Fine Motor Activities
I bought these pumpkins at the dollar store with every intention of decoupaging them and adding sparkle but my son vetoed that. I still wanted to make an easy Halloween craft so I quickly looked around the playroom for an idea. That’s when I saw the hammers on the floor, the buttons on the counter and I was pretty sure I had nails too. I am so glad I didn’t press for them to do my original idea, both kids had a lot of fun pinning, hammering as well as pressing the nails in and my upstairs hallway have two very adorable pumpkins in it now.
- Gather your materials. You will need a foam pumpkin ( at Dollar Tree right now) , some nails, craft buttons and some hammers.
- Place your buttons ( I held them for my daughter for the first nail) my son did his own.
- Place a nail in the button hole and press it just far enough to hold and then hammer!
- The hammer was ok but both kids also pushed the nails in with their fingers.
- Keep going making faces, or simple designs. My son added nails without any buttons for hair and my daughter methodically placed nails in each hole.
Check out these great Halloween picture books for kids.The craft buttons were provided for us by craftprojectideas.com.
Math is probably my son’s favorite subject right now and I am running with it. This monster math activity took 2 minutes to set up and could be used over and over . No need to buy anything other than paper and googly eyes! I like making simple tray activities like this that I can have ready for him at the table in the playroom to do after school. They are educational and appealing but not so long that he gets overwhelmed after a long day of school. As you will see my toddler demanded she get in on the action too, luckily this was easy to adapt to her level as well. For a fun variation check out how you can use dice for even more monster math over at Inner Child Learning.
- Gather your materials. You will need some bright paper, googly eyes, a pencil ( if you want to use the monsters more than once) , and scissors. I also had a small cup and cookie tray to keep everything contained.
- Start by folding your paper in half and cutting out the shape of a monster. Best part is that they can be detailed or a blob , not need for extraordinary artistic skills!
- Next write simple math equations on the monster. If your child isn’t up to equations yet just do numbers. You can also do shapes and have your child place the eyes on the shapes. I used markers for the photos but If you want to use this more than once you can use pencil, or laminate the monsters and use dry erase markers.
- All ready – now add a math wizard! He loves this . I love that while doing math he is also working on fine motor skills that he needs for writing.
- After he did addition we flipped it over and did some subtraction. He loved it too!
- ” I do it TOO!!!” To make it toddler friendly I only used the largest eyes, and wrote simple numbers on the monsters. My daughter still needed a little help as I thought she would but she was ecstatic to be doing big girl math with her big brother. All I know is she begged to do math. Let’s keep that spirit going right?
Check out our round up of monster books for some reading after your math!
This year when we came home from the county fair my son was the proud new owner of an archery set. After a few days of reminding my son not to point it at this or that I started looking for something to be a target he could shoot at to his heart content! This archery target craft was so easy to make and it’s been played with constantly and I haven’t had to remind him once to only shoot at the target because it’s all he wants to do .
- Gather your materials. You will need a suction cup archery set , some Styrofoam, duct tape, painter’s tape, a sponge roller or two, paint, a dish , hammer and nails. Oh and a tree or wall to nail it into.
- We started by cutting a square piece of Styrofoam and using the painter’s tape make 3-5 circles one inside the other. I was rushing to get this done before my daughter woke from her nap so I wasn’t at all careful but I loved how it turned out. Just make sure the tape is pressed down well. I placed it and my son pressed it.
- Next we picked the paint colors and painted. This is Martha Stewart craft paint and works on every surface- which is rad but it’s NOT at all washable so wear old clothes. The upside is that it’s also great for outdoors. Our target has been outside since we made it and it looks as good as new.
- We peeled the tape off .
- Added some duct tape at the top . I did this so that while nailing it the nails wouldn’t push right through.
- I nailed the first one in just enough to make it hold and let him go for it.
- Next it was time to try it out! Since making the target he pops outside almost everyday for target practice while his sister and I cheer. I love how it’s helped him deal with disappointment and frustration. When he first started playing with it he’d get really frustrated when he didn’t get a bulls-eye but now he can miss the target completely and let it roll off his back and try again.
Learning the alphabet comes in many forms. Our Alphabet For Starters series is all about playing with letters in a creative environment and this letter activity was a huge hit! There are lots of ways of changing it around for different levels too so don’t miss my notes after the tutorial if you want to do this with children who aren’t just starting out with letters. This may seem like a simple letter activity and it is but it’s sneaky too. Little fingers have to peel the apples off giving their fine motor skills some serious work.
- Gather your materials. This picture is incomplete because I shifted my plan part way through and so glad I did, the final result was a blast! You will need some craft paper or paper bag, brown paint, paint brush, marker, scissors, contact paper, and green, yellow and red paper . A basket is not a must but if you have one grab it.
- Start by cutting a truck from craft paper or a paper bag. I taped it down because my daughter is exuberant with paint ( you’ll see) and this helps keep it all in one place.
- Paint with a brush…
- Or your hands. You really don’t need to have your child(ren) help make the tree but when kids help make the activity there is a deeper connection to the learning.
- While that is drying and you are done washing the gallons of paint off your toddler make some apples from red and yellow paper.
- Add letters.
- Once it’s dry tape the trunk to the wall . Add tape to the back of green paper and add it to the tree.
- Cover the top of the tree with contact paper sticky side OUT.
- Add the apples.
- Make sure that you are leaving a corner of the apple off to peel off.
- Basket in hand and ready to pick her apples!
- She really had a great time and got excited to announce which apples she was picking. As always she chose the first letter of her name first followed by the mine, her brother’s and her dad’s. It’s exciting to see that she connects letters to people meanings outside of the immediate activity. As soon as we were done she bolted from the playroom full basket in hand to show her dad all her letter apples. I would have taken a shot of his but he was sorting laundry and well my literal dirty laundry has no place on the internet .
How to take it to the next step :
- Have a chart of lowercase letters and have your child peel off the uppercase apples to match the lowercase letters.
- Use sight words instead of letters. Call out the sight word and have your child find , peel and pop them in the basket.
“A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald is an adaptation of the classic Edward Lear poem that had both my children transfixed. The bold bright colors kept my daughter who is 10 months old wide eyed the whole time and the playful way Suse MacDonald adapted the text had my son listening from A-Z as well. It was incredibly fun to read allowed tongue tying me at times which resulted in us all giggling hysterically in a heap. A book that can do that is a must have in my opinion.
This activity came about because my son was in trouble and had to clean his room before he was allowed to do anything else! While cleaning his usually Lego littered room we found these melty bead pegboards and I knew immediately what we were going to do with them. These pegboard rubbings are as simple as it gets but actually packed with learning and lessons that focus not only on concrete physical skills but also on patience and caution. For my toddler who loved the feel of the boards and sound of the crayon rubbing over them it was a great sensory activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need some plain paper, melty bead pegboards, crayons and painter’s tape.
- Start by occupying your toddler if they are with you , which if yours is like mine they are always with you or on you. I grabbed a basket and threw in some animals. I asked her to take them all out , then put them all back in. It took her just the right amount of time for me and her brother to do the next 3 steps.
- Peel the crayons. If you are doing this craft with a child who can’t peel them yet do this before you invite them to create. If they can do it, please make them do at least half. It’s wonderful fine motor development and patience.
- Next flip the boards over and add painters tape. This will keep them in place while rubbing. Nothing wrecks learning or creativity than something going haywire like a pegboard sliding out from under paper. This will prevent that.
- Add the boards to the table. Explore the texture of them.
- Place the paper over the boards and using the side of the crayon rub. My son started with the crayon angled and going way too fast.
- Soon he discovered that if he went slowly and made sure that the crayon was horizontal that it worked much better. For a little guy discovering that slow and steady is better than getting done fast and first is a big deal.
- Next add more colors if you want.
- For my toddler I pulled her onto my lap and we did it together. She was not coordinated enough to hold the paper and rub at the same time. By being on my lap it let me hold the paper tightly and help her with the crayon too. She loved the sound .
Books About Shapes
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute book that not only helps teach shapes it is also entertaining! The three crafty mice use the shapes to protect themselves from one hungry cat finally using them to make scary mice to frighten the cat away! Kids love to help find which shapes are used in the illustrations and older ones can even anticipate what the mice will make next!
Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland will delight you and your dinosaur fan. The book is geared towards toddlers and young preschoolers who are still mastering finding basic shapes. A shape is displayed on one side of the page and then those silly dinosaurs are playing with it on the other. My son loves dinosaurs so even though he’s known these shapes for ages it’s an enjoyable book with fun text and adorable illustrations by Henrietta Stickland.This post contains affiliate links