Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alphabet Match - Learning Letters Activity

Here is another simple introduction to the alphabet. I used my sons magna doodle and magnetic letters that came with a book to create another letter match activity. I started out basic, as shown above, by having him match only three letters at a time. Eventually, he will be able to complete the whole alphabet as he gets more familiar with saying and seeing each letter. 

Sometimes using different items in a new way will lead to a great activity to set up at home. This cost me no extra money and it is a wonderful go-to activity for my son who is starting to learn and say letters.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Close Up
As I mentioned in the February Valentine's Day sensory bin post, my goal this year is to introduce my son to holidays and special occasions that we celebrate as a family. This St. Patrick's Day themed sensory bin was perfect to create for the month of March. I had so much fun making this bin for my son. I purchased all of the items in the bin from the dollar store. Here is what I included in this bin:

dry bean mix, foam shamrocks, gold tinsel, plastic shamrock necklace cut into pieces, rainbow pom pom mix, green cups to scoop and pour, colorful sequin mix

It is always so exciting to watch my son explore new sensory bins. Providing him with rich sensory experiences to manipulate in his own way makes these bins so much fun!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ocean Sensory Bin Play

Recently, my son has shown a huge interest in the ocean and creatures that live in the ocean. I decided to make him a new ocean sensory bin. I purchased all of the materials that I included in the bin from the dollar store.

Here is what I included:
clear water beads, colorful glass beads, colorful sequin mix, glow in the dark ocean creature mix, one large shell to scoop and pour with (I made sure there were no sharp edges)

My son loves the feel of the water beads in his hands. He also likes when I go through and name all of the creatures in the bin. Instead of including a cup, I showed my son how to scoop and pour with the shell. This sensory bin would work wonderfully on a light table as well.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

DIY Alphabet Learning Activity

Here is a great activity for young children that are beginning to recognize and name letters. I created this alphabet activity today for my son by upcycling a plastic apple container, attaching alphabet stickers, and using a box of Melissa & Doug letters. It was so easy to create!
One way to use this activity with children is to have them match the lowercase letters to the lowercase letter sticker. There were two spots left in the container so I filled it will the letters for my son to pick from as he completed the activity with me.
A second way to use this activity is to match the uppercase letters to the lowercase letter stickers. A third way is to match both uppercase and lowercase letters into the correct letter sticker spot.
This is an easy activity to keep on the shelf folded together with the letters inside for anytime my son wants to play with it. I happened to have alphabet stickers and the Melissa & Doug letters around the house so this fantastic learning activity cost me no extra money to create. I love the idea of upcycling something as simple as an apple container and watching my son gain such valuable learning experiences from it!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Toddler Bottle Cap Activity

I'm always trying to figure out what kind of activity I can create for my son with any large box I have saved at home. I also save caps from bottles and containers. I decided to use them along with a large coffee box I had saved to create a toddler bottle cap drop activity. The result was a great fine motor toddler activity that I modified for my son as he grew older.

The first way I used this box was with one size of caps. I cut an opening in the box that was the same size of the caps and he simply pushed the caps into the slot. He loved watching and listening to the caps drop into the box. When this seemed to get too easy for my son, I created a second way to play with the box. I used bottle and container caps of different sizes and added more openings to the box. My son had a great time figuring out which caps fit correctly into each slot. This was an easy activity that cost no extra money to create. It is amazing how often I find that trash can easily be turned into treasured play experiences as shown in the two pictures above.


What Children Need Most...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

DIY Toddler Velcro Puzzle

This was one of the first "toys" I ever made for my son. When he was just a year old, I wanted to create something for him to experience the pull and sound of Velcro. I came up with this puzzle. I found all of the items to make the puzzle at Michaels craft store. The puzzle pieces I chose to use are large, soft foam stamps. I simply attached Velcro to the back of each stamp and onto a lightweight cookie sheet. I traced an outline of each stamp onto the cookie sheet with permanent marker so that my son could figure out where each piece fits just like a puzzle.

I can remember my son bringing me this puzzle over and over to play with daily. To this day, he still shows interest in playing with this puzzle. He just loves how the pieces attach and how they sound when they are detached from the cookie sheet. I found that the size of the large and lightweight foam shapes were perfect for his little hands.

This was a fun project to create. Of course, you could easily buy a puzzle, but I find that nothing compares to creating a special one-of-a-kind toy for your child to enjoy. It is so special and rewarding for me to see my son having a great time playing with something I created just for him.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy & Inexpensive DIY Fine Motor Toddler Activity - Edible Too!

I created this fine motor activity for my son with play-doh and pipe cleaners. My son loves fruit loops so I figured it would be fun for him to snack as he practiced his fine motor skills. He was immediately drawn to this colorful activity and wanted to give it a try.

Stringing fruit loops onto pipe cleaners is no easy task for little hands. It involves a high level of concentration and practice. Still, my son had a great time trying his best! This activity was so simple, quick, and inexpensive to create. An extension to this activity could be counting to ten as your child strings fruit loops onto the pipe cleaners. Another idea is to make patterns with fruit loops colors. Have fun!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Count & Match Number Activity

I have been showing my son these number flash cards for a couple of weeks. I found the inexpensive pack at CVS in the toy section. My son seemed to really enjoy pointing out each group of pictures when I asked him where they were on the cards. For example, I would say, "Where are the eight triangles?" and he would point or hand me the correct card. The other day when I went to Stop N Shop, I spotted these great, colorful magnetic numbers and decided to create a basic count and match number activity for my son. Although most of this activity was guided because he is still learning to recognize numbers, my son seemed to really enjoy this activity today. He even wanted to complete the activity a couple of times in a row.

Here he is in action:

Complete! He was so proud of himself!

I'm confident that as my son keeps on doing this activity with my guidance, he will start to eventually recognize the numbers in the bowl on his own. This was another inexpensive learning activity that was so easy to create. I just love praising him when he completes any activity and seeing the sense of accomplishment and pride that he gains. Being involved in learning can be so much fun for toddlers!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Upcycled Play Ideas

If anyone asks me what my sons favorite toy is, I would say that it has to be his wooden ramp. He has spent hours and hours rolling every car, truck, and motorcycle that we own down it. Where did we get the ramp? It was a left over piece of wood sitting in Grandpa's garage. It was sanded down to avoid splinters. This ramp has provided daily excitement for my son for many, many months for the cost of nothing.

Here are some more pictures of the ramp set up in our home:

My son has learned how to place items so that they are balanced and roll down the center of the board. He enjoys watching each item roll down the ramp one by one.

Other upcycled play items we use ALL of the time are different sized cardboard tubes. If you cannot find a large tube, you can simply use the tube from a wrapping paper roll or a paper towel roll. My son absolutely loves rolling balls, small cars, and pom poms through the tubes. See photos:

Through play so much can be learned. The picture below shows my son using trial and error to figure out which cars will fit through the tube. He has fun trying to figure this out. It is a great activity:

These toys have been a great way to keep my son engaged and entertained during the recent blizzard. With over two feet of snow outside, he has been occupied for no extra cost. Upcycling can lead to so many exciting and creative play activities. 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Make & Match Shape Activity- Cost: $2

For the cost of only $2, my son and I had a great afternoon creating and matching shapes together. I purchased a box of flash cards at Michael's craft store for $1 and a bag of colorful, and very soft, pipe cleaners at the dollar store for $1. I took out the flash cards and lined them up first. Second, I created shapes one by one with the pipe cleaners as my son looked on. (Older children can try creating shapes by themselves.) Finally, I set up the activity and my son had a great time matching the shapes to the card. He was so proud of himself when he was finished. See photos:

Complete! So proud of himself:

The final result:

This is just another example of an inexpensive learning activity that is so simple to create. As we continue with this activity, I will try to get my son to say the names of each shape too. Have fun creating!