Sunday, May 4, 2008
Homemade Counting Toys
There are tons of counting toys I could buy, and we have a few. But as interesting as they are at first, they lose their magic after awhile, and so it creates this endless cycle of always having to buy more toys. Since one of the things I want most is activities I can do with my toddler, and since it is less expensive and less wasteful just to use things around the house in a new way, I decided to come up with a way to create new counting toys for my toddler. This is what we did today, and I'll record some of my other ideas, too.
I used a teaspoon as the "stick." I used construction paper to make some little "rings," which became the counting objects. My toddler's job in making it with me was to press really hard when I put the scotch tape on the paper to make them stay as rings. We counted them as we put the rings on the spoon, and then as we put the rings on her fingers (her idea! - it was so much fun). This was fabulous for developing her fine motor skills. Most of her store-bought ring toys are wood or plastic and relatively big and sturdy. Small, flimsy paper rings were much more difficult for her, and so it took more effort.
Other ideas for sticks:
1. Stick from the backyard and pasta (Mezzi Rigatoni worked really well - I found it at the store - it's a good size). I could just use one stick and let pasta slide down it, counting as we go. More complex, I thought about taking 2 or 3 sticks of differing lengths and then using string or something to attach them parallel to one another to a perpendicular 4th stick, which would be the base. Then we could work on concepts like, different length sticks hold a different number of pasta pieces. (This worked great! For some reason my computer won't let me put a picture of it here, but you can do it really simply. We started with just one long, thin stick and let pasta sliiiiiiiiiiiide down it, counting as we went.)
2. Yarn and pasta. To keep the pasta from falling all the way off the yarn when it slides down, I could maybe tie it to something, like one of her sand buckets. Oh, good idea!!! And then when we're done with the counting, we can swing the bucket, she can kick the bucket while I hold the string, we can jump over the string, we can dress the bucket up like (or just pretend) it is a dog and run around with it going "rough! rough! rough!" (This one didn't work so well as far as counting went. But we had a TON of fun playing with the yarn and bucket. I wrote about it in the Sand Bucket Pendulum post, and there is a picture there. Seriously, this is her favorite toy in our house now.)
Other suggestions welcome!