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.
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**
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
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.
I think this would made a great homemade Christmas gift!
Posted in Age Range, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Homemade Toys, Math, Motor Skills, Patterns, Preschool (4-5 years), Rainy Day Activities, Shapes, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Homemade Toys, Motor Skills, Patterns, Shapes
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
Floor Shapes: We taped triangles up and down our kitchen floor. I got the first few started and then J helped me by decided if the triangle should be big or little and making sure I completed the triangle’s three sides. I repeated again and again that triangles have three sides and we counted as I placed each side down. This is my winter/rainy day version of sidewalk chalk. If you read my sidewalk chalk post, you’ll know that I like to have something out as a consistent reminder of our weekly lessons. Painter’s tape works well when we can’t get outside!
When the triangles were all completed, we traced them with our fingers, we walked and “jumped” across the triangle path, we drove cars around the sides of the triangles and we filled each triangle with one of his Matchbox cars (a good reminder for the number one).
Triangle Building Shapes – This is a simple activity and so easy to prepare. All I had to do was cut out a handful of foam triangles in different sizes and colors. I showed J how to lay the triangles next to each other to create pictures and designs (basically build with triangles instead of blocks). He mostly wanted to match the triangles (same size and color) which was perfectly fine with me. The point was to give him lots of visual reminders of a triangle and that was accomplished. You could do this activity with felt or even construction paper (and glue the shapes onto paper). I saw something similar in a learning store, but the shapes were magnetic. I loved that idea, but I was too cheap to buy them and didn’t have time to make them!
Stickers in Triangles – I gave J a piece of paper filled with triangles and had him place one sticker inside each triangle.
Age Attempted: 23 months (have done similar activities much younger… 18 months??)
Teachable Moments: inside/outside (with stickers and cars inside triangle); focus on triangles having 3 sides and 3 corners/points; what shapes can we create by placing triangles together?? (foam pieces)
Try Again? I resuse these activities often
Posted in Age Range, Concepts, Counting, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Inside and Outside, Math, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Shapes, Table Time, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Counting, Shapes
We’ve done a few crafts this way and I’ve found they work really well for toddlers. It requires simple shape matching and gluing.
First I cut out the pieces and traced the shapes into the desired shape on construction paper. In this case it was 3 circles (though hearts would probably make them look more like clovers… didn’t think about that until it was already done!) I did not trace the stem of the clover; we just added that last.
J helps match the shape cut-outs to the traced shapes on the paper. Using a Q-tip, he glues the shape in place.
This is J’s final product.
J has also made a flower and a sun using this same process (I’ll post those pictures later). I have planned some pictures where he has to match multiple shapes in one activity.
Age attempted: this particular one was at 23 months, the flower and sun were done around 19 months
Teachable Moments: I emphasize the shapes in the project, how to use glue (he uses the Q-tip to place a dab of glue inside the shapes)
Try Again? Similar activities, yes
Posted in Age Range, Arts and Crafts, Early Preschool (3-4 years), Early Toddler (18-24 months), Holidays and Seasons, Math, Pre-Toddler (12-18 months), Preschool (4-5 years), Shapes, St. Patrick's Day, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged matching, Shapes
I’m always looking for ways to incorporate our lesson of the day into any and all activities of the day. J is having a difficult time remembering the rectangle, maybe because it’s similar to the square?? So today I cut his apple into rectangles. I think every mom does this at some point. It’s a simple way to help them learn and a simple way to encourage them to eat. For some reason the apple-circles are much more fun to eat than just the apple slices!
What I found interesting was it was kinda fun for me too. I probably inhibited the purpose of my apple shapes because instead of keeping all the shapes rectangular, I started challenging myself to see what shapes I could create. J rather enjoyed watching Mommy attempt octagons and stars. The next night at dinner, we were having apples again and my husband got involved in our little game as well.
I wish I took pictures of all the shapes we sliced, but J was pretty hungry (and Mom and Dady were distracted with the challenge at hand!).
So if you haven’t already, take a stab at the apple.
Age Attempted: 22 months, yes it took me this long to make shapes with J’s snacks!
Teachable Moments: shapes, that Mommy can have fun with J’s activities too 🙂
Try Again? My next challenge will be carving cones.
**Edited to add – We made letters tonight! It was actually J’s idea and quite a challenge to go through the alphabet. 🙂
J is really into matching his toys. He is constantly finding ways to organize trains, tracks, blocks, beads,… We have these Melissa and Doug wooden lacing beads and I noticed J was constantly turning the wooden tray over so that he could match the colorful beads to the pictures on the tray. Unfortunately there were only a few pictures to match. So I decided to create a matching board that included all the beads. This was something I did quickly while J was playing nearby, so the final product certainly has mistakes! I just traced each bead and then added color to match each one. You could probably create a board like this using powerpoint that looks much more professional. J didn’t notice the mistakes at all. He loved the board and went straight to work.
Age attempted: 22 months
Teachable Moments: label the shapes and colors, recognize color patterns, number recognition
Try Again? Yes, I pull this matching board out maybe once a week
You obviously could create a matching board for lots of different toys your little one already owns. Letter blocks, stacking toys, flashcards, cars, trains, letter/number magnets, … I’m sure you can come up with lots of ideas. Please share your ideas!!
Posted in Age Range, Colors, Counting, Early Toddler (18-24 months), Games, Homemade Games, Math, Patterns, Shapes, Toddler (2-3 years)
Tagged Colors, Counting, Homemade Games, matching, Patterns, Shapes