This isn’t flashy and I’m even a bit embarassed to show this activity. BUT it’s a good way to incorporate some extra practice into your day. No need to get extravagant to teach a toddler! You really can’t get any easier than this and your little one will love it.
We had some leftover Cheez-it from a Sunday school activity, so I brought it home and put it to good use. I figured it doesn’t provide much nutritional value so I might as well get some education value out of it!
We’ve used it for counting practice. I called out a number and he had to find the cracker with that many dots to eat.
We’ve used it for letter practice. I set up a column of upper case letters and a column of lower case letters and he matched them together. I then called out a letter sound and he got to eat that letter.
You could easily introduce numbers or letters this way or of course practice shapes and size too.
Age attempted: 2 years; can certainly be done earlier
Posted in Age Range, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Letters, Math, Reading and Writing, Shapes, Size, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Size
J absolutely loves puzzles. He also adores anything Thomas! I LOVE a bargain, so this homemade toy is perfect for both of us. My goal was to create a Thomas counting puzzle. I tried finding one to buy and only found a wooden puzzle for $10. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, and the price was nowhere NEAR what I was hoping for. So I made a Thomas counting puzzle myself.
I searched online for images of all the different Thomas trains, hoping to find #1-20. This was the longest part of the process. It turns out they aren’t so easy to find which I found odd considering their popularity. I also could never find number 13, perhaps they’re superstious and left that one off? **If anyone DOES know of a #13 train, please let me know. ** Our puzzle stops at 12 for now, but I can easily add on to it in the future.
If this works, here’s the link for the pdf I made with all the pictures. Thomas puzzle
The puzzle is meant to be in one long line, I just split it up for the photo
I printed the pictures of each train and glued them (using Mod Podge) onto the back of some small foam puzzle squares I found at the dollar store. This step took me probably 15 minutes. I used 2 store-bought puzzless to have enough pieces for trains 1-12. Some of the longer trains take up two puzzle pieces.
The nice thing is J can also turn the puzzle pieces over and do the store-bought puzzle too. So 3 puzzles for $2 seems to be a good deal in my book and it was so easy to make! I think this would be a good homemade Christmas present for toddlers
Age attempted: 29 months, definitely could be done much earlier
Edited to add: Here’s the list of Thomas trains #1-12. Since J wants to know their names, I added those on my finished puzzle too.
This was a simple but effective activity for J when we were focusing on numbers and counting. I just drew out the blank rectangles and titled the page in a matter of seconds, took out some stickers and had J place two stickers in each rectangle. He had no trouble to with this, though I do think doing the number three instead would have been quite difficult for him. We counted each sticker as he placed them in the rectangles.
A side benefit to this activity was it gave him a review of a rectangle (often confused with a square for J) and it ended up being a good fine motor activity since he had to place the sticker inside the rectangles. When all the rectangles were filled with two stickers, he asked me to draw more rectangles to fill. I think he liked it! As you can see in the picture, he helped me draw the last few rectangles.
Age attempted: 24 months
**This would be a good plane activity similar to the color matching post.
Posted in Age Range, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Math, Motor Skills, Shapes, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
Tagged Counting, Shapes, Travel
He asked me to draw more smiley faces on the paper afterwards.
In my post about our last plane trip, I mentioned a sticker activity that J did on the plane. It worked perfectly for the trip so I thought I would share.
I had some smiley face stickers in various colors that J has for whatever reason fallen in love with. On a sheet of paper I made 5 large circles using the colors of the stickers I had (purple, red, green, yellow and pink). I gave J the sheet of stickers along with the paper with empty circles and he placed the stickers inside it’s circle match. We then counted the number of stickers inside each circle, which in our case was different for each circle.
This offered practice matching colors, some fine motor practice (peeling the stickers off and placing them in the correct spot on the paper), and then with counting too. It wasn’t too hard for J, which is ideal for plane activities. I like the activities we do to keep him busy, involve my help at times, but also something he could do on his own. Because there was a set goal to be accomplished, it kept him busy until all stickers were transfered. As he’s getting older, TIP: I like our plane activities to have specific goals to encourage him to stay with it longer than he might if left on his own since my offical goal is to keep him occupied and content for the duration of the flight. If he wants to do more stickers afterwards that’s fine, but I know he will at least remain occupied until the end of the activity. Of course this activity doesn’t have to be done on a plane.
You could do the same type of activity while practicing shapes and number recognition too (in fact, there’s a number activity coming up in a future post).
Age: 25 months
Posted in Age Range, Colors, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Math, Preschool (4-5 years), Shapes, Subject, Table Time, Toddler (2-3 years), Travel Activities
Tagged Colors, Counting, Shapes, Travel
I thought I’d share something my husband did while practicing counting with J on the fly after dinner. He would hold an orange and say “How many oranges is Daddy holding?” J would answer, they would count them out together and then he would ask if J wanted to hold the same number of oranges. They started at one and worked their way up until there were no more oranges They counted out the number of oranges in their hands each time. J had fun trying to hold all those oranges like Daddy could. It made it a game for him.
It was simple but effective. Gotta love a dad that sees the opportunities to teach during an after-dinner snack!
Age: 26 months
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 found these puzzles online (I’ll add the link as soon as I find it again!). I thought they were so cute and decided to make them myself (as if we don’t already have enough number puzzles!). I only made numbers 1-5 because I wanted to be sure J enjoyed them first. They are just glue and foam and weren’t too difficult to make.
I have to be honest, the first time J saw these didn’t go so well. He mostly wanted to try and pull the little circles off of the pieces. When I made it clear this was not allowed, he wasn’t too interested in the game. He made it through number 1 and 2 and went off to play with something else. He was 23 months at the time and loved puzzles, just not these! I was a bit disappointed. So I put them away for awhile and tried again when he was 25 months and he flew through them so easily.
As a review of the activity itself, I’m not that impressed. He really matched the colors more than focused on counting and color matching is not something he needs practice on. All in all the puzzles are cute, but not worth the effort IMO. I don’t think I’ll be making more. If I had it all to do again, I would at least keep the colors the same for all the pieces to encourage him to actually practice with his numbers and counting.
Age attempted: 23 months (not interested in them); 25 months
I recently bought him these large number puzzles that are really great IMO. Each number has the corresponding amount of pieces to create it (#2 has two pieces, #8 is an eight piece puzzle), they are shaped as the number itself and they have the corresponding number of animals on it too. This provides LOTS of opportunities to count just by completing the set. I also bought it at a discount store, so it was a cheap find!!
After we completed the puzzles, J got out his many other number puzzles and began to match the numbers. He came up with this activity on his own.
(Don’t ask me why we have so many number puzzles!!)
I’m really late in posting about this since we did this back around Easter. It really doesn’t have to be done with Easter though.
Egg Surprises – I found random “surprises” that could fit inside a plastic egg and also match the color of the egg. J first opened each egg to discover what was inside and then he returned them to the correct colored egg. Simple to create and fun for J!
I also did a number activity with the eggs. I numbered 12 eggs and then we practiced counting by putting the eggs in order inside the carton.
My SIL told me about an easy activity that my nephew’s preschool teacher did with the class. She numbered 12 plastic eggs and then numbered the holes in an egg carton. The kids had to match the numbers. This would be something J could do better on his own. With just the egg’s numbered, it requires me to stay with him to help.
Altering the traditional egg hunt a bit - J actually had 3 egg hunts over Easter and I noticed that he J wasn’t too interested in the traditional random egg hunt. He kept looking at me with this, “Why do I have to pick up the eggs??? I didn’t put them there!!” But when I gave him a bit of a challenge along with the egg hunt, he really had fun with it.
We did a solo hunt alone with these animal matching eggs I got at Walmart. I started by showing him an animal egg and telling him to find the match somewhere in the yard. Then we moved onto the next animal egg until we had matched them all. He really liked this.
We also did a family hunt with his cousins where he was given 2 different colored eggs to search for. He could only pick up orange and green eggs. This worked really well, kept him engaged and kept his older cousins from finding all the eggs before J got some.
Age attempted: 23 months at first
Posted in Age Range, Colors, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Easter, Holidays and Seasons, Math, Preschool (4-5 years), Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
This is a quick post to show one way we practice counting. This was when we were working on number two. I used some cookie cutters I got from Target (included numbers, shapes, letters, animals, transportation,…) and we first made some playdoh cutouts of the number two. Then we counted and made two cutouts of different animals, placing a number two by each pair.
J loves playdoh and it’s an easy way to practice almost any lesson from shapes, colors, letters, numbers, size,…