Who doesn’t love a giant dice?

One of the teaching tools I really enjoyed using at preschool was a giant dice. Customized to fit the activity, a big dice can be useful to teach your little one not just counting and number sense, but can be used to encourage gross motor development, colour recognition,  and even as a conversation starter for small groups of kids (think Circle Time or Sunday School).

Since I don’t have Circle Time at home, I wracked my brains trying to figure out how to use a giant dice at home to engage the little mister. Last year I found a great physical activity dice idea where I drew a different gross motor skill on each side of the dice. Ty and L love it. I used short word directives, but I also (poorly) drew a picture on each side so even Ty can tell what action he should do!

I usually make my dice out of recycled cracker boxes, and last week I happened to have another one. This time I made a more traditional dice, with dots representing one to six on each side, but in different colours. I can use it for counting games with Ty, for colour scavenger hunts (we roll the dice, look for things all around the house that are that colour, and see how many we can find), or whatever else I can think of at the moment.  Since I really like making these (almost as much as I love knitting scarves!), I thought I’d share the instructions with you so you can make your own.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is only appropriate for toddlers/preschoolers. The big kids in my house are constantly playing with the giant dice. I just had a thought – doesn’t a life-sized board game outside in the summer sound fun?

What you need:

  • cracker box (I usually use a big Goldfish crackers one), or any box that can easily be made into a square. Or you could go buy a new tea kettle and keep that box, like I did on the weekend!)
  • utility knife (if your box is not square)
  • packing/duck tape
  • paper to cover the box
  • markers/crayons/bingo daubers or whatever you would like to decorate the outside
What you do:
  • (If you have a square box, skip to step 2.) Remove box flaps on top of box. Measure at each corner to a point that you will cut to to make new flaps (to make the box a cube). Draw a score line on each side from corner to corner to make folding easier; fold flaps down.

  • Fill box loosely with crumpled newspaper to make the dice roll evenly. Secure flaps closed with tape.
  • Cover box with paper (or paint). I also cover the edges of the box with tape, but that’s the perfectionist coming out in me. I don’t like the unfinished paper edges. You can skip that if you want.

  • Decorate box. If you’re simply putting dots on, bingo daubers work well, although you need to let one side dry before you flip it over to do the other side. I learned the hard way.

  • Have fun!
I’d love to know what activities you use your dice for if you make one. Feel free to email me or comment below!

(instant)joy: pipe cleaner activity

As a mom of four one thing I really, really appreciate is activities and crafts that are easy to set up and easy to do. I’m all about simple in our house! But I also really like it when I can find something that literally takes seconds to throw together to keep the little mister busy for a few minutes while I get something done.

Like last night when I was baking cupcakes for Hannah’s birthday and he kept trying to steal them because I was also in the middle of making supper and he was hungry. Definitely a good time for an instant activity!

I’ve been wanting to introduce this one to Ty ever since he was a baby, so I was really glad to dig it out.

What you need:

  •  pipe cleaners in various colours, cut in half
  • colander

What you do:

 

  • Show your toddler how the pipe cleaners fit in the holes of the colander.
  • Let them try, helping if necessary at first.
  • Once they’ve mastered it, you’re good to go!

Ty’s a pretty quick study – it took him watching me twice and me helping him once to figure out how to do this activity, but it kept him busy for a good ten minutes. Once he finished fitting pipe cleaners in, I encouraged him to take them out and do it all over again. He loved it!

And the cupcakes? Whisked away to the safety of our freezer, waiting to be devoured by a gaggle of preteen girls this weekend.

Mission: accomplished!

Stay tuned for more (instant)joy ideas coming your way soon!