Category Archives: Toddler

Toddler Games: Alphabet and Name

This tub was so much fun! Emily asked to play with it all the time, which I consider a huge success. Some days she wanted to search for the letters and some days she wanted to play with the beans only. And since she knows to sit on the blanket I lay out, the mess on the floor is minimal (mostly).

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Alphabet: Tub:  colored beans, tongs, funnel, measuring cup, alphabet (capital letters), letter mat (both capital and lowercase)

The first time I pulled out the tub, I just let Emily play with the beans. I had put all of the letters under the beans, and she was so surprised and delighted to find the letters. After she just played for awhile, I showed her how to use the funnel and transfer the beans back and forth. We practiced using the tongs, but she got frustrated pretty quickly. By the end of the two weeks, she was picking all sorts of things up with them though!

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Okay… teacher moment… When you’re creating alphabet games, use both capital and lowercase letters. I know most activities show capital ones, but learning lowercase letters is even more important in learning to read. Think of how many letters are lowercase versus capital. Which is why one side of my alphabet mat is matching capital to capital letters and the other side is matching capital to lowercase.

Idea from Hands On As We Grow:  Letter Scavenger Hunt photo 1-2


Alphabet Books

Magnetic Letters
photo copy 3 I saw this idea on Pinterest but the link was only to a picture (if you know what blog it came from, please pass it on so I can give them credit). I never did find the oil pans at Walmart but did at Auto Zone for about $10. I’m not sure how we’re going to attach it to the wall, but that’s Logan’s problem now…


Emily Letter Match
photo 3-2 For this game, I found Emily’s name in different types of letters. She has to match the letter she draws out of the bag to the mat. Then there’s another set of letters for her to order independently.

Idea from Toddler Approved:  Name Stegosaurus
20140612-142520-51920844.jpg20140612-142520-51920010.jpgShe LOVED this activity! Using the clothespins took some practice, but she’d match the letters and have me put them on the butterfly until she could do it independently.


I loved doing this tub with Emily! She got so excited about “school” time. We’d usually do two or three of the games at a time–a total of about 10-15 minutes. And the sensory tubs are so much easier to put together than busy books (I have to admit, I never made Emily a busy book. I always meant to get around to it and felt a little guilty that I didn’t. So finally I deleted all of the idea on my Pinterest boards. I feel so much better when I go through my Toddler Games board now. Silly, I know!).

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Toddler Games: Sensory Box Fillers and Tools

This summer I’m trying to keep Emily as busy as possible. She’s going to summer preschool two times a week (that’s been a tough transition!), but that’s still lots of time that she’ll be with me. I’ve already planned Museum Mondays (we have a membership to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis–love) and story time at the library on Wednesdays. We’re part of two reading programs so reading books will be happening all the time.

Petting a tortoise at the library's Critter Chat

Petting a tortoise at the library’s Critter Chat

I’ve also put together some sensory boxes and activities to practice letters, Emily’s name, colors, numbers, and shapes. My current plan is to keep each set of activities around for two weeks, which will last until the end of the summer. So during middle of the night nursing with Piper, I made lists and pinned ideas…

Step 1: Sensory Box Fillers
You can find all sorts of filler ideas on Pinterest. I narrowed my list down to things I already had around the house or could be picked up in a trip to the dollar store.

*colored beans
*tissue paper (cut into squares)
*scrap cloth (cut into strips)
*pom poms

Other ideas:  rice, ribbons, feathers, sand, dirt, beads, popcorn kernels, pebbles, cornmeal, oatmeal, lentils

Colored Beans:
I got the tutorial for coloring the beans from Fun at Home with Kids. Super fast and easy. One thing to note now that Emily has played with the beans for a few days–the color will bleed onto their hands. Since the food coloring is water based, those sweaty little hands will cause some of the color to rub off. We’ve had no problem getting the color off in the bath, but make sure your child is wearing play clothes.
*I used three bags of white beans for about 18 cups of beans–plenty to fill a tub.

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Step 2:  Tools
I gathered all of these into a large bag and will randomly put them in the sensory boxes. I’ve also pulled them for play dough, water play, “cooking,” etc.

*rolling pin
*practice chopsticks (I wanted a big pair of tweezers but couldn’t find them)
*tongs (Walmart had a cute pair of small ones)
*measuring cups
*measuring spoons
*paint brushes
*plastic knife
*popsicle sticks

*Step 3:  Box
Find a large box with a lid. This way you can leave your supplies in there, store it easily, and keep the moisture out (for things like the beans and pasta). I also have a blanket around that the box has to stay on. That way I don’t find beans all around my house!


Whatever you decide to use, make it easy and inexpensive. Don’t use anything that would be difficult to replace. Most of the supplies you’ll be able to use for another sensory box, but make sure it’s all things you’d be okay tossing if you need to!


The first box and activities we’re doing are to practice the alphabet and Emily’s name. Next week I’ll post the activities we’re using.

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