Toddler Toothpicks

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While big brother was busy making a big kid craft involving toothpicks, Veronika wanted in on the action. Luckily I knew just how to keep a toddler busy with toothpicks in a safe way! Note: You will still want to supervise this activity a little more closely than most, since the ends of the toothpicks are pointy.

Give your toddler an empty spice jar with small holes in the cap, along with a pile of toothpicks. Chances are you won’t even have to demonstrate!

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The holes are like a magnet for toddlers, begging to be filled up with those little toothpicks.

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This activity was great for Veronika’s fine motor skills, since she had to pinch up the toothpicks from the floor. Then it became an exercise in hand-eye coordination to find a hole.

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Once the jar was filled, she loved taking the lid off to dump it and start over again!

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At a certain point, she realized that the closed jar made a shaky sound when the toothpicks were inside. An instant maraca, and an instant way to keep a toddler busy.

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Clothespin Colors

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I had two goals for this simple activity: to review Veronika’s color knowledge and to hone her pinching skills. She’s just old enough now (at 21 months) to pinch a spring-type clothespin, but I realized quickly that it’s still a struggle for her. So you may want to wait until your toddler is a little older before setting up this activity.

Still, we made it work! I put colored dot stickers at intervals around the rim of an empty coffee can.

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Then I put corresponding dot stickers on the clothespins.

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For each one, I asked her, “What color is this dot?” Once she answered, I had her hunt through her pile for the same color on a clothespin.

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Since the pinching was hard for her, I helped her secure the clothespin to the dot, then moved on to the next one. “What color is here?”

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“Green!” she said proudly.

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We worked our way once around the coffee can one time, though she did then lose interest and wanted to play with more dot stickers instead. Luckily there’s lots to do with leftover clothespins¬†and empty cans if you leave them lying around.

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God’s-Eye Key Chains

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The god’s eye symbol is a traditional votive object from Mexico. But minus the religious symbolism, the pattern is an excellent early weaving technique for grade schoolers, and a classic camp-style craft for a morning here at Camp Mom.

To start, I hot-glued pairs of toothpicks together so they crossed in the middle, and made several sets so we could weave multiple key chains. You can use regular glue if you prefer, but if so you may want to do it the night before so the glue is dry by morning.

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I showed Travis how to wrap yarn around the center to secure, then to start weaving around the toothpicks in a circle, wrapping the yarn around each toothpick before moving on to the next. The mechanics of this were a bit complicated for him, but I was so proud that he stuck with it in his own way.

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“Look, I’m wrapping!” he declared. When he had achieved the look he wanted, he decided it was finished.

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Meanwhile, I wrapped one in a more exact fashion to achieve the god’s eye look.

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You can then finish these with fun details, whether pom poms or beads. My craft bin is low on supplies but I had a few wooden beads which looked lovely glued to each toothpick point. Be sure to thread one of the beads through a final piece of yarn (use a needle, if needed), and tie this yarn securely to a key ring.

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These key chains would also make excellent gifts!