Archive of ‘Fine Motor’ category

Attribute Apple Sorting for Toddlers

Attributes are an important part of math in elementary school, so when I saw these Learning Resources Attribute Apples
the teacher in me was jumping up and down. Not only would they be fantastic for a variety of activities for Peanut while she was little, we could continue to use them for years to come!

Attribute Apples Color Sorting for Toddlers | Eat Clean Play Hard

Supplies:
Learning Resources Attribute Apples
Or, if you don’t want to buy the attribute apples you can use real apples in 3 different colors

There are three colors of apples in the Attribute Apples, which is what we focused on for our activity. And conveniently, the box for the apples is divided into three compartments to sort the apples. I dumped the apples out on the floor and let Peanut explore them for a few minutes. We talked about what they were, she pretended to eat them and we talked about how yummy they were. Then, I pointed out their colors and stuck one apple of each color in a compartment, naming the color as I did so. Then, I picked up an apple and asked Peanut where it went. She happened to place the apple in the correct compartment, so I got all excited.

Attribute Apples | Eat Clean Play HardShe didn’t get all the apples in the right place and I tried to help point here in the right direction when I saw she was going to make an incorrect choice. We haven’t done much color sorting yet, so I knew this would be a challenge for her. I really want to work on more color sorting as we work towards learning our colors.

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Remembering she’s only 19 months old, I only had her work on sorting for a few minutes (less than 10!) and then let her play, putting the apples where she please and dumping the container over and over. I really do like the Attribute Apples. They’re plastic and will be great for several activities, durable, and super fun!

What was said while we played: 
“There are three different colors.”
“That apple is red.”
“What color is this apple?”
“Where does this apple go?”
“Are apples yummy?”
“Oops, does that apple look like the others?”

Basting Water Fine Motor Activity

Using a baster is a great way for little ones to build hand strength, plus they love them!

Basting Water Fine Motor Activities for toddlers

Supplies:

  • 2 bowls or plastic containers 
  • A kitchen baster

Had it not felt like 104 degrees outside, we might have taken this activity outside. Since it was way too hot to sit outside if you weren’t in a pool, I laid out the messy mat table cloth and set up the bowls. I simply filled one bowl about half way with water and set out an empty one.

Basting Water Fine Motor Activities for toddlers

I had Peanut come over and sit down next to the containers. I showed her the baster and then helped her squeeze the water into the baster and into the empty bowl. Then I let her do her thing. Basters are hard for little hands to squeeze, but she was trying so hard. She’d get a little bit in and try to put it in the other bowl. I could see her little muscles working and I loved it.

Basting Water Fine Motor Activities for toddlers

After a while she just started mixing the water with the bulb and then switching it over to the open end and mixing for a while.

What we talked about:
“This is a baster. Mommy uses it for cooking, but you’re going to play with it today.”
“That is water.”
“Squeeze it like this.”
“It’s hard to squeeze, isn’t it?”
“Good, you got the water in the other bowl!”

This activity was simple and easy to set up, but a great workout for those fine motor muscles!

DIY Easy Book Page Puzzles

Identifying things that go together is a great skill for toddlers to work on. Using pictures they’re familiar with, such as simple illustrations from their favorite book can make this task easier, since they already know what the image looks like.

DIY Easy Book Page Puzzles

Supplies:

  • Printer
  • White card stock
  • Your child’s favorite book with simple illustrations, such as Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle
  • Optional: Laminating machine

Ahead of time, print and cut out your pictures and cut them in half. Young toddlers don’t need the complication of having a lot of pieces. However, if you were doing this for an older child, you could cut them in to different pieces or even shapes. I was able to find Brown Bear Brown Bear pictures online at 1plus1plus1equals1.com, so I didn’t even have to take the time to scan the pictures, just print them right out. Also, if you happen to have a laminator, I would highly recommend laminating your pieces. Peanut had half of our pictures scrunched up by the end of the activity and I had wished I laminated the pieces.

DIY Easy Book Page Puzzles

To start, I spread all of the pictures out on the floor so Peanut could see all the pictures. Then, I asked her to find the puppy, which I knew she’d be able to identify. When she found the puppy head I I asked, “Where’s the rest of the puppy?” Then, I helped her find the back of the dog and put the picture together.

Then, we continued with the other animals. Sometimes Peanut would identify an animal on her own and then we’d hunt for the rest of the picture and sometimes I would have to point out a picture, name the animal, and help her find the rest of the picture. If Peanut was having trouble finding the pictures that matched, I’d help her out by picking up a few different pieces and asking her if it was the rest of the animal we were looking for. Obviously she wouldn’t get it right every time, but she would get really excited and scream, “Yeah!” when we realized a picture was what we were really looking for. Then she’d grab the piece from me and try to  put the pictures together (which is where a lot of our scrunched up pieces came from).

DIY Easy Book Page Puzzles

As we built the pictures, I set them aside completed in a long row so we could see all of the work we’d done. When we were done I also asked Peanut what each animal was and the sound it made. Peanut had a lot of fun and even when I thought she was done she wanted to play with the pieces more.

Vocabulary used in play:
“This is a puzzle!”
“Which animal is this?”
“What sound does the (dog, cat, horse, etc.) make?”
“Does that look like the right picture to go with this one?”
“Where’s the rest of the (dog, cat, horse, etc.)?”
“Do these go together?”
“That looks silly, I don’t think that’s the right picture.”
“That looks like a dog, I think we found the right picture!”
“What an awesome job your doing of looking for the right picture! You’re working so hard!”

Had a laminated the pieces, I would have put them in a plastic bag and kept them as a busy bag activity for when I needed something to keep Peanut occupied without my help.

Powdered Paint Splash Art

Playing in water is a toddler favorite. This process art project is a great way to let your kiddo play in the water while making beautiful art!

Powdered Paint Splash Art

When I set out to find my materials for this activity I got even more excited about giving it a try. I found a line of all natural paints from Glob Colors that I had to get. I placed my order, got my paint, and was ripping into the package while Peanut was down for nap so I could see what it was all about. They smelled delicious, so I couldn’t wait for Peanut to create some art!

Powered Paint Splash Art

Supplies:

Powered Paint Splash Art

I tried this activity two ways with Peanut. The first go around I put a bit of powder in her hand and let her drop it on the paper. I gave her a bit of each color and she flopped down, sometimes spreading it around with her fingers. I made sure she smelled each one, since the Glob paints have some yummy natural smells to them. When she had a bit of each color on her page, I gave her some water and showed her how to drip a bit onto the paper, making the powder turn to paint. She spread the water around a bit, too from time to time, mixing some of the colors together.

Powered Paint Splash Art

The outcome was awesome! It was such a pretty piece of art, especially for toddler process art! Usually I let Peanut create until she feels as though she’s done, but it was so pretty I picked up the paper after she started getting crazy with the water so I could keep the picture. It was way too good to let her ruin it! :)

Powered Paint Splash Art

The next time around, I put the paints in separate containers and showed Peanut how to put a pinch of paint on her paper. She did the same sort of thing; she dropped paint on her paper and spread it around a bit. I did only offer one color at a time since our paints were new (and a bit expensive!) and I didn’t want them mixed up into one crazy color just yet. Once she had a good amount of color on her page, I handed her the water again and let her create until she threatened to ruin her beautiful work.

Powered Paint Splash Art

The second turned out just as good as the first! I’d say having the colors in seperate containers felt a bit more organized and a bit more like Peanut was doing more of the work, but either way works fine.

Vocabulary used in play:
“Open your hand.”
“Hold your palm flat.”
“Sprinkle it on the paper.”
“Take a pinch.”
“Rub it around.”
“Splash the paper.”
“It’s so beautiful!”

I can’t wait to do more with these paints and plan on ordering more of Glob’s products to try out! Not only did they create a great picture, I didn’t have to worry about Peanut messing with nasty chemicals in her art experience. I highly recommend ordering these exact paints for the project!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Simplifying this favorite activity for younger children is a great way to get a toddler-approved activity outside!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Supplies:
Paper
Crayons

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

I took our bucket of crayons outside with a few sheets of paper and put the paper on the cement. I asked Peanut if she wanted to color and she was more than happy to join me. First we colored on the concrete. Then we moved to the stair, which has some larger bumps. Then we moved to her picnic table and finally the grass.

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Peanut always took a minute to figure out why I wanted her to color in these strange places and lingered at the picnic table the longest. And she honestly spent more time dumping the crayons out of their bucket and putting them back in than she did coloring. But, she got the experience and that’s all that matters!

Vocabulary used in play: 
Crayon
Bucket
Paper
“That’s really rough when you color on it, isn’t it?”
“This surface is really bumpy!”
“The table is smooth to color on.”
“The grass is squishy, it’s hard to color on.”
“The rug is soft.”
“The bucket is loud when you drop it!”

This one is so easy and highly engaging! Get out there (in the morning before it gets too hot!) and try this one!

Paper Ball Toss for Toddlers

Paper Ball Toss for Toddlers

Peanut loves to get into everything, especially any paper she can get her hands on. She loves to rip apart old magazines or open junk mail. Providing different experiences with paper keeps simple, independent activities fresh and new for toddlers. This activity would be great when you’re busy cooking or tending to something and your toddler needs to be busy!

Supplies:
Scrap paper of any type

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Sometimes the simplest of activities can offer the most fun. This is one of those activities that doesn’t require any set up at all! I keep a collection of scrap paper in a drawer in the dining room, so all I had to do was grab some paper and toss it on the floor to prepare for this activity.

Paper toss for toddlers

Peanut was excited as soon as I tossed the paper down, but the first thing that came to mind was coloring. When I picked up a piece of paper and crumpled it up she got a huge grin on her face and picked up a piece to try it herself. Then I threw the paper and she started stomping her feet in excitement and followed my lead. She followed my lead for a while, picking up a piece of paper and crumpling it up as soon as I grabbed a new piece. She’d chase paper balls down, toss them for the dog to get (who had no desire to play with them), bring them to me, she even pushed one around in her baby stroller for a while.

Paper toss for toddlers

I was able to get up and work on dishes while she continued to play with the crumpled piece of paper by her self. She did occasionally bring one to me, but I’d toss it away for her to get and she’d be off again.

This activity is fun, but it also serves some important developmental skills as well. Making the paper into balls increases a little one’s hand strength and fine motor development, while all that tossing and running develops gross motor skills. Everyone loves an activity that works on both at the same time! Be sure you’re using pieces of paper that are large enough to make a ball that can’t be choked on if your toddler decides they want to get a taste of the ball!

Vocabulary:
Crumple
Paper
Throw
Toss
Pick up

Golf Tee and Styrofoam Floral Block Play

Golf Tee and Styrofoam Fine Motor ActivityThis activity ended up being a good independent activity for Peanut, who has almost completely stopped putting things in her mouth. I needed something to keep her occupied while I dusted and this worked great for us!

Golf Tee and Styrofoam Fine Motor Play

Supplies:
1 green floral styrofoam block
A handful of new golf tees

Set up doesn’t get much easier than this: set the block and the tees out for your little one. Peanut didn’t even need an explanation, she just ran over and started sticking golf tees in the block. Then I was set to go! I kept a close eye on her incase she tried to stick any of the styrofoam that was breaking off in her mouth, but she really started only sticking food or kitchen toys in her mouth. If your kiddo is still sticking everything in their mouth, I’d suggest staying close by for this activity.

Golf Tee and Styrofoam Fine Motor Play

Peanut worked hard and getting golf tees in and out of the block. She tried sticking them in both ways and explored what happened when she just laid the tee on top of the block. Eventually she discovered she could break chunks of styrofoam off by sticking the golf tee close to the edge of the block. Then she just started digging in with her fingers.

By the end, our block was looking rather pathetic, but Peanut was entertained! My words of warning for this activity are: play on a hard surface where you can easily pick up chunks of styrofoam and keep pets outside or in another room!

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage

stickybackyardhunt

I thought it was time to break out the Contact Paper again and create some more art. This time I wanted to get Peanut outside while she was creating and have her use nature to make her masterpiece.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

Supplies:
Contact-Paper
Your back Yard
(Optional) Duct Tape

Before we headed outside, I cut a rectangular piece of construction paper and stripped it of it’s backing. It was a pretty windy day, so I started the activity with some toys holding the contact paper down, but as Peanut carried them away a short while later, we didn’t really even need it anyway.

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I took Peanut out into the yard and found a leaf on the ground and pointed it out to her. I helped her pick it up and we took it back to our Contact Paper waiting on the patio for us. I showed her how to stick it down and press it onto the paper. Then I asked her if she wanted to put more on her picture and she took off to find something else. I could tell she was looking for something, but I really had to help her pick out things she could pick up and use on her collage. I’d point them out, she’d pick them up, and I’d direct her back to her collage on the patio. Usually she just threw the treasure down and started to walk away again, so I would remind her to come back and push it down.

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Her favorite thing to add to the collage was flowers she was able to pick fresh off the plant. She went back several times to get more flowers, repeating “flowers!” all the way there and back.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

She didn’t get tons on her collage before she was done and wanted to get in the sand box…but I think it’s beautiful! I added another sheet of contact paper to the back when we got inside and had to reinforce the edges with duct tape because of the rather large stick she added. When it was complete, I had her help me hang it on the fridge where she could look at it. To my surprise, when Daddy got home that night she ran right over to get it off the fridge and show him. :)

Vocabulary we used while playing:
Outside
Sticky
Leaf
Stick
Flower
brown
Yellow
Green
White

 

Sandbox Play with Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play for Toddlers

Peanut loves to watch me cook in the kitchen. I know she wants to help so badly, but there aren’t a lot of tasks she can do yet to really get her helping. I wanted to create a play activity where she could explore some of the utensils she saw me using in the kitchen. Combining her love for the sandbox and some old kitchen utensils made an activity she didn’t want to give up.

Supplies:
A variety of old (toddler-friendly) kitchen utensils or grab some from the dollar store
A sandbox full of sand

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

When I collected my utensils, I tried to keep in mind what she’d be doing with the tools. I wanted thing she could use to dig, pour, sift, and manipulate the sand. I also wanted her to be able to use the tools as they were designed in the kitchen, as though she was cooking. Peanut ended up with a sugar shaker, measuring cup, wooden spoon, whisk, and ____________.

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

We came outside and I simply tossed the kitchen utensils in the sandbox and she was off and running. I named each item and showed her a brief model of how to use it if she wasn’t quite sure. Once she had the stuff figured out, she was done with me! She’s such an independent player! She dug and mixed and cooked until I decided it was too hot to stay out much longer. Then, I just tossed the kitchen utensils in her outdoor bucket to play with again later!

Tool Band for Toddlers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I had the idea for this activity when my parents were in town. My dad had Kennedy outside helping him with the garage sale while my mom and I were inside painting trim. I heard some ridiculously loud banging and shrieks of excitement outside and and to go investigate. That’s when I discovered Papa and Kennedy banging away on some extra tools we had for sale. I couldn’t believe how long I heard the commotion going on and couldn’t wait to play some music with her again.

Supplies:
A variety of relatively clean, toddler-safe tools such as sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I love wrench sets for this activity because they provide such a musical aspect to the play. With each increase in size, the sound it makes changes leaving your toddler crazily switching back and forth between wrenches to see what sound they make.

We did this activity inside today because it was getting too hot outside to stay out for very long. Really, it’s best done outside on concrete where the ground can help become part of the instruments. I wouldn’t do this activity on any hard flooring inside unless you want your next major project to be reflooring!
Be sure the tools aren’t too heavy for your kiddo so you don’t end up with any squished fingers…and be careful they’re not getting used as weapons!Since we were inside I had peanut banging all the tools together to make all kinds of fun sounds. She loved exploring the different sounds she could make. While she was outside with my dad the last time she played tool band, they were banging tools on the ground, dropping them, rolling them, and seeing how many different ways they could make sounds. It was so much fun! While you can still play inside, outside is just much better!

Vocabulary:
tool
band
music
loud
soft
drop
hit

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