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
We focused on “I for Ice” today and included some science in our lessons!
Ice Painting: This was how I introduced the letter I to him. It was a hit. I gave J a piece of paper with both the upper and lower case letter I and we talked about the letter, it’s sound, and then let the LeapFrog fridge phonics toy repeat the letter and sound. We also filled in the block letters with stickers.
Since “ice” was our I-word for the day, I gave him some homemade popsicles (made from Kool-aid) and showed him how he could paint with them. I got this idea from the Toddler Busy Book. Surprisingly, he was so interested in painting that he did not consider eating the popsicles until the very end. (During this activity, he pointed out that the paper was wet, so I started our science lesson by telling him as the ice gets warm it melts and becomes water) **You could also use plain ice and construction paper to paint similar to this.
Ice Melting Bags: This was our science activity that went well with I for Ice day. I had already made several different colored ice cubes the night before using food coloring. I had J separate the different colors into sandwich bags and we taped them to the dishwasher so they would be at his eye level. We described the ice together (cold, hard, heart-shaped in our case). I opened the freezer door and had him feel inside. He noticed that it was cold in the freezer. I told him that ice needed to be kept cold or it would melt, so we kept it in the freezer. I asked him if he remembered what happens to ice when it gets warm and he did!! He replied “water!” By this point our ice bags had already begun to melt, so I had him look for water in the bags. He was excited to find some in a couple of the bags! Throughout the afternoon, we kept an eye on our ice bags. I pointed out that the ice was getting smaller and the water in the bag was increasing. We talked about the different properties of ice and water. By dinnertime, he was excited to show daddy his bags (of now colored water) and to tell him that the ice had become water because they got warm. I got the general idea from http://www.preschoolrainbow.org/toddler-theme.htm.
You could easily turn this into a color mixing activity or get more specific by placing more ice in one bag and noticing how it melts slower this way, discuss why,…
Ice Blocks - This was a simple activity with really no prep and no clean up. I gave J a bowl of ice cubes and he built with them…. kind of. At first we made letters and shapes with them (of course we made the letter I) but as they melted a bit, we could start stacking them to create walls/towers.
Other things we did:
- I pulled out all of J’s letter books and had him search for the letter I page. He then wanted to show his stuffed Pooh all of the letter I’s.
- I had printed an extra Letter I page (they were big block letters) and I had him fill in the letters with blocks, pompoms, stickers, and paperclips.\
- It’s raining AGAIN, so I used painter’s tape to write both the upper and lower case letter I on our kitchen floor. (I reused last weeks triangle tape because painter’s tape can get expensive!!) Our letter I will stay up all week.
- He got a popsicle as a special snack (probably his favorite “activity” of the day. He was VERY engaged while eating his popsicle!
Age attempted: 23 months
Posted in Age Range, Arts and Crafts, Colors, Early Toddler (18-24 months), Hot and Cold, Letters, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Reading and Writing, Science, Subject, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Colors, Letters, Science
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.