Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #29: Colorful Pasta Creations

Many of our activities take place on rainy, snowy days, but this summer there were many days that were just too hot to play outside, so we had to find some indoor activities. While visiting Nana and Papa's house, my sister and I decided to take a look though the cupboards for some activity inspiration. We found plenty of pasta so we decided to dye it and use it for a couple of hands-on toddler activities.

To dye the pasta, combine a cup of dry pasta in a resealable bag with about a 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol and desired amount of  liquid food coloring (around 10-15 drops).  Let the pasta sit in the bag for several hours or over night, turning the bag over every once in a while. Then lay out the pasta on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels or newspaper and let the pasta dry for several hours.

Now, what to do with this colorful pasta? The first activity was stringing necklaces. Lesson learned, penne is a little too small for this. If you are going to have your toddler string necklaces I'd recommend using rigatoni or ziti. Stringing necklaces is a great time to introduce making color patterns. Clearly we went free form on this particular one.

The second activity we did was using the pasta to spell out words and names. I spelled out different family members' names in glues, the Jack placed the pasta in the glue to complete the letters. This is a great activity for practicing letter recognition.

A few other ways you could use the pasta are:

  • to practice making color patterns, place the pasta in a color pattern and have your child complete and continue the pattern
  • to practice counting by having your child count the number of pasta in different colored groups
  • to practice addition by grouping together two or more different color groups and counting the totals
  • to practice subtraction by removing a certain number of pastas from a group
  • to practice counting and multiplication by drawing circles on a paper then having your child put an equal number of pastas into each circle
  • to make a piece of artwork by gluing different shapes and colors of pasta on to a paper

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hands-On Toddler Activity #28: Domino Rally!

One of my favorite toys growing up was Domino Rally. Do you remember that one? It was not the traditional game of dominoes where you try to match up the number of dots on the pieces. It was a set of plastic rectangles that you painstakingly spent many minutes, sometimes hours, setting up in different configurations in order to watch them go cascading down in a matter of seconds. So fun! 

I thought this would be a great activity for my three year old son. It was a challenge for sure! Much of the straight lines you see here were set up by me but it was great exercise for the fine motor skills to have him very carefully add his dominoes into the line. Mostly though he preferred to build "houses" out of the dominoes. 

Another great thing we practiced while doing this activity was dealing with frustration! Very often when trying so hard to gently add his piece to the line, he would accidentally knock over the line of dominoes. We practiced some different ways to deal with this frustration rather that the normal, kicking and screaming on the floor. We tried taking deep breaths and saying the words, "Grrr, I'm frustrated!" And of course saying to the person who knocked it down, "don't worry, we can just build it again!" Dealing with frustration calmly is definitely a three year old struggle we are working hard on! Though difficult at times it was a very fun activity and we will definitely revisit this activity in the years to come!