Category Archives: Fill and Empty

Pouring Practice

Simple pouring practice kept my J occupied for 2 hours.  He was soaking wet by the end of the two hours but had so much fun (apparently he needs a little more practice before I hand over the milk).

We did this activity inside (it was BRUTALLY hot outside).  TIP: I bought a waterproof tablecover to lay down for activities like this. It’s more sturdy than a tarp, so it stays in one place easily.  And it does a great job in trapping the water so it doesn’t hit my new wood floors! We also use the tablecover when finger paiting inside and under the pool for our indoor snowbox. It’s more expensive than a towel or simple tarp but worth the expense in my opinion.  And we can always use it as it’s intended too! :)

I gave him two trays (found at Target) a bowl of water and some different containers.  I asked him to pretend each container was a cup that needed to be filled with the water before setting the table for dinner.  I would’ve used real cups, but every single cup in my house was in the dishwasher.  Btw, how do 3 people go through every cup in the house in such a short time???  Toy tea sets would work perfectly for this.

My goal was for him to learn when to stop pouring to keep the “cups” from overflowing.  He tends to pour until the water hits the very tip of the cup which of course makes spilling guaranteed.  I used this to teach him when to stop pouring.

Was this a successful lesson, well yes and no.  Yes, he learned how to do it “right” but he didn’t necessarily enjoy doing it right.  He would much rather pour until it spills!

After the pouring practice, he just played and played and played.  I was so surprised he stayed focus for so long.  I just added some new utencils or containers every half hour.

Waterplay utencils that J finds entertaining:

  • medicine droppers and dispensers
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • bottles
  • milk carton with holes poked in the bottom (to create rain showers)
  • nasal aspirator
  • tubes
  • funnels
  • baster
  • squirt bottle
  • serving tray
  • muffin pan
  • ice cube tray
  • flask
  • tea kettle
  • bowls
  • buckets
  • paint brush
  • water wheel
  • sponge

What utencils does your little one like to play with in the water?

Archeological Dig for Toddlers

Well, I don’t know if “archeological” would be correct since we were digging for puff balls!! But J found them very intriguing :)

I filled a plastic tray with rice and hid pom pom balls inside.  I also set out a few scoopers and an empty tray next to it.  At the last minute I added a cookie drying rack on top of the empty tray.  It’s holes were big enough to let the rice fall through but small enough to keep the pom pom balls from falling.  I showed J how to scoop up the rice and then empty it on top of the drying rack to find the pom pom balls.  He then separated the pom pom balls by color into small bowls. 

He loved this activity. 

Age attempted: 23 months (could be done earlier; for really young toddlers you could leave out the scoopers and just let them dig with their hands)

Lesson Learned:  I set out a beach towel underneath, but I should’ve used the plastic table protector instead.  It is heavier and doesn’t move around as much.  I could’ve used the empty baby pool too. 

Homemade Toy: Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle

This activity is a huge winner.   I once read about giving toddlers spaghetti pasta to fit inside empty spice containers in the “Toddler Busy Book”.  I tried this first (with an empty water bottle since he was too young to fit the spaghetti in the tiny spice holes) but the spaghetti kept breaking and then I was worried he’d try to eat the pieces.  It just didn’t work with J so young.  So I changed the activity and gave him pipe cleaners with the empty bottle instead.  I twisted the pipe cleaners in half so they were more sturdy and bent the ends around so they were safe.  J loved loved loved this.  It is definitely in the top 10 toys he owns.  I now include it when making a  Busy Box for 1 year olds.
It’s a great activity to help little ones practice motor skills.  The length of the pipe cleaners makes it more difficult to fit inside the bottle than a puff ball or anything small enough to fit into their hands.  J often tried to hold the bottle in one hand and the pipe cleaner in his other hand so it required steady hands (something he did not have at first!)  As he’s gotten older and in better control of his muscles I’ve decreased the size of the mouth on the bottle.  He now uses an empty parmesan container with the holes in the lid or a plastic lid that I punched holes into.  I’ve also seen an activity online that colored around each hole to encourage their toddler to match the colors during the activity (though I can’t remember where!).  I liked that idea, but haven’t used it yet.  It would definitely increase the difficulty. 
It’s funny how we don’t realize all the skills we had to master in order to do things like pouring, sorting, threading, etc. It’s fun watching J learn these things.  This is one of J’s favorite activities between ages 11 months and maybe 18 months.  
      
It’s a perfect plane activity since it keeps him occupied for so long and is so light to carry while traveling.  In fact, he just enjoyed this toy on our plane ride this morning at 22 months.  Again it’s light, keeps them busy for an extended time and the pipe cleaners can be used for other things (make jewelry, letters, shapes, chains, threading,…).
Age attempted: I can’t remember exactly when I first introduced this; I know my neice is able to do it at 12 months right now.
Teachable Moments:  In and Out, show them how to hold the bottle still while moving the pipe cleaner, fine motor skills, color matching,
Try Again?  He is still intrigued at 23 months!  I made the activity more difficult as he got older.
 
Here’s the cuter version I made for my neice.  I just punched holes into the top of an Empty Puffs container.

Snow Cream

Winter continues.  I think all parents get a little tired of being stuck inside right around this time of year.   The good thing is I’m getting to try out lots of activities with J.  With the unusual winter we’re having, many of those activities involve snow.  I brought out the snowbox again today and J played for a full hour.  

This afternoon we tried snowcream for the first time.  Yes I had never tasted it either, being a true southerner.   Honestly, I had never heard about it until this year!!  So I googled it to find a recipe and J and I mixed up a batch together.  J helps me cook or bake each Friday; this was by far the easiest thing we’ve made together.  He helped me pour the sugar, vanilla, and milk into the snow.  Using specific directions like “fill the cup with sugar” or “empty the cup” is always good reinforcement.  Of course he also helped stir until it looked just right!   He loved it…. eating it that is.  I mean really loved it.  I think he would’ve eaten the entire half gallon had I not stopped him. 

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 gallon snow
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

You'll need these ingredients.... plus snow!

DIRECTIONS:  Collect snow as it falls inside a bowl.  Add sugar and vanilla to taste and then add milk until you see the right consistency.

The recipe is from allrecipes.com http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Snow-Ice-Cream-II/Detail.aspx

**I made only about half a gallon and think I added too much sugar (half a cup). It was VERY sweet!  I’m sure that’s one reason why J loved it so much!  Next time I will start with less sugar and work up. 

22 months

Age Attempted: 22 months

Try Again?  I’m sure this will become a special snack each time it snows!  As he gets older he can measure out the ingredients and eventually read the recipe too.

Tape Shapes

J got a great gift from his Aunt… colorful bean bags!!  I’m so excited to use them for lots of fun!  This is my first official activity using them.  I used painters tape to create various shapes on thekitchen floor, in this case a square, triangle and rectangle.  We’re currently emphasizing the rectangle in our house since it’s one of the basic shapes that J hasn’t consistently recognized yet.  I chose the triangle and the square because he’s better as those (adding just one unfamiliar shape at a time).

I then gave J specific directions, “Toss the green beanbag into the square!”  He enjoyed trying to toss them inside the shapes.  I requested a specific color bean bag to reinforce colors.  He’s pretty good at most of his colors which kept this activity focused more on the shapes.  You could definitely use the painted shapes without the bean bags… “Crawl to the circle! Walk to the square!  Walk backwards to the triangle!”

This was also a great way to emphasize inside and outside as well as fill and empty (“Empty the triangle!”)

As a side note – I left these shapes on the floor for a full week.  They’re very convenient!  If you need your toddler contained for a bit, “J, sit on the square!  Eat your snack in the rectangle!”  It gives them obvious boundaries and helps them easily understand what you’re asking of them. 

22 months

Age Attempted?  22 months

Try Again?  Yes, maybe different activities using the floor shapes.

Gluing Cotton Balls

This is a great first attempt at gluing.  It went better than using a glue stick actually.  I just put a small amount of glue on a paper plate and showed J how to dip the cotton ball into the glue and then onto the paper.  The cotton ball is the perfect size for his hand.  He doesn’t end up with glue all over his hands with this activity. 

This first time I had J glue cotton balls wasn’t too creative.  I was really just filling time with an idea in the back of my head (I think it was from the Toddler Busy Book). As you can see with our example, it isn’t too impressive.  It has been snowing outside earlier that week, so I told him we were going to make a snow picture.  That was enough for J. :)  It was simply good practice for him, but not necessarily a project to frame.

Please don’t laugh at my snowman.  I just decided to show him how to stack three snowballs on top of each other, to create a snowman.  I grabbed the nearest marker and quickly added a hat, face and arms.  He was impressed.  God bless this child who loves mom’s poor artwork!   

Age attempted:  around 19 months I think; I definitely could’ve tried this at an earlier age.

Teachable Moments:  I didn’t really capitalize on this!  I just focused on teaching him the purpose of glue and how to correctly use it.

Future Potential:  Have him glue the correct number cotton balls next to the number fo the day.  Have him fill a shape (work on inside/outside; filling) with cotton balls; clouds at the end of a rainbow,  hmmm… that’s all I’ve got!