Archive of ‘No set up’ 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

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.


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


  • 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!

Hula-Hoop Ball Roll For Toddlers

What toddler doesn’t love balls? I think “ball” was one of the first 5 words Peanut and all her friends said. They’re just so much fun! This activity incorporates a hula-hoop to trap the balls in and work on refining those gross motor skills.

Hula Hoop Ball Roll For Toddlers


  • A variety of balls, various colors, sizes, textures, and bounciness
  • A hula-hoop

By tossing the balls in the center of the hula-hoop I tried to create a barrier for them that Peanut could attempt to keep the balls in. I knew this was going to be a challenging task, since she’d probably run right up to the hoop and try to fling all the balls around as hard as she cool….which is exactly what she did.

Hula-Hoop Ball Roll for Toddlers

So, I had her chase down the runaway balls and bring them back in the hoop. Then I modeled a gentle roll for her and showed her how it stayed in the hoop. She tried, with a bit too much gusto and the ball still escaped. But, we continued to work on it and eventually she was able to keep the ball she rolled in the hoop sometimes. She liked aiming for other balls and making all of the balls move around in the hoop at once and she also enjoyed chasing the runaways down, claiming they were “crazy!” with big giggle. Peanut also liked picking up the hoop and shaking it around to make the balls move.

We switched out what balls were in the hoop from time to time to see how they acted differently when she rolled them and the balls ran into each other. Some proved impossible to keep in the hoop (even for me!) and some were so bouncy they’d hop right over all the other balls and out of the hoop. Changing the balls out little by little allowed this activity to keep Peanut engaged longer than simply throwing all of the balls in at the same time. Different combinations made for different kinds of fun!

What we talked about in play: 
“There are a lot of balls in the hoop!”
“What color is that one? It’s blue.”
“The red one got away! Go get it and bring it back!”
“Gently roll the ball, like this.”
“That was a nice roll.”
“Look at all the balls rolling around in there!”
“That was a crazy toss!”

This was a simple activity that worked at hand-eye coordination, gross motor for the whole body, and our colors all along the way!

P.S. I also learned, with quick moving activities like this I should use my DSLR instead of my iPhone….all my pictures came out blurry so I don’t have many to share with you, sorry!

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


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: 
“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!

Scrap paper of any type


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!

Pick up

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