AGE: 18 months to 5 years
GET READY: Look around your house, and the dollar store, for: a dozen plastic eggs, an empty egg carton, a bucket (or other container large enough to hold the eggs), a pair of kitchen tongs (for kids 3 to 5) and a tray large enough to hold it all.
GET SET: Place the plastic eggs in the container. Put the container, egg carton, and tongs on the tray. The tray confines the space for the activity and promotes focusing on one area.
SIT BACK AND WATCH YOUR CHILD GO: Begin by showing your toddler how nicely a plastic egg fits into the egg carton. Then you might say, “Would you like to put the eggs into the carton?” Watch the look of careful concentration on her face! When she’s done, if she doesn’t do it herself, show her how to put the eggs back into the container and start again.
AS YOUR CHILD GROWS: Children ages 3 to 5 are usually ready for the challenge of transferring the eggs using a pair of kitchen tongs. This small change to the activity adds a big boost in small muscle development—small muscle control will strengthen your child’s fingers and prepare her for writing, drawing and cutting. To add more to this activity talk to your older child about grouping the eggs by color. Or, build mini-math skills: Ask your child to transfer six eggs into the carton. Then ask him to take two eggs away. Have him count how many eggs are left.
YOUR CHILD WILL LOVE: The pretty colors of the eggs, the feel of the eggs in her hand, fitting the eggs into the carton, seeing the contrast between the empty container and the full carton, the challenge of learning to use the tongs.
YOU WILL LOVE: How this simple activity builds concentration, eye-hand coordination, and strengthens hand and finger muscles. It also helps with language development (talk about the different colors, the type of container you used, the word ‘transfer’ and concepts like ‘full’ and ‘empty’).