Pack and unpack

Elly asked to open the new packet of toothpaste we bought today. Then he spent a good 10 minutes practising his hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill (taking the tubes out of the boxes and putting them back in).

It doesn’t have to be toothpaste – and it shouldn’t be if your toddler is likely to open and eat any. Anything that comes in a cardboard box and can be handled easily would do. And there you have a nicely filled in time gap, or a quick few minutes to get something done.

Simple.

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Clothes peg play

This is one for the little people: a short, simple activity that gets them practicing their fine motor skills, pincer grip and hand-eye coordination. It’s mess free and can easily be left out for them to find and play with at will across the span of a day.

You need:
1. Clothes pegs (ones that can be worked by little fingers easily enough to ward off frustration caused by them being too hard to press open)
2. Something to pin them on (we used a colander, a cardboard box or similar would work just as well)

Elly had as much fun taking the pegs off the colander and putting them in and out of it as he did pegging them around it in the first place.

Wet chalk drawings

This is great as an outdoor activity if you have paved paths or a patio in the garden, but can also be done indoors on tiled floors, walls or even on paper. All you need to do is throw some chalk sticks into water – the chunkier the better, and we use washed out yogurt pots.

The wet chalk draws much more silkily than if it is dry making it a completely different art process, and it is easily washed away after. Outside the clean up should be minimal to non-existent, and even inside (assuming there aren’t any major water spills in inconvenient places) it’s straightforward to wipe up. Another great thing about this activity when it’s done on the ground or walls is that it provides such a huge art space, encouraging crossing the midline and spatial awareness.

My two started out using a fairly conventional drawing style which progressed first to block colouring tiles and then to experimenting with their hands and feet.

Box art

Before you recycle your boxes (nappies/diapers in this case), open them up and set the kids loose with their crayons, pencils and pens. Add in some stickers or tape for variety, or leave a big box intact and let them get inside to decorate it.

No set up, no mess. Sounds like a win win activity to me.