Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little Ones Activity Tray

Busy hands are happy hands!

Keeping little ones minds and hands busy learning through play is easy with a little help from an activity tray that is bright, colorful, portable and easy for little hands to handle. 

We have been seeing the "cookie sheet" tray used in many different ways recently, but we really loved the idea of a toddler activity tray the most. It did not cost much or take much time to put on together, and that is always a PLUS in our book!

So, what value is there in play? Many studies show connections between play and both intellectual and social skills, such as memory, verbal abilities, school adjustment, and getting along with others. Studies also show that play is where children first show their ability to delay gratification, to take another person's point of view, to think abstractly, and to voluntarily follow rules. Most play researchers advocate adults having a role in children's play, so below are five tips on how to play with your child. {source}

Five tips on how to play with your child:
learning by role play in everyday scenariosTalk about different roles that people play and how these roles are related to each other. After a trip to the post office, talk about the different people that are required, like the cashiers, who sell stamps and postage services, the sorters, the loaders, the truck drivers and plane pilots, the people who put gas in the vehicles, the deliverer, and the recipient. After a visit to a restaurant, how many different roles can you think of? Allow the children to volunteer for roles to play, or help them at first by assigning them, if necessary.
child learning through planning and discussing playHelp children plan their play. Talk about who they are going to be, what they are going to play—as opposed to play with—and what is going to happen while they play. Encourage the children to discuss these things with each other.
child learning by parent and teacher extension, intervention, and refocusingExtend their play when it breaks down. When two children begin bickering over a toy, enter to extend the play. For instance, pretend to knock on a door and ask if now is a good time for a visit. Refocus the play away from the distraction and allow them to continue in the play time.
child learning through involvement in creating safe play environmentsProvide a safe play environment for children. Go beyond age appropriate materials, and also get to the safety of the children when interacting with each other. Have the children help develop rules for play that ensure safety and help to prevent injuries.
child learning through encouraging imaginative and creative playEncourage imaginative and creative play, rather than imitative play. When children begin to focus on violent or silly actions that are very narrow in scope, help them to expand the scope of play by refocusing them on other roles, other solutions to problems, and other skills that can be used to achieve the same result. Banning any type of play, violent or otherwise, rarely works for long. Help children work through issues that are restricting their imagination and creativity. Suggest painting, story-telling, and later, writing as other ways that are easier to control when dealing with these types of issues. {source}

We started with a cookie sheet from dollar tree and spray painted it cherry red.

Next we picked up some magnetic numbers while at the dollar tree and we found some large magnetic letters at the thrift store.

We thought these magnetic clips would be fun to clip on teaching aides such as paint chip cards for learning colors or other cards.

Having a little snack with playing and learning with the activity tray seems to work for us!

We use a special blanket we pull out for our blanket time learning when we want to train a child that certain activities are to be contained to a certain area. This blanket is only for this purpose. 

The little lunch box we found at Michael's in the "Duff" baking section on clearance and knew it was perfect to hold letters and numbers in and to carry in little hands.

While we chose to keep the entire tray magnetic, you could put felt on the back side and use it to tell flannel board stories. You could even turn it into a chalk board by applying chalk board paint.

How are you keeping those little hands busy these day?! Be inspired. Get creative!

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.
Proverbs 26:27

Linking To

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  1. This is a really neat idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Super cute, I had my toddler playing with one of my ugliest metal pizza trays last week. I should pretty it up for him. This is super cute.

  3. loved reading your post with two grandbabies of my own play time is one that is most precious come see me at

  4. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Such a great and inexpensive way to keep the kids occupied. Also a great way for them to learn their numbers and letters. Very clever. :)

  6. I don't know why I've never thought to spray paint my cookie sheet! Yours is so cute. Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  7. Very cute! I especially like the tip for storing them in a metal lunch box - brilliant!

  8. Such a great idea, never thought of spray painting my cookie sheets. How creative it was of you to come up with this idea. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration over at Sunday's Best!

  9. It makes my heart burst seeing mommy and toddler playing together! Cute cute!

  10. how old is your son? I have an 18 month old and trying to teach her colors. .she has no interest.

  11. Great idea! I will be getting out a cookies sheet and magnets while I make dinner tonight!

    I'd love it if you'd link up this (and anything else of yours that is relevant!) to my Teaching Time for Toddlers post!

  12. I love this, such a great idea. I hope you'll stop by and add this and any other posts you're proud of to my Wednesday What We Wore and Made Link party


  13. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

  14. You inspired me to get my letters out. It's been on my mind. New follower! Stop on by Naptime Review! Also link up on Mom's Monday Mingle. Love to have you!

  15. What a great activity for little guys! Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Great idea! I'd love for you to add it on my link party at: Thanks!