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I am so excited to start this new blog series!  How many times have you looked up the question, "What activity should I do with my toddler today?"  I know that's one of my most googled questions right now.

Whether you're a stay at home mom, homeschool parent, preschool teacher, or daycare provider; toddler engagement is NO JOKE!  We're all trying to keep them happy and engaged the best we can and with the easiest set of directions.  

So, I want to help!  This new series will be called "5 Ways to Play," and will feature 5 different activities you can do with your toddler with the SAME one material.  All of these activities will feature the same thing and repurposed to focus on different skills for your toddler.  First up; CONSTRUCTION PAPER!  I hope these activities help make setting up and designing activities for your toddler easier and less stressful!

Activity 1: Shape Sort Sticky Wall

This activity was adapted from Busy Toddler, you can read her original post here.  

At 22 months old, Little Miss has started to notice basic shapes all around her.  We constantly talk about circles and squares the most frequently because those are the shapes we see most often.  In particular her favorite "circle cheese," has become an important part of her daily routine!  I wanted to take this sudden interest in shapes and run with it using materials I already had in the house.  

I simply used construction paper that I had from other projects into different colored circles and squares.  Once I got the handle of how to hang up the Con-Tact paper, Little Miss really enjoyed this activity.  I should note that in order to successfully hang up the Con-Tact paper, I put painters tape on the back of the corners and peeled it back as I hung it up.  Then I followed the edges all around with tape to make it firmly stick onto the door.

I had originally planned to tape this Sticky Wall inside the house, but Little Miss insisted on putting it outside; so we followed her lead!  I drew a circle and square at the top of the Sticky Wall with permanent marker and guided her to sort the different colored shapes.  

As she sorted, we discussed the shapes, whether they looked the same as the other ones she had already stuck to the wall, and we also discussed the different colors she was choosing.  Simple conversation with real-world examples is one of the best methods I am finding that really works with Little Miss!

Materials Used:

Activity 2: Paint With Water

I can't get over how much Little Miss loved this activity and it's safe to say that this is one of the simplest activities I have ever put together for her.  

From the beginning, Little Miss has been a very cautious kid. New textures and environments take time for her to get used to and paint has definitely been one of those things.  I don't want her to miss out on the experience so I thought that painting with water would be a great activity to get her started with this skill.  Let me tell you, she LOVED it!

I simply set out a few different sized paintbrushes for her to choose from, different colored construction paper, two paper trays, and a cup of water.  I modeled for her first how to dip the brush into the water gently and make designs on the paper. 

This simple activity held so much power.  We discussed shapes, lines, colors, and proper hand grip!  She even insisted that we bring the activity inside while I was making dinner.  That to me, is an instant sign of success!

Materials Used:

Activity 3: Paper Tear

Paper Tear with construction paper is a fantastic fine motor activity for your little one.  It teaches endurance and helps them develop strength in their hand muscles.  This endurance and strength is needed for their development to eventually hold and write with a pencil or pen as well as zip a zipper and button a button.  

As much as I wanted Little Miss to love this activity, it just wasn't a hit with her.  That doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun for many other toddlers out there.  I'm sure if we try this activity again soon, she might feel differently!
All you need to set up this paper tear activity is several different pieces of construction paper, cut up into thin strips to allow for easy tearing.  I placed the strips into a paper tray for Little Miss and encouraged her to continue tearing over the tray.  
To extend this activity you can print out a picture of clipart or use a coloring page and have your child glue the tiny pieces of paper onto the picture for a little project!

Materials Used:

4.  Color Sticker Sort

I am happy to report that day 4 of our 5 Ways to Play with Construction Paper was much more of a success with this sticker sort!  Our color sticker sort with construction paper was just the right amount of fun to get Little Miss excited. 

I simply taped colored paper to the wall that I had on hand that matched heart shaped solid colored stickers.  I encouraged her to sort by color with some guidance from me but mostly on her own.  The construction paper was taped to the wall with painters tape again to create a workable space for Little Miss that would be less distracting for her. 

Throughout her sticker sorting, I used a lot of guiding questions like, "Does this look right?  "Does this match the others?'  "Let's try it this way!"  In order to help guide her but not do the work for her.  She did so well by herself and was very proud to show me!

Materials Used:

5.  Color Sort Sensory Bin

This sensory bin that I put together for Little Miss has been a big hit for awhile now.  I wanted to add an element of color sorting to it which is why I added the construction paper that matched the dinosaur figurines that I had inside of the box.  Little Miss was then able to explore the dinosaurs, colored pom poms, and funnels while then having the extra element to color sort her materials.
We continued having those same discussions to practice color sorting and guided her to match the dinosaurs to the correct colored paper.

This sensory bin combines so many different skills for your child to practice while having so much fun.  The goal of this "Dinosaur Rescue" sensory bin was for Little Miss to practice:
  • color recognition
  • fine motor 
  • scoop and pour
  • cause and effect
  • following directions

In order to create this bin on your own you need a few different resources:
  • dry black beans
  • clear container
  • dinosaur figurines from Target
  • colored pom poms to match the dinosaurs
  • stem learning tools
  • silicone funnels
  • construction paper to match the dinosaurs
This dinosaur rescue sensory bin kept Little Miss engaged far longer than any other activity.  Using different materials like the funnels and stem toys really helped prolong her excitement.  A note should be made to make sure an adult is supervising this activity and reminding the toddler not to put any of these materials to their mouth.

Materials Used:

I hope these 5 Ways to Play With...Construction Paper has been helpful for you and has given you tips and ideas for ways to play with your toddler at home.  These toddler activities were designed to use the same materials over and over so that once you have them in your home, there are plenty of activities you can create for your toddler to enjoy.  Creating activities to help your toddler learn important skills shouldn't be stressful and I hope these activities show that!

 I hope you follow along to see what our next 5 Ways to Play With...will be all about!

Have any questions?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below!