This is such a great idea that one of my online friends, Karen uses with her toddler. I asked her to share her great idea for all to enjoy. If your toddler hesitates to pull out those puzzles, this is a great way to add some interest. Thanks Karen!
Not your same old boring puzzle….
Age attempted: 25 months
Shoe size clear plastic tub with lid (for storage)..I bought at dollar general for $1.00
Large bag of uncooked elbow macaroni
½ bag of dry beans
Puzzle of your choice (I use Melissa and Doug’s See-Inside Numbers Peg Puzzle http://melissaanddoug.com/see-inside-numbers-learning-peg-puzzle )
1. Pour the bag of noodles and ½ bag of beans in the tub
2. Pour out an age appropriate puzzle into the tub with mac and beans
3. Have the child hide the puzzle pieces in the mac and beans (or you can show them the first time)
4. Have the child find the pieces of the puzzle and put them into the puzzle board in the right places
I like to put the tub on a child’s table at the child’s reach and the puzzle board on the floor so it’s an up and down work out (but it’s not necessary).
I’ve been doing this with my two year old with a number puzzle he had ZERO interest in. I figured the tactile mac and beans would get him interested in learning his numbers and it was an instant success! We’ve only been doing this for two weeks and he can already find most of numbers in order.
The first time you do this you may want to let your little one explore the mac and beans before pouring in the puzzle pieces.
Alternative: use oatmeal and/or rice in the tub to hide puzzle pieces.
Remember this game? It’s really a great game that keeps toddlers and preschoolers entertained quite well. My mom actually taught J how to play while I was in the hospital after his little brother was born.
It’s actually great practice for them in counting, size, gross motor skills and of course following rules since they have to return to start if they forget “Mother may I?” It made me think, if J can follow the rules to this game well, there’s no excuse for him to forget to follow our house rules like saying “please” or “thank you”, “May I get down now?” or “May I go upstairs now?” and the list goes on and on…
How to play: Designate a starting spot and finishing spot. You stand at the finish line and have your little one stand at the start. You call out different type of movements for them to make as they move towards you. For example, “Take 3 giant steps,” “Take 2 bunny hops,” or “Take 6 skipping steps.” Get creative and have fun with the commands! They must first respond with “Mother may I?” before following out your instructions. If they forget to say “Mother may I?”, they have to return to the beginning to start over again (which is sometimes part of the fun for J!).
J and I take turns. Sometimes he gives the commands and sometimes I do. Either way, it makes for great and cheap fun. This is something you can play while waiting in the doctor’s office, in a hotel room, while you’re cooking dinner, feeding the baby,… You gotta love these good old fashioned activities that required nothing! Why do we make things so intricate today?? It’s really not all that hard to entertain kids J
My cousin recommended this idea after seeing J’s grocery list on this post (My Little Helper: Grocery Shopping) and we finally tried it out at the store.
Prep: I did a quick search for some of the logos of items on my grocery list, copy and paste and I’m done. The internet makes this so simple and quick!
I didn’t pull it out at the grocery store until I knew we were about to start hitting the items on the list so basically we’d already gone through produce and meats. J’s list also did not include everything on my list. It was funny how he immediately knew what certain items were when I handed him the list. Like he knew that the Yoplait logo meant yogurt or the Lactaid logo was milk. This not only keeps them busy while shopping, it was also great practice with word recognition and letter recognition.
J really liked this, even better than the other grocery lists honestly. I think it helped too that I gave him a highlighter to check off his list rather than the normal crayon or pen :)
For younger ones, I would put the items in the order that you’ll reach them in the store. Another thing that works well is to fold the list in half or in thirds so they are just looking at a few items on the list at a time.
You could use this as a scavenger hunt rather than a grocery list that kids would love (which means they’re focused while you shop!). And this would actually make the list even easier to create since it wouldn’t matter which items you included.
Age attempted: 33 months
Posted in Age Range, Chores, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Games, Homemade Games, Letters, Life Skills, My Little Helper, Outside, Preschool (4-5 years), Reading and Writing, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Chores, Homemade Games, Life Skills
When I was posting on the Mini Car Wash, I came across a photo that reminded me of something other mom’s might find useful during bathtime..
J has gone through phases where he HATED water in his face. I have always just dumped and moved on, sometimes he was ok with that sometimes he was NOT. I did try to teach him to hold his head up, but fear always made him tilt it right back down.
And then we happened upon this little “game” during bathtime. I got him to try to catch the water dripping from his head in a cup. Getting him focused on this was just what he needed to forget about the water in his face. It works so well for him. In fact if you look closely at the photo, you can see water droplets falling from his eyelashes too, but he could care less since he’s focused elsewhere.
As he got better with catching the water, we moved to containers with smaller openings to increase the difficulty. He likes to try and fill up a bottle, douse the toy fish inside a bowl, drip water onto those little growing sponges, or even get the stream to flow in between his fingers.
We don’t play this game every bathtime anymore since he will now hold his head up. But every now and then he wants to play it again.
I imagine this game would work unless your little one has very short hair since the water needs to drip off the longer hair to form streams.
Age attempted: 2 years
We recently played this game and I wanted to hurry and get it posted in case anyone out there was making Magnetic Pompoms to give as a Christmas gift. All you have to do is add dice to the gift for an extra activity!
What you need: Magnetic pompoms (or any type of marker really, dot markers, M&Ms, coins,…); Magnetic surface, Die (I found extra large foam dice at Target for $2), and your playing board of choice (you will need enough for each player to have their own board)
How to play: 1st player rolls the die and gets to place that number of pompoms onto their board. 2nd player follows. Continue until someone fills all spaces on their board with pompoms to win.
Simple enough! This is a good way to encourage counting and even basic addition and subtraction if wanted. Obviously the greater number of empty spaces on your board, the longer the game will last (and the more counting practice). You can use multiple dice at a time to encourage higher counting if your game board has enough empty spaces. Add a color spinner for an extra element of fun and some color matching (they must use both the correct number of pompoms AND in the correct color).
Scroll to the bottom of this link for lots of board options to choose from or you can make your own!
Age attempted: 31 months (if they can count to 6, they can play this game)
We played this fun and simple game and ever since J has been bringing me the stocking and asking to play again.
How to Play: Gather a group of items from around the house with different shapes, textures, and purpose. Older children could handle more suddle differences in the objects. Keep them hidden from sight. Place one item in a Christmas stocking and have your little one feel inside and make a guess at what the item is. I encouraged J to describe the item as he felt it to help him make an educated guess.
This is so simple, no reason not to try it! With older kids you could even make this a game you play on Christmas morning. Younger ones might have a hard time with guessing items they’ve haven’t seen yet.
This is great for exploring textures, using simple deductive reasoning, and practicing descriptive words.
Last night we reversed rolls. He hid things inside and brought me the stocking to make a guess. It actually worked great while I was cooking. It kept him well occupied. Every few minutes I heard, “Mommy no peeking! Just look!” (What he meant was, “no peeking, just feel”). Of course it took him awhile to realize he should let me make a guess before he told me what it was. He was just so excited!
Age attempted: 31 months (certainly can be done earlier!)
**I’m even categorizing this as a good travel activity since a similar version could easily be done in the car or on a plane. Just use a bag or the seat-back pocket on the plane.
Posted in Age Range, Christmas, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Games, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Games, Preschool (4-5 years), Science, Textures, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
I put together these activities for a friend’s little girl. While mommy is serving in Iraq, I thought this busy box might help to keep her little one busy and hopefully even allow her dad some much needed time off from entertaining. Most of the activities are homemade, repurposing items from around the house as is my norm. I housed them in a simple decorative box. J’s own “busy box” is kept in a closet and the activities are only brought out at certain times throughout the week. This helps keep it’s novelty. Some of the activities are repeats from the 1 year old Busy Box I made my niece awhile back, though I tried to make them a bit more difficult for the older age. You’ll also notice that these activities are mostly ones I’ve mentioned in previous posts. When I make a busy box, I try to pick the most successful activities from J’s experience, many of these are motor skill activities. Some of these activities are things Ella can enjoy now and some she will grow into in the next few months.
You’ll have to excuse my poor decorating abilities. That is certainly not my forte. Most of the original toys that I made for J aren’t decorated at all. J never seemed to mind, so hopefully little Ella will look past the covers and still enjoy the meat of the activities!
1. Pushing Puff Balls – this is a fine motor activity and has always kept J entertained; see this post for more info
2. Color Sorting Pipe Cleaners – again a fine motor activity and I added practice with colors; this is probably the favorite homemade toy for J; see this post and this post for more info
3. Color Wheel – practice with colors and fine motor skills; you can use the wheel in other ways too. See this post and this post fore more.
4. Puzzles -These foam puzzles were one of the best buys for J. They were just $1 at our local grocery store and I picked them up on the fly one time. When I saw them there months later, I bought a few more as gifts. I bring the color puzzle on plane trips sometimes since there are few pieces and it’s very light.
5. Family Bag – this is similar to J’s family magnet pics. I added each family member’s name to Ella’s pics, laminated them (with contact paper) and gave her a little purse to carry them in. J has loved his family pics since before he was one. I thought adding the names could encourage name recognition.
6. Seed Family Worship CD – I had previously sent one of their CDs to my friend while she’s in Iraq, but thought her daughter might like one too. These cd’s are really great and not just for kids IMO. They are an excellent way to help us write God’s Word on our hearts. See this post for more.
7. Fish Counting and Matching file folder game – J has a similar matching game, I just made this one a bit more durable by adding it to a file folder for safe keeping. The envelope holds the laminated fish cards to match as well as the fish to place on the counting page. I found the counting template here from Tot school and have used it many times with J.
8. Sponge Jewelry – a fine motor activity and again a favorite of J’s, simply thread the sponges onto the pipe cleaners. I found a greater variety of sponges for Ella’s jewelry. A girl needs to match! See this post for more info.
Posted in Age Range, Birthday, Colors, Counting, Early Toddler (18-24 months), Games, Holidays and Seasons, Homemade Toys, Letters, Math, Motor Skills, Music, Patterns, Products, Reading and Writing, Subject, Table Time
Tagged Busy Box, Colors, Counting, Great Products, Homemade Toys, matching, Motor Skills
I got this idea from Little Hands, Big Work (an awesome blog by the way!) and tried it the very next day. We all know how much I LOVE sidewalk chalk. :)
(See this post or this post for more on sidewalk chalk)
You basically draw circle paths along the driveway in various colors. You’ll notice in my picture that our paths were quite easy with only a couple intersecting colors. The idea is to call out a color and have your toddler jump, run or skip along that particular color route.
The activity was definitely a win! J took to it immediately (though he didn’t always want to follow the rules of the game!) I should also mention that the neighborhood kids loved this activity too. I had kids coming to play on my driveway all week!
Age Attempted: 24 months (he could’ve done this earlier I think); You could make this harder by adding more colors, more intersections, drawing different shape paths (in repeated colors, so they would have to follow the red triangles NOT the red hearts).
Today was H for Hat day. These are the Letter H activities we did today. You’ll notice that some of them are focused on the letter and some on the sound of the letter. The activities were not done back to back, but spaced out throughout the day! You could also space them throughout the week.
1. H for Hat craft – This is the way I introduced the letter H to him. I presented a blank color sheet with both the upper and lower case letter. We discussed the name and sound of the letter. Then I showed him his Leap Frog fridge toy and had it tell him the name and sound of the letter too (it has a cute sing-song version that J loves). We colored the color page and I talked about words that start with the letter H. We focused on hat. While he was coloring, I gave him a hat to wear. Then I brought out some cutouts of hats (from clipart) and he glued the pictures on his coloring page. He really liked this and wanted more hats when he ran out! A lesson is small disappointments turned out well too!
For an older child, you could have lots of different possible H pics or even a mixture of some that start with H and some that don’t so they have to separate them.
2. Hat Hunt in the Dark – I mentioned a similar version of this game in this post. I just revamped it for “H is for Hat” day. I prepped this activity by setting up hats all over his room, turned the the lights off and had an empty box and a flashlight by his door. Before we walked into his room, I explained the game. “Mommy has hidden hats all over your room. I want you to use the flashlight to find all the hats and place them in this box!” He did a great job. He loves using a flashlight so that made the game extra fun for him. After he filled the box with all the hats, we both tried them on together. Then he lined them all up and walked back and forth straddling them (his own addition to” H is for Hat” day activities!).
3. Playdoh – I bought this great set of cookie cutters from Target that have letters, numbers, shapes, animals, vehicles,… (101 pieces). So I brought out the letter H to let J stamp with. As a good review we made letters A-H and sang the alphabet song.
4. Hats or No Hats game – I found a lot of great smiley face figures in clipart and printed them out. Half of the smiley faces were wearing hats and the other half were not. I cut them out and laminated them (with contact paper) to create little cards. I made a simple table using painters tape on our kitchen floor and labeled one column “Hats” and the second column “No Hats” (using his stuffed animals as an example). He had to categorize the picture cards in the correct column. I will say he lost interest in this midway. I think the problem was he felt sorry for Doggie because he didn’t have as many smiley faces as Teddy did. J hit a point where he wanted to give more smileys to Doggie. When I asked him to look again to see if that smiley was supposed to go to Doggie (because it technically wasn’t), his response was to remove the hat from Teddy’s head and place it on Doggie…. so Doggie could now have the smiley and mom could be satisfied too! The game ended at this point. I was too busy laughing :)
5. Sidewalk Chalk – if it had not been raining, I would’ve reviewed with this as well. Instead I reviewed with his magnetic letters… and then we spent some extra time playing with J’s train set instead. See this post to discover why sidewalk chalk helps so much that Mondays are designated sidewalk chalk day in our house.
Throughout all the activities I refreshed his memory on the look and sound of letter H. I keep up the reminders throughout the remaining week.