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 gave him a little bowl of Lucky Charms cereal and first had him sort the marshmallows using the sorting printout here. I actually had a bowl of cereal to sort myself. I’ve found this often helps J stay focused and work more independently. Sometimes if he’s doing an activity with me just sitting there next to him, he’ll ask for my help more often. If I have my own activity to work on, he’s fine doing this by himself. It’s also a great way to teach something new since I’m basically modeling what to do (and helped a lot when we did the charting later).
After sorting the marshmallows, he graphed them using the chart here. We practiced reading the graph to find out how many marshmallows he had in each category (without actually counting), and quickly determine which category had the most and the least.
J did really well on this. He waited so patiently to eat his marshmallows (I did let him eat the broken ones and the cereal as we sorted).
Here’s another chart that would work well for coloring, but there’s not enough space for actually charting the marshmallows.
Age attempted: 35 months
This is another of my beloved sticker activities (gotta love cheap, easy and educational!). J did this on one of our plane trips and it worked beautifully.
Sorry the picture isn't very clear; I was using my iphone on a dark plane
Prep: I created a box chart for J to fill in with the number of columns corresponding to the number of colors I had on a sticker sheet. Since he was charting colors and this was the first time he had ever charted anything, I outlined each box in the correct color. Honestly I think I made it too easy for him with this. I just didn’t want to be stuck on the plane with him getting frustrated by an activity that was too difficult. Sadly I underestimated him!
I gave J the long sheet of smiley face stickers of all different colors and he was throughly focused on charting them. The sticker sheet had different shades of each color, so it was also good practice combining the various shades of purple/green. After he was finished, I had him point out the longest line and the shortest line and explained how this helped us gather information about the stickers (which had the most and the least). We then counted and labeled each bar to see if our deductions were correct. Of course, he didn’t understand it all completely. That’s ok. To me, it’s a matter of introducing words and concepts that we’ll build on as he gets older.
Look through your sticker collection to see what you can chart!
Age Attempted: 32 months