Whether you’re a homeschool mom, a preschool teacher, or have a toddler at home preparing for pre-k, finding engaging activities to help your child learn can prove challenging. There are a ton of resources available for what I like to call “tot-school.” However, I wanted to share what I personally do with my three-year-old to keep his little hands “busy” while preparing him to move forward in his education.
You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots. But, allow me to introduce you to my “busy boxes.” These boxes are simply 5×12 boxes stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics. We even have some STEM activities and “just for fun” activities stored in these boxes.
This month, I’ll be sharing some of our busy boxes with you in a series called Tot-school Tuesdays! First up is our “I Can Count” busy box. This box includes a worksheet, a foam sheet, foam letters, three markers, pony beads, a fizzy stick, paint, a stamper, a stamper sheet, and an apron. Everything, except the apron, was purchased from Walmart. The apron is from Lowes and they offer them for free when your child attends a Build & Grow workshop.
Our box is designed to practice numbers 11-20 (he forgets numbers 14 and 16). Each day will have a target number. Today, we worked on number 11.
We like to work on the worksheet together, first. These worksheets are available for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Print them in color or black and white. These worksheets help with practice in the following areas:
- Number recognition (0-20).
- Number name recognition (zero-twenty).
- Handwriting (with tracing guides).
- Counting (0-20).
Next, my three-year-old practices spelling out the number name using foam letters. He personally likes spelling the name on his worksheet first because it offers a guide on where each letter should go. He will then spell the number name on the foam pad. These letters do have adhesive on the back of them, but we chose not to peel the contact paper so that we can keep reusing the letters for future activities.
Placing pony breads on fuzzy sticks is probably one of his favorite activities, so I had to include it in this box. For this activity, my three-year-old will count out the pony beads per the number of the day. Today, he counted out 11 and is placing them onto the fuzzy stick. Of course, I include extra pony beads for him to enjoy after his counting assignment!
The very last activity is the messiest because it involves a paint stamper! If you don’t want things to get too messy, purchase an ink stamper. I also include some ideas in my FREE “I Can Count” resource. We use a paint stamper because my three-year-old typically likes to continue to paint after the assignment. And what’s the assignment? Today, he had to stamp his stamper 11 times on his “I Can Count” sheet. I also gave him extra paper for more painting fun!
On average, this busy box has a “busy average” in our home of approximately 1 hour (When the allotted paint has been all used up!). I want to mention that you don’t have to “oversee” your child, you can simply give it to them for fun if they are too young to really understand any of it. I hope this busy box has given you some great ideas for keeping your little one engaged! See you next Tuesday for some more totschooling ideas!