I taught a workshop last week at my son’s school on work time activities. While I claim to be no “expert” in this area, I’ve received several years of teaching, sessions, and done lots of reading on the subject. I shared 10 activities we do here at home with the parents and teachers that we do often. All these activities were created with either recyclable materials or dollar store finds as to be very affordable to make. I hope you enjoy!
The activities in this list are budget –friendly with most items being able to be found in the recycling bin and/or at the dollar store. They are also small in size and can travel well to a nearby park or on a long car ride.
1. Bean Bag Toss
This is a fun kid-friendly game of corn hole. It also encourages hand-eye coordination.
-Bean Bags OR Make Your Own
*To Make Your own, you can use Ziploc Bags (Freezer bags for extra durability) and Rice or Beans
2. Pipe Cleaner Stuff
This is a good fine motor skills activity for toddlers. They work on hand-eye coordination by sorting the pipe cleaners into holes. This can also be used to count and name colors.
-Cylinder style container (Such as Pringles container or Puffs Container)
-Hole Punch to punch holes
3. Pom Pom Stuff
Great for fine motor skills, this can also be used to teach colors and numbers.
-Colorful Pom Poms
4. Cup Sort
This helps children to recognize “like” objects or similar shapes.
-Cups (reuseable or disposable)
-Small, like objects and/or pictures of objects
5. Color Matching with Paint Swatches
Encourage little ones to match colors by placing the stickers on the coordinating color cards.
-Free Paint Swatches from your Local Hardware Store
6. Travel Felt Board
-Piece of Felt
-Felt shapes or Paper Shapes*
-Velcro squares (Optional)
*Paper shapes will not adhere to the felt board unless you attach Velcro squares to them
7. Ping Pong Toss
-Ping Pong Balls
For this activity, I attached my egg carton to a small cardboard tray/lid using some glue so that both sides of the egg carton would lay flat. This is optional.
8. Create a Face with Plates
This encourages your child to explore emotions as well as gives them a funny face to play with. Encourage your child to cut out various noses, mouths, and sets of eyes so that they can build their own face. You can then talk about how or expressions change during different moods.
9. Word Scramble
Using inexpensive letters, practice word recognition in the form of a toddler-friendly Scrabble game. The Dollar Store carries magnetic letters that are friendly for small hands or you can repurpose an old Scrabble game!
-Letters (magnetic letters, scrabble letters, chipboard letters)
10. Puppet Show
Kids can put on a very inexpensive puppet show with just a few simple supplies! With some imagination and cutting, foam sheets are a sturdy way to create a variety of puppets that children can use to create plays. If you want to go the extra mile, the cardboard presentation boards make an excellent and inexpensive stage!
-Tri-fold Presentation board (Optional)*
*To make a stage with the tri-fold board, cut a medium size hole out of the middle of the board. It’s freestanding and can be decorated to suit their taste.
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