For those that have a toddler or preschooler in your home, be it your own child or a child you take care of, you'll know how busy those little hands can be. Our tots love to explore and play as they investigate, and learn about, their environment. Toys, books and blocks can provide great entertainment and learning opportunities.
Although, we all know that eventually, those toys, books and blocks can lose their sparkle and interest because those busy hands are operated by busy minds.
To keep things interesting and fun, and to help teach your tot a thing or two, how about creating some learning activities for your little one? While many companies target early learning products, you can easily and cheaply create your own by taking a quick trip to your local Dollar Tree.
With two locations in Long Beach (and one in Lakewood, currently under construction), you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for. But... What is it that you're looking for?
Once you get to the Dollar Tree, keep your eyes out for objects that could double as manipulatives. As the stores stock for Valentine's Day, pick up a couple packs of heart-shaped erasers that you and your tot can use to pattern or sort by color. Grab a molded ice cube tray and some floral rocks. Your child can develop his knowledge of one-to-one correspondence by dropping one rock in each well of the ice cube tray. Check out the sugar shakers in the kitchen and dining department. Grab a box of toothpicks and your tot now has an activity that will build his fine motor skills as he drops each toothpick through the holes on the sugar shaker lid (or, if he's ready for something harder, try the same activity but pick up some pipe cleaners and try those!). Looking for an early reading tool? Toss a cookie sheet and a package of magnetic letters in your cart and you'll have an instant and portable learning center.
And the best part? Everything is only a dollar.
Naturally, keep in mind that any small pieces need to be used under strict adult supervision, but that's part of the fun anyway. Your curious little learner will be fascinated by the chance to use new "adult" materials but he will also love the opportunity to work alongside you.
So, get to a Dollar Tree and stock up. Let your creative juices flow and your toddler will be sure to appreciate it!
Visit the Dollar Tree website for store hours and locations.
Try bagging up some of your new learning activities so that they're ready to entertain your tot while you're dining out or spending time in waiting rooms. Read this article to learn more about creating activity bags.