We have been re-visiting lots of our favourite toddler and preschooler play ideas from years gone by now that my fourth child has turned 3! So often in the early days of multiple-kids-at-home-chaos I would raid the kitchen cupboards for everyday objects to turn into game (and, let’s face it, distraction tools!) to keep the kids engaged and to let me drink my coffee for 5 minutes.
[Jump to our list of 20 Activities for Toddlers here for more ideas!]
Time and again the things that would capture their attention the most were the everyday tools that surrounded us, instead of the noisy single function toys that did nothing but add piles of clutter. This isn’t surprising given the fact that children learn best by copying the adults around them, and are most fascinated by real objects for exploration and play, even as young as 6 months onwards. You can read my post here explaining in much more detail about HEURISTIC PLAY (aka play with real objects) and see what to offer babies and toddlers as a first foray into this way of playing.
So for Mr 3 this week we pulled out our old friends the muffin tin and ball pit balls, and I added his absolute favourite gadget the TONGS, to spice up the play and add the bonus of some fine motor practice too!
You can watch the (super cute!) video and playing demo video here (please, please would you hop over and subscribe to my teeny tiny YouTube channel while you’re there too?) or you can read below how to set this up. It’s so easy!
[amazon affiliate links]
First, find a deep, 12 hole muffin tin. Then scrabble through drawers, the shed and under sofas to find as many ball pit balls as you can. I wanted to arrange mine in four rows of three so I needed four different colours to do that. For babies I would use a random selection and skip the colour matching aspect. For older preschoolers you could even draw on numbers or letters too for an added bonus.
Draw around a small circular object onto coloured papers that correspond to the balls, then cut them out and place in the bottom of the muffin tin holes. Set the balls next to them in a tray or bowl ready to go.
Then decide if you want to add large tongs as well for an extra challenge. You could try just hands first then see if you can progress to these after.
Then set them out as an invitation to play and let them have a go!
Mr 3 immediately wanted to use the tongs as they’re this favourite and he managed the transfer well. He then placed them all back one by one and repeated it a few times, deliberately mixing up the colours later on to see if he could trick me to see which were in the wrong place!
This is such a simple activity but it actually practises many early learning skills such as:
fine motor development
1:1 correspondence (the fact that one ball belongs in one space)
simple sorting and matching by colour
We have MANY simple, fun and engaging toddler and preschooler activities like this in our archives. Enough to let you drink your hot cup of coffee for a month or more! Click here to read TODDLER PLAY ideas and pin your favs too.
And if it’s FINE MOTOR SKILLS ACTIVITIES you’re looking for then this post has 40 to get you started.
[This post contains some Amazon affiliate links to help you find products that I love and recommend easily. Thanks!]