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Four Easy-to-Make Learning Activities for Young Children

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 2/8/2012

Try these fun and easy homemade games for children. Toddlers will think of the activities more as toys than learning.

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    Toddler Learning

    Toddlers are fascinated by their new found world. Creating learning activities for them need not be expensive nor tedious. Whether you are a parent, day care provider or nanny, your toddlers will enjoy these fun learning games.

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    Pop-Up Puppet

    Materials

    Heavy stock paper

    Marker

    Drinking straw

    Paper cup

    Pencil

    Tape

    Optional- toddler photo

    On stock paper draw a picture of a person, or tape a picture of the toddler to the card stock. Using tape, attach the picture to the drinking straw. With the pencil, poke a hole through the bottom of the cup. Hold the cup and stick the straw down through the cup with the person or toddler photo attached. Play peek-a-boo with the puppet. This activity teaches the toddler object permanence, meaning the object will disappear and come back. To extend the activity, make more pop-up puppets with animals the toddler is learning to name.

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    Color Wheel

    Materials

    Paper plate (large)

    Pencil

    Markers in colors (red, green, blue, yellow)

    4 clothespins

    Optional- one sheet of colored paper in colors (as above)

    Draw four sections on the plate using the pencil. Either color the sections in each of the colors, or use colored paper and cut/glue the color onto each section. To make the activity more interactive, allow the toddler to assist with the coloring, or have him or her glue small pieces of paper to the correct place. Using each of the colors, color each of the clothespins, one red, one blue, one green and one yellow. Ask your toddler to match the clothespin color to the color on the plate and assist him or her to clip the clothespin to the correct color. This can be done with more colors on another plate as well. This toddler learning activity teaches the child fine motor skills as well as colors.

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    Easy Magnet Game

    Materials

    Refrigerator magnets (the rectangle kind with advertisements on them)

    Magazine pictures

    Glue

    Optional- contact tape

    Depending on what you are teaching the toddler, refrigerator magnets with advertisements can be turned into a teaching tool. Cut pictures from magazines relating to what you are teaching your toddler; this could be family, animals, types of food, colors, letters or numbers. Cut the pictures to the size of the magnet and glue the picture to the magnet. Last, if desired, place contact tape over the top of the magnet to keep the picture from fraying. Place the magnets on a cookie sheet or refrigerator. This learning activity will teach the toddler to classify objects, letters, colors or numbers.

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    Cardboard Puzzles

    Materials

    Cardboard

    Cookie cutters

    Pencil

    Craft Knife

    Trace around cookie cutters onto the cardboard with the pencil. Cut out the shapes with the craft knife. Allow the toddler to place the cookie cutters into the correct holes. This learning activity will teach spatial relationships and shapes.

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    Pretend Activities

    Older toddlers love to imitate their caregivers and have great imaginations. Use every opportunity to teach your toddler about his world. For a great way to reuse old items, save empty food boxes and plastic containers, washcloths and rags in a bushel basket or old tomato basket. Allow your toddler to set up play in the living room or outdoors for hours of pretend play.

    Most importantly, no matter the activity, enjoy this time of learning and exploration with your toddler.

References

  • A Year of Fun, 1995 by, Jean Warren. Specialty Publishing House