Every once in awhile you just need a quick, simple idea that holds the possibility of keeping your toddler busy but close at hand so you can cook dinner, and I recently had one of those moments. My four year old daughter and two year old son were fighting over every toy in the house, and I just needed to keep one of them occupied in the kitchen so I could get dinner made in a somewhat peaceful, timely manner. I was literally in the middle of cooking chicken on the stove, so I didn’t have time to gather up materials or do anything pre-planned. I decided to test out a Pinterest idea I had seen in the past but had never tried out: fine motor skills practice with straws and a cooking colander.
You will need:
I got out a cup of plastic drinking straws I have collected over the years and a colander, and showed my son how to fit one of the straws through one of the holes.
And twenty minutes later he was still at it!
At one point he had put all the straws through the holes in which they would fit, and finding that they didn’t fit any other sized hole, he flipped the colander over, dumped the straws out, and started all over again.
My four year old even got in on the action, but I think that was more out of “hey is he doing something cooler than I am doing right now” curiosity than it was actually executing for her, although truth be told that was ok, too, because they played quietly while I finished up dinner!
Set up: super easy
Length of time needed: however long it keeps their attention! I was very surprised at how long my kids played with the straws.
Mess factor: fairly low. The straws wound up all over the floor but nothing too terrible to clean up.
Fun factor: this is a tricky one to rate. My son really enjoyed it, but he is also the type of child that likes to figure out how things work and focus on a task. This is awesome for practicing fine motor skills, and could be extended to sorting skills as well by adding some pipe cleaners or straws of different sizes to fit through different holes. My four year old used the straws and some pots and pans to play “kitchen,” so it turned into a fun little imagination activity for her, too! Who knew drinking straws would come in so handy?