Pompom Counting Fun

Veronika and I have been exploring early math concepts lately, and here was another fun way to do so using simple materials that she loves: stickers, plastic cups, and pompoms!

I marked three clear plastic cups with dot stickers, each cup with a different color. The first cup had 1 yellow sticker, the second had 2 red stickers, and the third had 3 blue ones.

I then showed Veronika the one dot on the first cup, and told her there was one sticker. “Can you add one pompom?” I asked her. I chose to color-coordinate the pompoms to the dot stickers for clarity, but you don’t have to.

She dropped in one pompom!

Now I held up the second cup and we counted the stickers. One sticker, two stickers. “Can you add two pompoms?” Plink plink into the cup!

We repeated for the third cup with three pompoms. Obviously I was directing the game very clearly, which helped her get each answer “right”; don’t expect a toddler to do this game solo. But the activity reinforces the notion of counting up, and that numerals are attached to a tangible amount.

It would be been coldhearted not to let her play with the extra materials after that! There were more stickers she could happily dot onto extra cups, and lots more pompoms to play with and keep herself busy for a while.

While we were at it, we could talk about a few opposite concepts, like over the cup and under the cup.

So this activity is definitely a winner.

Wet and Dry Sensory Play

Veronika is at the age where’s she’s starting to understand opposites: empty and full, tall and short, loud and soft, etc. Here was a fun pair to play with in a sensory way: wet and dry!

We started with a shallow tray of dry oatmeal on the kitchen floor. She immediately ran curious fingers through the flakes of oats and loved the sensation. We talked about how the material was very dry and soft.

I asked her to help me pour a little water from a measuring cup onto the oats. Whoops, the first cup went all over the floor! So I carefully poured a second cup of water into the oats without toddler “assistance”.

Now they began to clump together and grow softer. But oh no, she didn’t like how it stuck to her fingers!

We rinsed her off, dumped that batch, and then poured in a new dry material. I had intended to use cornmeal, but was all out. Dry breadcrumbs worked in a pinch! Again, she was immediately digging through, as we talked about the dry coarse crumbs.

Again I poured in some water. Now the bread crumbs expanded and grew softer. Again she preferred dry to wet!

Another clean off and another dump. For the final experiment, I poured dry cornstarch into the tray. She loved stirring through this with a giant spoon!

I added water and of course now we had classic ooblek. She didn’t want to touch it, but she sure liked watching the way I could grab a solid clump and it would drip down through my fingers.

I would definitely repeat this activity with other materials in the future (even wet and dry paper!), because it was a great way to teach the concepts of wet and dry.

Mailbox

Veronika is very into the mail truck lately, wanting to watch our postal worker deliver the mail every chance she gets. She even got to peek inside the back of the truck! So today we recycled an old toddler favorite, with a homemade mailbox. Now that she’s older, she understands the role play involved, too.

First was the arts & crafts portion of the game: we needed to decorate a mailbox! I set out stickers and construction paper, along with an old box. She loves glue sticks and happily smeared onto strips of colored paper, which we then stuck onto the box.

I had ocean-themed stickers, which felt appropriate here in the summertime. What a beautiful mailbox!

I cut a slit in the top with a craft knife, and then showed Veronika how to stuff old junk mail through the slit.

Sometimes she had to turn a letter a little to make it fit…

…or give it an extra push to slide all the way through…

…but she was delighted with each success.

Time to open up the mailbox and see what she received!

One pamphlet just happened to have images of sheep and cows, and she was so happy. “Cow is in the mail!” She wanted to send and receive this “letter” over and over.

She also loved being able to take the lid off and put it back on all by herself, a big important toddler feeling of accomplishment.

We then decided to write a few of our own letters for big brother Travis. She loved scribbling with marker before adding her notes to the mailbox.

I could tell she was so proud to have her very own mailbox today, and left it out so she could return to it over the course of the afternoon.

Yogurt Applesauce Dip

This sweet dip is fun for kids to dip into. We particularly like giving animal crackers a dunk… but fruit works, too!

Ingredients:

• 1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
• 1/2 cup applesauce
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Craft Stick Chain Reaction

If you thought dominoes made for a great chain reaction, try this neat craft stick version! It’s sure to make kids (and grown-ups!) say wow.

The set up is definitely a little tricky, and best done with two sets of hands.

Cross two jumbo craft sticks into an X. Add a third stick, so that it is under one part of that first X and over the other. You have to keep your fingers on the cross of that first X, or the whole thing is going to jump apart!

Keep adding sticks in an X pattern, under one, and over the other. Once your start to move outwards, move your fingers forward by one X to hold it all steady.

As I mentioned, this gets tricky, and I needed Travis to lift the bottom craft stick so I had space to slide the new one under. You can literally feel the tension building in the sticks as your chain gets longer.

We only made a chain that was 4 X’s deep, but hypothetically you can keep going. Release and it pops apart! It all happens so quickly that it’s no surprise my picture is blurry.

You might want to set a slo-motion camera on a smartphone to really grasp what’s happening, but here at least is a fast video.

A fun one!