# Category Archives: Shapes

I came across this brilliant idea for sunbleached puzzles.  They were so easy to create and great entertainment (and practice) for a puzzle-lover. It was also a great little lesson in the sun’s effects.

I set out foam bath letters and numbers on dark construction paper and left them to sunbathe awhile on the deck.  J enjoyed watching the process, impressed by the magical results! We then brought it all inside to start putting it all together.  You can make this activity more difficult by adding extra foam letters to the choices.

This is great practice at letter recognition.  It’s also great way to help them learn how to spell their name, memorize their phone number or address.

The link above used magnetic letters and shape blocks to create their puzzles.  You could also cut your own shapes out of colorful foam.

This week is all about finding multiple uses out of these beads from Melissa and Doug.

Here’s our last activity using Melissa and Doug’s Lacing Beads.  This is a quick one, but one that kept J entertained for awhile.  Basically I just reused yesterday’s activity, but used dot markers instead.  I set out a few of the multi-colored lacing beads for him to create with the dot markers.

J loves dot markers.  They are a hit everytime I get them out.

J started just playing around on the yellow, orange and red square and decided to cover the entire thing with red dots 🙂

This week is all about finding multiple uses out of these beads from Melissa and Doug.

For this activity I brought out the magnetic pompoms which are always a winner in our house.  Check out this post to see how I made them.

J used the pompoms to recreate the multi-colored beads.  This is great practice with shapes, colors, and size.  We started with the circle beads since they were the easiest.  He tried starting with the outside color and working his way into the center.  Of course judging the size correctly was difficult and he ended up with empty space between each circle.  I showed him how to start with the center and work out.  Even this simple step added a level of difficulty to the activity since now he had to remember which comes first, second and third.

We moved onto the square beads next.  These proved more difficult for him to create on his own.  His squares kept looking like circles which frustrated him.  I try to sit back and let him trouble-shoot on his own since that is part of the learning process.  This particular time he eventually asked me how to make them look like squares.  I showed him how to make the corners first and then fill in the rest to create squares.  This provided the perfect opportunity to emphasize the 4 corners and 4 equal sides of a square.

**If you don’t own this set of beads from Melissa and Doug, you could easily draw your own design on cardstock to have your little one imitate.**

The circles were easily within his ability and the squares pushed him a bit.  We didn’t even attempt the star beads because that was too far out of his ability level. A little frustration during an activity can be good (like he had when creating the square beads).  It helps them learn how to deal with it appropriately, keep trying, and even ask if they realize they truly need the help.  Too much frustration however would most likely mean the activity is too advanced for them.  I knew that would be the case if I had asked him to recreate the stars.

## Fun Bubble Wrap “Exam”

This activity is great for so many ages.  Who doesn’t love bubble wrap!!  I must admit that I even still love popping the bubbles just like my 3 year old.  This is also a great way to trick your child into showing off what they know, without them realizing what you’re up to.

Prep:  All you need is a sheet of large bubble wrap and permanent markers.  I filled in the bubbles with numbers, words, shapes, and letters.

During the activity: I called out something on the sheet and J found the correct bubble to pop.  Simple as that.  I will say that he did have some trouble popping some of the bubbles so about half-way through, I pulled out a toothpick and let him pop them bubbles that way.  He thought this was just as fun (probably because he doesn’t get to play with toothpicks too often).

You could adapt this for any age to practice whatever they are currently learning from colors and shapes to addition or multiplication, rhyming or grouping.

Age attempted: 3 years

**ETA: I came across the blog where I originally found the idea.  Check out The Activity Mom’s version**

When I was writing the Apple Picking post, I realized I never actually introduced our magnetic pompoms.  This has been a great homemade toy for J.  I saw it multiple places online when J was much younger and just waited until I was confident he would be safe with the small magnets.  We’ve never had one fall off, but you never know. I wouldn’t leave little ones alone with this toy until you were 100% confident they wouldn’t try a taste test.

This is a great addition to a busy box gift for older toddlers/preschoolers.  Include the pompoms, a small cookie sheet (found at dollar stores) and some blank templates and/or patterns to follow.  A great and unique toy on a budget. It would even be a good homemade Christmas gift.

To Make: All you do is hot glue magnets onto the back of pompom balls.  Use the free magnets you get in the mail to save money or buy roll of magnets from the craft store.  You won’t need an entire roll, so it can be used for other things as well.  Be sure to include a variety of color pompoms and a large number of each color.  The more you have, the more your little one can create.  You can also use multiple sizes of pompoms if you want (I’ve only made one size).  Add a cookie sheet and you have a great toy.   Something about pompoms intrigues kids.

1. They can design pictures freely.

No my toddler did not create this picture 🙂  This is one I made for him as he called out things to create.  I forgot to snap pictures of his creations, though he makes a pretty good sun!

This homemade toy can be as simple as this and it will be worth the effort.

2. Black and white templates can be printed for them to fill in creatively.

I made this blank pompom template  for J to use.  You can also check out the links at the bottom of this post for sites I’ve found with printables.

3. Color printouts encourage them to match the correct colors.

Here he is matching the pompoms to the corresponding colored circle in the gumball machine.  This type of activity is especially good for younger toddlers that are still working on their colors and fine motor skills.

It’s really easy to create your own, just copy and paste from Google images and add some colorful circles.

4. Patterns, sorting, counting, and colors

I started the patterns and he found the right pompoms to continue it.  You could also show them a picture of a pattern and ask them to copy it on their own.  Preschoolers could work on much more intricate patterns or designs.

This shows some color sorting as well as our intro to bar graphs where he compared the different bars to decide which had the most/the least, which were equal,…  We finished by counting each bar to see we were right.

6. Shapes, Location

As of now we create them together, he copies my examples (or tries to),  or he gives me instructions on what to create and where (good directional practice for them).

For older ones you can give them instructions to create a certain color/size shape, include location of the shape to increase the difficulty (ex: make a purple triangle inside the circle).

6. Letters and Numbers

Have your little one trace letters and numbers or “write” them on their own using the pompoms.  You can draw large block letters or numbers for them to fill in with the pompoms.  They can match the correct number of pompoms next to the correct number.  Or check out the list of online templates I found.

I’ve seen activity books for Dot Markers that would work well with magnetic pompoms.  Of course any of the templates for magnetic pompoms could also be used with Dot Markers or circles stickers too.

Other Printable Templates:

Shapes  and Colors (from Home Grown Hearts)

Number cards (from 1+1+1=1)

Numbers (from Making Learning Fun)

Upper Case Letters and Lower Case letters (from Making Learning Fun)

B&W Pictures (From Making Learning Fun)

Color Pictures (From Making Learning Fun)

(For the Making Learning Fun templates, I had to copy the templates and paste it onto ppt to expand each picture.  When I printed these straight from the website, the circles were much smaller than I wanted.)

If you find any other great templates let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

## Snacktime Numbers and Letters

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

In lieu of Christmas soon arriving, I thought I would introduce/reintroduce some of the great homemade toys that we have around our house.  Homemade toys are perfect for little ones!  Why spend tons of money on things you can make easily?

Remember this Homemade Geoboard post?  J still enjoys it today.  I recently put one together for his older cousin and included some example patterns with the board.  I took example photos of shapes, patterns, letters, numbers and pictures on the geoboard for him to replicate.  For even older ones, you could simply include a list of things to create and leave off the pictures.  That would add a level of difficulty.

## Matching Craft with Jack-O-Lanterns

These pumpkins were fun to make and they incorporated a few new shapes and lots of matching practice for J.

Prior to this activity, you need to have a selection of eyes (each pair a different shape), nose (shapes to match the eyes) and mouths cut out.

**There aren’t noses on this example b/c I wasn’t intending to include noses at first.

I first had J paint a bunch of plates orange with a small green stem at the top of each one.  We made eight different plates so I did help paint some of them.  I think he focused on 3 while I did the rest.  You could  just print off some pumpkin clip art online instead of painting (but then you’d miss some of the fun!).

The next day when the plates were dry, I set out the collection of mouths to choose from and J glued one mouth on each plate.  We focused on location, the mouth is at the bottom of the face and he tried to glue in in the appropriate spot on each plate.  I then set out the eye choices, mixing up all the different shapes and he had to match the shapes to create each pair of eyes.  I was intending to stop here, thinking the activity was long enough already, but J insisted they needed noses.  So I quickly prepped some noses and he matched them to the correct plate.

We strung the string through each plate and hung them on our door.  J was quite proud!

Age attempted: 30 months

## Number of the day is two

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.

## Sticker Activity on the Plane (or at home!)

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