It seems your little one is learning something new everyday. From singing the ABC’s to identifying the letters in their name, from saying “red” for every color, to matching colored shapes on a puzzle. It is impressive how fast these little ones learn and how much they truly retain!
With the amount of toys on the market, targeted to your child and their learning potential, it is no wonder the concept of DIY-ing activities at home is becoming so popular! Sure, you can purchase toys to challenge your child’s learning, but that can get costly as well as take up space around your home. Instead, consider making some activities yourself, doing so gives you the creative control to tap into your child’s interests and learning style. Below is a list of some ideas to help inspire your creativity!
Math, Numbers & Colors
The best way for your child to learn is to have fun while doing it! Children learn best through playing, and if you give them an opportunity to play with their food (just a little bit!) they will certainly start picking up on the numbers and one-to-one correspondence. I like this idea because it is so simple to make at home, and can be created specifically for your child. If you want to work on numbers 1-5, or 5-10, even addition – this idea can be as simple or complex as you need it to be!
Popsicle Stick Shape Puzzle
Another idea that can be adapted to exactly where your child is in their learning development. Use 3 popsicle sticks and create only the basic shapes, or use more popsicle sticks for more advanced shapes. While your little one is putting their puzzle together, you can even use this as an opportunity to also review colors.
Something so simple, but so worth it. Sure, your child might know all of their colors, but take it a step further and have them keep the same colors together. I like this activity, because there is also value in having your child work on a vertical surface, plus for whatever reason just by taping an activity to the wall as opposed to keeping it on the table, engages your little one for so much longer!
Shape Craft Sticks
Allow your little one the chance to explore with craft sticks, and let their imagination take over as they play. You can also use these same craft sticks to encourage some intentional, but fun, learning opportunities. Whether you choose to use these exact mats or create something similar on your own, the overall concept is the same. Watch as your little one works on one-to-one matching, identifying colors and numbers, and continues to impress you with all they know!
Reading & Writing
Word Building Travel Kit
This versatile activity is the perfect for on-the-go, or even snuggled up on the couch. Practice spelling sight words, names, or even matching letters. Create this activity specifically for your child’s skill set. Keeping the letters and craft sticks in a container also makes for easy clean-up and storage.
Find & Circle Name
This may possibly be the easiest DIY activity on the list. Simply write your child’s name multiple times on a piece of paper, and fill in the gaps with other words or names. Have your child find and circle their name, or, depending on your child’s ability – find sight words, or even just letters. If your child isn’t yet ready to circle, have them place a sticker to cover their name, or even color over their name. Easy peasy and so many ways you can do it!
Again, you only need paper and some writing utensils to make the learning happen. You can create this activity as shown, matching uppercase/lowercase letters, or you can match uppercase-uppercase letters for younger children. Try matching sight words, names, or whatever you think your child needs. There is no need for any fancy illustrations if your drawing ability isn’t quite there yet, this DIY activity is really as involved as you choose to make it.
You can also do this same activity but with post-it notes on a wall or vertical surface. Have your child match letters, sight words, or names. Again, make this activity what you need it to be!
Pre-Writing Squishy Bags
Feel free to fill the bags with any squishy substance you have on hand- rice, oats, paint, hair gel. Your child will love exploring how the texture feels, and how it looks to write on the bag. Before requiring them to immediately start writing letters or their name, give your little one the time to experiment and explore with this new manipulative. Again, children learn through play, so give them that opportunity to play!
Fine Motor With Beads
While those basic academic skills are important to work on with your little one, don’t forget about the foundational skills, like fine motor practice. Your little one needs the opportunity to strengthen their fingers while also working on their hand-eye coordination. Any activity using beads, or smaller manipulatives is great! This particular activity is a little more fun, and provides another opportunity to practice recognizing colors.
Trap, Cut and Rescue
Another great fine motor activity, and an opportunity to safely (and with supervision) use scissors. If you like this idea but aren’t quite ready to give your little one a pair of scissors, have them simply rip or tear off the tape to save the animals, cars, toys, etc. – it is a small adaptation, but works on the same skill.
Your little one is growing smarter by the day, and there is so much potential to unlock. If you are looking for ways to help jump start some learning or challenge your little one, but don’t want to add anything else to the playroom, go the DIY route. It really doesn’t have to be anything too difficult, and you have the freedom and flexibility to adapt any activity to meet your child’s needs. Think about what learning area your child needs some additional help with and get creating!