I can’t remember how I was inspired with how to turn things I might have thrown away or given away into worthwhile learning pursuits … before Pinterest. I don’t always copy the ideas I see exactly, but more often that not I see an idea and my brain takes over.
Here are a few ideas I had pinned and have now made a reality in our learning pursuits:
1. Counting Beads
I saw this idea on Pinterest awhile back and knew I could do this with what I had on hand *almost*. I had the beads, and I had some rings.
I just needed a few more large rings, and it would be a fun project to work on together. I found those rings at the Dollar Mart Plus (kind of like the Dollar*Tree but not quite) today. It will also hopefully be something Li’l Bit can use as she continues working on counting to 10.
She loves to count, and she loves beads. This one is a win-win if her initial interest today is any indication. This was SUPER EASY and I can see many uses, and I can say it will travel well too when I need to grab something for occupying her little mind on the go!
All you do for this is find 10 of the same size rings, and add beads on each one for numbers 1 through 10. I didn’t do a ring for “zero” but I may add that later. I then put them all together on a smaller ring. She was already counting the beads up to five today.
2. Tub of Ribbons
I found a bunch of old ribbons in our attic at our previous home while packing. I almost threw them in the get rid of pile. I just couldn’t though. They were the thick and brightly-colored wide ribbons that many of us wore as BELTS (yes, belts!) in college circa early 90s. Along with duck*head shorts. And they were still like-new. 😀
They were in a little holder my Dad made. I have different plans for that now in our nature area, but back to the ribbons and the aforementioned tub (which used to house baby wipes by the way).
I had seen an idea to sew ribbons together before putting them into a container to be pulled out of, but I decided to just do something simpler. Besides, I didn’t want to sew the ribbons together, because I knew our little dancer would prefer to twirl about with multiple ribbons about her.
Sometimes I just know how it will go, and watching her twirl and explore each new ribbon as she pulled it out of the container was priceless!
This one was simple. As I said, I had the ribbons already, but you could find these on a clearance table and/or grab some at a local craft store. Or you might find these hidden gems in your attic like I did!
First, I just put them all together in one hand by one end. Then I unfurled them all to make sure they weren’t tangling together.
Second, I placed them in the empty wet wipes container. I used the kind with the pop-top dispenser.
Third, I pulled out just a couple of inches of one end of one ribbon.
Fourth, I watched our three-year-old squeal with delight as she pulled out ribbon after ribbon.
I have about 20 ribbons in our tub, and it took her a good 15 minutes to pull them all out because she explored each one and “made matches” as she went. She also broke into spontaneous ballet twirls and spins as she pulled out the ribbons.
You may wonder what is the point? Well, I used to wonder too, but she was seeing cause and effect in action, using her fingers to pull those ribbons out (it wasn’t easy and did require some finger muscle action especially for those ribbons which end was not poking out of the container and she had to really hunt for). Also she was exploring through movement and spontaneously matched the ribbons with similar colors and/or patterns.
3. Pasta Strainer and Pipe Cleaners
Who knew? So fun, engaging, and yet so simple to do!
A dollar store pasta strainer and well-loved pipe cleaners already on hand provided 20 minutes of open-ended play that required great fine motor strength and diligent thought.
And at the end of it all, the pasta strainer made a fun hat too! Try it and let me know if your preschooler liked it as much as mine!