St Patrick’s Day Activities for Toddlers

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

I should really start thinking of these ideas BEFORE I want to do them. I’ve been staying up until midnight recently, just racking my brain for ideas for the NEXT day. Seriously. I need to work on this!

Anyway, as usual, I peruse Instagram and (sometimes) Pinterest and Google images, then I take what I see and make it work for Alexander. Sometimes I take an idea and just totally copy it, but I usually tweak it so that it works for us. He likes certain things, so I want to cater to them, to help him grow and stay engaged.

For this St Patrick’s Day, Alexander is 2 years 9 months. Here are the ideas we used this year:

1. From Busy Toddler (busytoddler.com and also on Instagram), rainbow rice. To make this, I poured 1/2 cup of plain white rice into each of 6 small plastic bags. Then I squeeze 4 drops of food coloring in each bag. In one bag, it was 4 red drops. In the second bag, it was 2 red, 2 yellow to make orange. Then 4 yellow, 4 green, 4 blue, and 2 red+2 blue. Alexander and I took turns shaking the bags vigorously, to dye all of the rice. I poured each bag, carefully, into a large metal tray, to create a rainbow. I set it by a window, in the sun, to dry for an hour or so. Then I offered Alexander several types of spoons to practice scooping! Afterward, he helped me by using a measuring cup to scoop the rice and pour it into a bag, to use again another day.

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

2. From Busy Toddler again (she’s awesome, by the way!), a green bath. I found all the green water-safe toys I could, placed them in the bathtub, and filled it up with water along with one good squeeze of food coloring. It didn’t make a mess, as you might have been wondering!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

3. Stickers + Matching. This was SO easy to put together. First, I stuck plain white stickers to a sheet of printer paper. Second, I found an image of a shamrock on the internet and printed it onto that piece of paper. Third, I wrote capital letters on the stickers. Finally, I removed the stickers one by one and wrote the lowercase letter underneath. Voila! Easy peasy. Alexander simply had to match the letters and place the sticker where it needed to go!

St Patrick's Day Activities for Toddlers

4. Banish the Snakes. One of the many legends surrounding St Patrick’s Day is that St Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. “Since snakes often represent evil in literature, ‘when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age.’ “ (If you’ve never read it, you should read some of the history/legends surrounding this holiday, like why we use a shamrock, wear green, etc. It’s interesting!) This activity is “banishing snakes” by pushing the pipe cleaners into a container, therefore making them disappear. For Alexander, at just 2.5 years, it’s just practicing some fine motor skills.

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5. Rainbow Bubbles. Woo! This was fun. I used baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring for this one. In a big plastic bin, I put about six 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda, separated. On each little pile, I squeezed a few drops of food coloring (like in #1). Then I put some white vinegar in a cup along with an eye dropper tool. Alexander simply drew water into the dropper and squeezed it onto each little pile!

6. Shamrock Painting (NOT DONE). The afternoon got away from us, so this one didn’t happen! But here’s the idea: Mix up some green paint and cut a green bell pepper (that I already had) into rings. Dip the pepper into paint and stamp it onto some paper. The cross section of the pepper is shaped similarly to a shamrock!

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Size Matching Activity

I found this blog post on The Kavanaugh Report. She’s got some killer ideas. This was just too good to pass up.

The basic instructions are in that blog post, but I wanted to share a few pointers now that I’ve gone through the project myself!

I went to Home Depot. They sell PVC pipe in long pieces and short pieces. The short pieces are 24 inches each. They sell wooden dowels in 48 inch pieces. Both of those items come in a ton of sizes, gradually increasing in size (and price). TIP: Get a shopping cart! You should have seen me trying to carry my decaf gingerbread latte in one hand and a bunch of pipes and dowels in my arms. Then I realized, once I cut all the pieces into smaller pieces, I was going to have FORTY pieces… A cart (or basket, if your store has those) is absolutely necessary!

Now, back to the pieces. I found that there were a lot more size options of dowels than PVC pipes. I would suggest grabbing 6 various sizes of dowels and taking them to the PVC pipe section. Then test them out! Be sure that each dowel can only fit into one PVC size (and larger) but not smaller. Otherwise, there are too many configurations of a correct answer in the finished product.

If you’ve got a good power saw at home, use that to cut down your pieces! We only have a hand saw, so I figured I would get the guys at the store to cut everything for me. Guess what the wood guy used to cut the dowels… a hand saw. Hey – at least I didn’t have to do it. BUT a hand saw didn’t give me very clean edges, so I had to sand down the ends of every little piece. No big deal – it was calming.

For the PVC pipe, they have a machine. But the PVC guy who helped me decided to use a hand tool to cut them all. That’s 20 cuts, buster! I gave those two fellas a workout. (Oops.)

For the size, I knew that I wanted each piece cut into 5 smaller pieces. And I wanted to dowel to be taller than the PVC so that a little part would be exposed, for grabbing onto. That said, I didn’t think it mattered that much how much taller the dowel was. I ended up going to 4.5 inches per PVC section and 6 inches per dowel section. TIP: Use a measuring tape and marker to mark 4.5 inches or 6 inches. Then once that first piece is cut, use that piece to mark the rest. Basically, the guy at the store would cut once, and I would mark off everything else. That way, he could just focus on cutting instead of pulling out the darn measuring tape each time!

Another TIP (at least for Home Depot): Make sure that you’ve got a barcode preserved from each original piece. The PVC pipes were marked up in multiple places with a barcode, but the dowels were only marked once. So if that one barcode got cut in half, make sure to grab a second identical one, just for scanning at the register!

When I got home, I sanded down all the wooden dowel pieces. I was going to spray paint the PVC pipe but figured the exposed markings were kind of cool. It looks homemade, and I’m totally cool with that.

I had a box from the thrift store that I’ve been using for something else. I always knew it would serve a better purpose: this project was it.

It took me 3 good efforts to fit all 20 PVC pipes into the wooden box, but I finally found a configuration that worked! Once I had them situated, I heated up my hot glue gun. I removed one piece at a time, glued the bottom edge, and replaced it.

It dried right away, so I played a matching game myself. While it wasn’t a challenge for me (go figure), it was very satisfying the way that every piece only fit in there a certain way. Alexander hasn’t quite figured out how to get all the pieces in there, and I imagine that will take him a while. But it will be a long-lasting activity in our school area. And according to the original blogger, her 4-year-old has recently taken an interest in it again. That’s very reassuring that a $20 project will last me such a long time!

Pine Nuts in Play Doh (VIDEO)

This is a great sensory experience, and it’s good for counting practice as well!

You can see exactly what to do in the video above. But in case you don’t have time to watch:

  1. You need 10 pine nuts (or any number of smallish objects).
  2. You need a small amount of play doh. The amount will depend on the age of the child. I think that an older child, you could use more of the play doh (and more objects to hide). This was a good amount for Alexander because it didn’t take much effort to find the pine nuts. A younger child, I would use a smaller amount of the play doh and only 3-5 objects.
  3. I pressed the play doh fairly flat.
  4. Alexander would press the pine nuts into the dough, and we would count them as he did so.
  5. Once all 10 were pressed into the dough, I would roll up the play doh and roll it into a ball. Most of the pine nuts were visible from the outside, and the others were just under the surface.
  6. I handed him the doh ball, and he would dig through and pull out each of the 10 pine nuts, counting as he went.

Super simple!

NOTE: You don’t want to do this if your baby is allergic to nuts! Use rice or dry beans or plastic/wooden beads. I just happened to have pine nuts in the pantry. (Plus “pine nuts in play doh” sounds cuter than “dry beans in play doh,” am I right?)

Tracing Objects Activity

Tracing Objects Activity

This activity is super simple and a lot of fun.

I found about 20 objects around the house that had different shapes. (You’ll see a few “mistakes” I made in a second.) I placed them onto a large piece of paper. [NOTE: I went to the local newspaper office and bought a huge roll of newspaper paper for $5.]

Then I traced the basic/rough outline of each object.

Tracing Objects ActivityAs you can see, the jar lid and the apple are both a similarly-sized circle. So those were confused when he was putting the objects back in place. Also, the large lego piece would have made more sense if I turned it to the side, so that the little nubs were visible. He left that one for the end because he couldn’t figure it out (a rectangle isn’t obviously a lego, you know?).

Tracing Objects Activity

And here’s a short video that shows the process. This is an activity we will do regularly! It would be easy to recreate using whatever objects fit our current theme, too. This one has no theme, but if we were learning about shapes, fruits and vegetables, or the continents, this would work nicely.

VIDEO: Writing the Numbers 1-10

Alexander loves his letters and numbers.

He loves watching me write the letters and numbers.

He has seen me write the numbers 1-20 over and over and over. He has practiced using these wipe-off flash cards, with me, many times. But he hasn’t practiced them solo as often.

With that said, this video shows Alexander (2 years, 4 months) writing the numbers 1-10 on these tracing cards with a dry-erase marker. Ideally, we would have a little sand tray, and he would write the numbers with his finger before moving to a writing utensil. Since his grip on the marker isn’t ideal, using his finger would be easier for him I think.

BUT… we don’t have a sand tray. So we are using what we have!

He’s enjoying himself and wrote 1-10 about five times before his hand started getting tired. I have added this station to our shelves for the month. We will do a bit of tracing/writing practice this month.

Tracing NumbersTracing NumbersTracing NumbersTracing Numbers

Twisting Practice (with short video)

Twisting Practice

I post stuff on my Snapchat account sometimes, but I did not create a separate account for this blog. Most of my Snaps are food-related! But if you’re interested in following there, I’m “blwideas”.

Anyway, this activity is slightly advanced for Alexander, though other 2-year-olds may have no trouble at all. That’s one thing I love about Montessori. Most activities you find will NOT have an age suggestion. That’s because kids move at different paces. It’s one reason I want to keep Alexander at home for now, so I can follow his lead and play to his strengths and interests. Eventually he’ll learn to read, but it will be through activity and play and exploration. And he’ll learn in his own time, which I’m convinced will be sooner than “average”. Maybe I’m being a dreamer, but if we don’t have dreams and set goals, then we’ll never reach them!

What’s that saying… You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

That’s sort of relevant here, right?

Moving right along! This activity is to practice fine motor skills because of the small caps but also gross motor skills because of the wrist and arm movement that you need to twist the caps onto the bottles.

Alexander was able to match the caps to the bottles, but he was not really able to twist on the tops. He would twist it back and forth and back and forth and wasn’t quite grasping the concept of twist, release, twist, release (does that make sense?).

We’ll practice some more! And when we run out of jam (which should be any day now), that will be another glass jar to add in. Ideally these would be all glass and not any plastic. For now, it’s what we have to work with!

VIDEO: Water Pouring

Part of my weekly plan was to practice pouring water and scooping rice. Turns out, rice is just too tiny and I got nervous! So we used Cheerios instead. Of course, he started eating them instead of scooping them. That part of the activity turned into snacktime. Woops!

There’s a video of him pouring the water. He did get better as time went on, but really, that glass pitcher is a bit too heavy. He’s not able to easily pick it up with one hand. I’d like to find a child-sized water pitcher somewhere that’s lighter weight. If I do, I’ll let you know where I got it.

Here are a few images from this activity:

IMG_4293 IMG_4294 IMG_4298 IMG_4299 IMG_4300

VIDEO: Identifying Lowercase Print

I have mentioned it before, but if you’re new to Montessori, it’s recommended to start with lowercase cursive. We didn’t know that, so we started with uppercase print, then moved to lowercase print, and now we are introducing lowercase cursive. I think uppercase cursive is tedious and almost unnecessary. If he really likes learning letters, we’ll do uppercase cursive. But truthfully, when I write in cursive (which is regularly!), I usually use uppercase print letters to start my sentences.

Anyway, we’ll cross that bridge soon enough!

In the video above, I’m using a dry erase magnetic board that I got at Target for $3.00. I couldn’t find it online, so I can’t share a link to it! If you have a Target, check those bins at the front of the store that hold the $1 and $3 items!

We played this “game” about 20 times (literally). In the video, we’re going through lowercase print letters. I changed how we went through the letters: sometimes, I would ask him to point out a particular letter. Other times, I would ask him to point out whichever letter he wanted. Either way, I erased the letters as we went through them. That way, I could leave the tougher letters for the end (like a lowercase b, d, p, and q, and also lowercase f and t).

Here’s what happened if he got a letter wrong: if I said “point to the R” and he pointed to the H instead, I would say, “That’s H!” And then I would say “point to the H” to quickly reinforce the correct letter.

Here are two other versions we did:

  1. I did more than just lowercase print. We did uppercase print and lowercase cursive. He’s lowercase cursive!

lowercase cursive letters2. I also did a mixed version that included uppercase and lowercase print. He did really well with this one, for some reason. He knocked out most of the uppercase first, and then he moved onto lowercase.

uppercase and lowercase print letters

VIDEO: USA Map Puzzle

I stated in the “plans for the week” that I wanted to introduce the USA this week. This floor puzzle is pretty advanced, so we worked together to assemble it. Then, I would remove 5 states while saying their names. And Alexander would put the pieces back in place while I repeated the names of the states.

The goal here is just to introduce him to America. I told him where we lived, where his grandparents lived, and where he was born. For now, that’s enough for me. Eventually we would work on different regions (the south, northeast, midwest, and so on) and also talk about government. I assume that will be in a few years. 🙂 But we are going with the flow for now!

He’s been to more than 10 states in his short life so far, and we can look at pictures from those trips. Then we can make connections between the state puzzles and the places he’s been. I just want him to get used to the fact that we’re in one state out of 50 states. Funny enough he was born in the District of Columbia, which isn’t a state, but we can talk about that later. That’s the nation’s capital, and that’s a whole other topic!

If you’re interested, you can purchase this state puzzle HERE.