Sometimes the best preschool and toddler activities are the ones you overlook. This simple fine motor activity using a colander and toothpicks provided my preschooler with some much needed entertainment. While he explored the materials, I got to sit back, observe and supervise his busy work, and enjoy a much-needed cup tea.
Colander. Any colander will do. We have a beat-up, stained metal colander that I still use. It works just fine, thankyouverymuch. But a plastic colander will suit your purpose just as well. You might call it a sieve, but the name is irrelevant. It's a dome covered in small holes.
Toothpicks. What you need are long, thin objects. You can also use thin, wooden skewers. If you are concerned about the sharp point on the toothpick or skewer, your child can use pipecleaners, instead. It creates a different experience, but that's good, too!
SIDE NOTE: We used pipe cleaners with great success in a fine motor threading activity
Goodness, as with the similar activity of pushing craft sticks through a hole in a plastic container, there hardly seems any point in giving detailed instructions!
Step 1: place the colander on the floor or table.
Step 2: show your child how to poke the toothpicks through the holes in the colander.
Step 3: drink your caffeinated beverage of choice while you watch and supervise!
In general, the toothpicks will slip right through the holes and fall to the floor inside the colander's dome. Your toddler or preschooler will most likely experience delight in discovering a pile of toothpicks underneath the dome when he is done.
With long skewers, the experience is different. Skewers will hit the floor and remain partially sticking out of the holes. That's fun, too!
Pipe cleaners require more manipulation, and little fingers will work a bit harder to push them through the holes. You could even provide all three materials at the same time so your child can compare the effort it takes to complete the task.
No matter what materials you provide, your children are giving their fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination a work out!