Thursday, October 11, 2012

Put Holes in the Top, the Fun Won't Stop!

 We are cheap all about pinching pennies around here, so anything I can do to entertain Erik without spending too much money is always a good idea.
I saw an idea for a fun DIY toy with good developmental benefits here, and decided to give it a try. I bought a can of Pringles and my hubby was more than willing to empty it out for me. I wiped the crumbs out with a damp cloth, and then used a pair of scissors to cut several smallish holes in the lid.
 Next I dug around in my craft supply stash and came up with a package of pipe cleaners for Erik to thread through the holes on the lid. Perfect! Except not quite. Erik was able to poke the end of a pipe cleaner into the hole, but then he didn't have enough control to push the pipe cleaners the rest of the way in without bending them. After several unsuccessful attempts, he gave up and refused to even try anymore. I knew I needed to find a way to tweak this idea so that it would work for us. So I went back to my stash and dug around until I found a package of small dowel rods, about the same length and diameter as a pipe cleaner. I handed Erik a couple of those and let him give it a try.
 It worked! He loves to sit and push the sticks through the holes. He's really funny though. There is one stick for each hole, but he doesn't like one of the holes I made (I really don't know why, it's big enough to easily push the stick through, but he just doesn't like it) so he will fill up all the holes except for that one, and then pull a stick out so there's an extra empty hole to put the last stick in. The problem is that this results in another stick that needs to be stuck in, so he gets stuck pulling one out and putting another in its place over and over until I dump them all out for him to start over.
Things I may change about this activity: 
-The dowels are just a little bit taller than the can (but so were the pipe cleaners), but I think it would be nice if they were short enough to fit inside. This would make it so you could use more sticks than there are holes and you could store the sticks in the can when not playing with it. One of these days when I get around to it I'm going to cut the ends off the sticks.
-Maybe it's silly, but it would be nice if this wasn't so obviously a Pringles can. I think I'm going to take some of the paper from our finger painting and wrap it around the can so that it looks nicer. Plus, it'll be fun to use Erik's "art" for something. 
-This change is for a little ways in the future, but I would like to get those hole reinforcers like you use for notebook paper and put them around the holes in the lid. Then Erik can match up the color of a pipe cleaner to the color around the hole, making this a great activity for learning colors. 
***A word of caution. Those little sticks (and the ends of pipe cleaners too) would make an excellent tool for poking out an eye or doing damage to anything else they stabbed if your child was walking around with one and tripped. PLEASE watch your child carefully while they play with this and put it away when they are done or if you don't have time to supervise closely.***
So, now for the boring part. What does Erik gain by poking sticks into an empty chip can? This is an excellent way to build fine motor skills, hand strength, and hand-eye coordination. Once he's older I'll switch him back to the pipe cleaners, and add color into the equation, and then this will also be good for sorting by color. It's a DIY toy that grows with your child, how awesome is that?!

1 comment:

  1. I very much like the way kids learn from having a posting box made from a big coffee can with a one inch square hole cut in the plastic lid. This is about slightly different skills than the bought toys with pieces that only fit in their slot, and is accessible to younger kids. Lots of fun can be had just stuffing all sorts of things through the hole. Later you can move on to things that only fit if correctly positioned, and -- very important -- mix in some things that won't fit at all.

    The can makes a good home for all the small toys, which is very useful when a younger baby visits as the choking hazards are reduced.