If you have any stale cereal or crackers in your house, this is a must-try activity for your toddler. It’s simple, engaging and is great for promoting your little one's fine motor development. The best part is after they finish smashing all the cereal and/or crackers you can use this a second time as sand for a taste safe sensory bin. This activity can also be adjusted for a variety of ages.
- Stale cereal or crackers
- Large bin to contain the mess
- Toy hammer, spoon or potato masher for smashing
- Start by placing your stale cereal and/or crackers into a bin.
- Set the bin up outside or on a sheet to contain the mess.
- Put out some smashing tools like a toy hammer, metal spoon or potato masher. This will allow your little one to work on their fine motor development as they handle the tools.
- Demonstrate to your child how you use the tools to smash the contents of the bin. Your child will be targeting their fine motor development, overall arm and hand strength, as well as their hand-eye coordination to smash the contents of the bin. This will also allow them to have first-hand experience with cause and effect. Narrate the actions to compound this lesson with observations like "when you break the crackers, they break up into smaller pieces." They will get to see how their actions of smashing the contents of the bin crush it and turn it into dust.
- Another benefit to this activity? It's taste-safe! If your little one gets curious and wants a taste test, they can, which makes for another added sensory experience for them. Just remember to monitor younger children carefully.
Skill areas addressed:
- Fine motor development
- Hand-eye coordination
- Cause and effect
- Visual motor skills
Extensions & Adjustments:
- For children under a year, they might not be able to use the tools provided. Instead, present them with an object that they can grasp onto like a block. This will allow your child to develop their fine motor development skills through the grasping of the object. Just be sure to monitor them at all times and make sure contents of the bin are not choking hazards.
- For children 3 years of age and above, you can present the activity as is and they will still enjoy it. You can never do too much fine motor practice. This will give them an edge when it comes time to grip a pencil or tie their shoes.
- When they finish, use the contents of the bin again by setting up a beach or construction sensory bin using the smashed cereal and crackers. You can easily extend the play by burying “treasures” in the bin or introducing funnels or scooping toys. This is a great way to reuse the contents to benefit your child’s sensory development while engaging in some pretend play.
Author: Chris Longo