw the button snake here, I knew I wanted to include it.
It was so easy to make, taking maybe 5 minutes, even with my sad skills using a needle and thread.
You need: colorful felt, scissors, ribbon, a button, needle and thread
What you do:
- Cut the felt into squares (or fun shapes)
- Cut a small slit into each square (to fit your button)
- Sew one felt square near the end of your ribbon
- Sew a button onto the other end of your ribbon
- Your done!
This was great practice for J. He had really never tried button until this. I made a beginner level button snake (using an extra large button) but was surprised at how quickly he caught on.
I recently made another button snake with a smaller button to increase the difficulty. This time I cut the felt pieces into different shapes so that the pieces could also be used to sort or create various patterns as he builds the snake.
We’ve also used this activity in our airplane travel and it works great, lightweight and keeps him occupied.
At our last library trip, we happened across the cutest story!
The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, is a story about a little girl who thinks she can’t draw until her teacher proves her wrong. She’s inspired to keep trying and eventually inspires others too.
This was the perfect book for J. He is such a perfectionist that he often chooses NOT to do something if he thinks that he won’t be able to do it “right”. This book fulfilled its purpose and inspired my little guy to become an artist!
After reading the book, we decided to create our own art museum of dots. I pulled out markers, crayons, map pencils, water colors and cardstock. J was thrilled. He was confident. He became an artist and loved it! He even wanted to sign his work, just like the little girl in the story.
After all his pieces dried, we hung them in his room. We now have an in-house art museum featuring my favorite artist.
I remember making one of these in kindergarten. Ok, honestly my memory doesn’t work that far back but I do remember seeing the one I made in kindergarten.
J’s is not quite as fancy but it served the same purpose and he is just as proud of authoring his very first book. We even added it to his bookshelf and he often picks it out for us to read together!
PREP: I prefolded and stapled the pages together. (My teacher used a hole punch with rings to connect the pages.) I had a sheet of number stickers from an old workbook with both the numbers and objects to count. This made the prep-work simple since all I had to do was pull out one sheet of stickers. I did quickly add some stickers of like objects, cut into strips for him to count (a strip of 3 smiley face stickers, 4 stars, 5 balloons, etc.) and some individual stickers of a group of objects for him to count (a bouquet of flowers, a basket of eggs, etc).
ACTIVITY: We went through and wrote one number on each page. I then gave him the sheet of number stickers and he matched the stickers to the correct page. He then counted the items on each sticker to place on the correct page. We gave his book a title, “J’s Number Book” (genius I know!) and he had his very first book.
We did this activity at home while I fed baby brother. It required very little physical help from me. My job was basically to encourage. This would be a great travel activity.
Here’s a quick index of activities using these Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads. Just click on the pictures to see more about each activity.
Beads and Pompoms
Beads and Dot Markers
This week is all about finding multiple uses out of these beads from Melissa and Doug.
Here’s our last activity using Melissa and Doug’s Lacing Beads. This is a quick one, but one that kept J entertained for awhile. Basically I just reused yesterday’s activity, but used dot markers instead. I set out a few of the multi-colored lacing beads for him to create with the dot markers.
J loves dot markers. They are a hit everytime I get them out.
J started just playing around on the yellow, orange and red square and decided to cover the entire thing with red dots
This week is all about finding multiple uses out of these beads from Melissa and Doug.
For this activity I brought out the magnetic pompoms which are always a winner in our house. Check out this post to see how I made them.
J used the pompoms to recreate the multi-colored beads. This is great practice with shapes, colors, and size. We started with the circle beads since they were the easiest. He tried starting with the outside color and working his way into the center. Of course judging the size correctly was difficult and he ended up with empty space between each circle. I showed him how to start with the center and work out. Even this simple step added a level of difficulty to the activity since now he had to remember which comes first, second and third.
We moved onto the square beads next. These proved more difficult for him to create on his own. His squares kept looking like circles which frustrated him. I try to sit back and let him trouble-shoot on his own since that is part of the learning process. This particular time he eventually asked me how to make them look like squares. I showed him how to make the corners first and then fill in the rest to create squares. This provided the perfect opportunity to emphasize the 4 corners and 4 equal sides of a square.
**If you don’t own this set of beads from Melissa and Doug, you could easily draw your own design on cardstock to have your little one imitate.**
The circles were easily within his ability and the squares pushed him a bit. We didn’t even attempt the star beads because that was too far out of his ability level. A little frustration during an activity can be good (like he had when creating the square beads). It helps them learn how to deal with it appropriately, keep trying, and even ask if they realize they truly need the help. Too much frustration however would most likely mean the activity is too advanced for them. I knew that would be the case if I had asked him to recreate the stars.
This week is all about finding multiple uses for lacing beads like these from Melissa and Doug.
Since J is into patterns right now, I thought he would find this entertaining. I set out the multi-colored beads and had him imitate the color pattern using …. you guessed it, his cars. Of course you could do the same thing using blocks, magnetic pompoms, or even the solid color beads in the same set.
I’m always trying to think of different uses of the same old toys. This set of lacing beads from Melissa and Doug has found many uses, all of which have been winners for J. This week I’ll highlight some of the ways we’ve used these beads.
J set the number beads in the correct order and then created a “graph” of sorts by lining up the corresponding number of cars beside each bead. In hindsight, I should have set out cars that were all similar lengths. There was no planning involved in this activity though. I just needed something to hold his attention long enough for me to feed his brother. It worked
I found this Fun Food Guide and thought it would work great as encouragement towards healthy eating since J loves filling in charts and graphs and has this innate need to “get all the spots”. So that we didn’t have to keep printing off a new chart, we made it into a reusable placemat.
PREP: I used google images to printout out a ton of pictures of healthy foods from all the food groups. I also attempted a dot-to-dot title using some of the different foods. I had everything precut.
ACTIVITY: He first glued the title in the center of the paper. Then we spread out all the pictures. I called out a food for J to find and glue onto the construction paper. This made the craft a game and also helped me find out which foods he did/didn’t know.
On the other side, he glued down the chart and descriptions of each food group found HERE. He also glued some fruit pictures I found to color.
When all the gluing was finished, I covered the construction paper in clear contact paper. This way I can wipe it clean easily and he can use dry erase markers to write on it.
FUN WAYS TO USE THE PLACEMAT:
- Connect the dots to write the word “Healthy”
- Circle all the pictures of a certain food group
- Circle foods that start with a certain letter
- Circle foods of a certain color
- Check off foods as you try them
- Fill in the chart as you eat each meal
- Color the fruit
We don’t fill the chart in every single day. I usually bring out this placemat when J’s starting to get picky. Since it keeps its novelty, it really helps him to finish his plate so he can color in all the shapes for that particular day.
Age: we started this around 33 months
This activity is great for so many ages. Who doesn’t love bubble wrap!! I must admit that I even still love popping the bubbles just like my 3 year old. This is also a great way to trick your child into showing off what they know, without them realizing what you’re up to.
Prep: All you need is a sheet of large bubble wrap and permanent markers. I filled in the bubbles with numbers, words, shapes, and letters.
During the activity: I called out something on the sheet and J found the correct bubble to pop. Simple as that. I will say that he did have some trouble popping some of the bubbles so about half-way through, I pulled out a toothpick and let him pop them bubbles that way. He thought this was just as fun (probably because he doesn’t get to play with toothpicks too often).
You could adapt this for any age to practice whatever they are currently learning from colors and shapes to addition or multiplication, rhyming or grouping.
Age attempted: 3 years
**ETA: I came across the blog where I originally found the idea. Check out The Activity Mom’s version**