Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Toddler Activity Boxes

The last few weeks of my pregnancy, I decided to put together some activity boxes for Brayden to play with after the baby arrived. I knew that things would be busy for a while and that my little guy would have others watching him (Daddy + Grandmas) who might need some ideas for activities during these cabin-fever winter weeks. All I can say is that I am so happy I did this. Brayden absolutely loves them and us asking if he wants to play with his boxes immediately calms him down during temper tantrums or grumpy days.

I didn't quite finish them (they're probably 80% complete), but my goal was to include the following in each box: a musical instrument, two new books, a fine motor skills activity, a learning activity, a just-for-fun toy and one or two additional activities. Some of the things I put in the boxes I wasn't exactly sure about, but they ended up being a huge hit (leave it to a toddler to find a way to play with ordinary objects!).

I definitely didn't expect a bowl of dice to be such a hit, but Brayden played with the die in dozens of ways for a good 20-30 minutes.

I was asked to post what's in the boxes, so here are the contents (both what I finished and what I'm still hoping to include). I'll highlight the activities that have been particularly interesting for my guy with a star*


Toddler Tambourine
Books: Where is Baby's Puppy?* Richard Scarry's Cars & Trucks
Doodle Materials (construction paper, markers, stickers, stamps etc.)
*Photo Memory Cards: I printed two photos of family members onto small cards and typed the names below. We're using them for matching and memory (I put a few face down and ask him to find each one). Lauren also is trying to get him to learn how to say everyone's names.
Number Tubes: These are toilet paper rolls covered in colored cardstock with a number printed on each one. I also included bigger cardstock circles so we could stack them vertically while learning numbers. Lauren has used them for bowling and Brayden has enjoyed just playing with them at random.
*Object Shape Sort: I gathered a bunch of random objects of different shapes, placed them on foam board and traced around them. Brayden places each object in the right shaped spot. I thoughgt this one might be outside of his ability level, but he immediately figured out what to do and loves it. (The back of the foam board has number magnets traced so he can put those where they belong while learning numbers)

Not included:
Shadow Puppets (He adored the Halloween ones I made for him, so I'm hoping to include some general, non-holiday ones)


Wooden Clapper
Books: Dive In, Builder Bugs*
*Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Book (This is a pretty cool idea; the marker in the middle gets filled with water and you "color" the pages to reveal the bright pictures. Once it dries, it's blank again and you can do it again)
*Giant Bubble Wand
*Finger Puppets
Paper Plate Weaving
*Cheerio Stack (I took small containers of Play-doh, placed blunted wooden skewers in the dough and let Brayden string the Cheerios through the skewer. I didn't know if it would be too difficult or boring for him, but he LOVED the activity)

Not included:
Slot Container: I took an empty sour cream container and covered it with cardstock. I'm going to cut different sized slots out of the lid and then give corresponding lids/coins/objects that fit in each slot.


*Toddler Drum
Books: Animal Opposites, Touch & Feel 1-2-3 (Although Brayden hasn't gotten into it yet, the Animal Opposites book is pretty awesome)
*Dice: Literally, this is just a bowl of about eight dice. I wasn't sure how I'd use it, but Brayden had his own ideas. First, he put them on the drum and played the instrument, then he used the drumstick to "mix" the dice around, then he was throwing them into the bowl. He just kept finding more things to do with them!
*Shape Bean Bags: I added Duct tape to the pile so we could do something fun in the kitchen. My thought was to make a shapes with the tape and have Brayden throw bags into each one. I'm sure there are a variety of other activities we can do with the two objects though.

Not included:
Alphabet Match Cards: Similar to the photo memory cards I made, these are cards with letters and cards with pictures of something that starts with that letter. Brayden has been pretty interested in letters so I figured this would be a lot of fun for him.


*Egg Shakers
Books: Goose Needs a Hug, Fisher-Price Let's Get Moving
Sponge Painting
Nuts & Bolts: I took three different sized nuts and bolts (very large, large and medium) and put two of each size in a bowl. The idea is for Brayden to match up the sizes and put them together
*Wooden Picture Tiles: I took plain wooden tiles and drew different pictures on them with markers (dog, football, sun, airplane, etc). Brayden has loved matching them up or finding them when flipped over.

Not included:
Pom Pom Drop Game: I'm planning on putting colored cardstock around five small (empty) water bottles. I'll have the same colored pom-poms for Brayden to drop in the corresponding bottles.


Wooden Guiro
Books: Doggies, Bugs That Go*
Coloring Book & Crayons
*Vehicles Sound Puzzle (be warned: the sounds on this puzzle are pretty obnoxious)
*Almond Transfer Game: I gathered a paint palette, measuring spoon/toddler tweezers, and a cup of almonds for this activity. Brayden moves the almonds from the floor to the palette spots using the spoon or tweezers (the tweezers are too difficult for him now, but he really enjoys doing this activity with the spoon).
*Number Cards: This was sort of a filler object, but Brayden loves looking at the cards. Whoever made them did a great job deciding on the objects to include. Most of Brayden's favorite things are there - cars, airplanes, bumblebees, dogs, etc. We're counting the objects with him, but this is definitely more of a fun activity than a learning one for Brayden (we're certainly not using them as actual flashcards).

Not Pictured:
I Spy Board: I'm still hoping to make one of these. All I wanted to do was put together a collage of clipart images that Brayden knows (animals, objects, etc) so we could play I Spy. He loves doing this with his books (he always points to things when we're reading together and wants to know what they are) so I figured this would be a winner as well. Hoping to have that done soon.

These boxes have been complete life-savers for me and the hubby. Brayden asks for them everyday and they keep him busy for a long while (and not just "long" in toddler-land). And because he only sees each box once a week, it's almost like new toys all the time. They keep his interest way longer than toys that he sees regularly and somehow, he knows the boxes are something "special" for him. Even if you're not having another baby, I'd recommend something similar for an active toddler.

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