I am not taking any credit for thinking of these ideas, just scoured pinterest and such, but in case anyone else wants some ideas, here are the ones I thought looked easy and cheap to make with supplies I would be able to find in town.
Most of the supplies I either had at home or found at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Walmart. I made eleven activities. Now, let me say, I don’t know yet which ones of these are worth making because she hasn’t played with them yet. I will try to update after she’s had a chance to play with them and let you know which ones are her favorite. Sorry, I had to take these pictures on my washer because I’m trying to not let Liv see them until the hospital. :)
- Stuff Puffs In
- Sponge Blocks
- Number Matching Wheel
- Color Matching Wheel
- Pipe Cleaner Push
- Felt Chain
- Felt Button / Threading Snake
- Popsicle Stick Puzzles
- Heads Tails Matching Cards
- Number Counting Cards
- Popsicle Color Matching
$1 bag of puffs from Dollar Tree, a plastic container with a lid from home. Cut a slit, a square, and a circle in the lid. Have your child empty and stuff the puffs through the different size/shaped holes.
2 – 4 packs of sponges, $2 ea at Dollar General. (fyi: I had trouble finding sponges without a scratchy side!) Gallon sized baggie from home. Cut the sponges into different size triangles, squares, rectangles for stacking or making pictures out of.
Cardboard, Clothespins (optional: stickers) Shape stickers and Number stickers, $1 ea at Dollar Tree, sandwich baggie from home. Cut a circle out of a piece of cardboard and divide it into 10 sections. Draw pictures or place stickers in each section from 1 to 10. Take 10 clothespins and write numbers 1 thru 10 on them. Have your child count the pictures and find the correct numbered clothes pin.
Cardboard and Clothespins from home. Divide a circle into however many colored sections you want to do. I did 14. Color each section on the wheel and a corresponding clothespin. I also wrote the name of the color on each pin. Have your child match the pin to the color on the wheel.
Pipe cleaners, $1 at Dollar Tree, Plastic container, $1 at Dollar Tree (didn’t have a good sized one like this at home), Circle reinforcing stickers, $1 at WalMart (didn’t have those at home either). Punch holes in lid, color the stickers to match the pipe cleaners, put stickers around holes. I folded the pipe cleaners in half and twisted them to make them a little sturdier, trimmed to fit inside container. Have your child match the colors and push the pipe cleaners through the holes.
Felt, $2.50ish at WalMart, sticky backed velcro, $3ish at WalMart, making this one of the more expensive activities, but I did use the felt for two other activities as well. Cut the felt in strips slightly wider than the velcro. Put one side of the velcro on one and and the other on the opposite side on the other end. Have your child link the pieces together like a chain.
Ribbon, had at home, Button and thread, had at home. Felt, $2.50 at WalMart. Sew a button on one end of the ribbon and sew a “stopper” piece of felt at the other end of the ribbon. Cut felts into different shapes and cut a slit in the middle of each shape the size needed for your button. Have your child practice putting the button through the pieces onto the ribbon and make a felt snake.
Pictures, you could use any photo you have or print a picture. I bought a pack of pictures on cardstock that the dollar store had, $1. Jumbo popsicle sticks, $2? at WalMart. I use these for another activity as well. Line up sticks and tape the back of them together just to hold them while you glue the picture to the front. Once dry, remove the tape and cut sticks apart. I used my paper cutter, but you could use an xacto knife. Have your child figure out the order of the sticks to put the picture together correctly. I made 5 puzzles like this.
This could be as easy as cutting photos in half or printing something out and cutting it in half. But I chose to have some pages printed at a copy place on cardstock ($3) and laminate them with self laminating plastic covers ($10). This definitely was the most expensive activity because of those laminating covers, but I know this one will last now for future kids. Here is where I got the “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” themed cards to print: http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com/BrowBearBrownBear.html
Foam sheets, $1 at Dollar Tree, dry beans, from home. Write numbers on the foam card and corresponding number of dots. Have your child put as many beans on the foam as the number calls for. I also saw someone use shekels for this, but beans were free!
Felt, $2.50ish at Walmart, Jumbo popsicle sticks at WalMart, $2ish. Cut two popsicle shapes out of each color felt. Glue or sew together leaving an opening at the bottom to insert the popsicle stick. Write the color name on each popsicle stick. I wrote it in the corresponding color, so she is mainly matching colors again, but sees the name as well. A more difficult version would be just to write all the color names in black. (fyi: The version I saw of this online used construction paper, but since I already had felt, I used that. I thought it would make the game sturdier as well. However, some of the sticks get caught on the felt so I’m going to paint some mod podge on the sticks to make them smoother.)