Time Saver, Cost Saver, Super-Sized Fun Activities

Are you looking for activities that will save you time and money but that are big on fun and learning? Let us introduce 3 more activities from our featured series. All materials for the activities can be found at home or purchased in dollar stores.


This activity can help to develop fine motor and language skills.

Purchase a collection of containers such as: small coin purses, small tin toy lunch boxes, cases for eye glasses, pencil cases, plastic/tin containers with hinge lids, salt/pepper shakers, etc., with a variety of fasteners such as: velcro, zippers, snaps, latches, magnets, fasteners, screw tops, etc.


1.   During group time place a variety of containers in a surprise bag.  Have each child choose a container from the bag to open, discovering a “surprise” inside.

2.   To further expand this activity, have the “surprise” in the container represent a favorite song or game (e.g. a small plastic animal for “The Farmer in the Dell” or a small plastic goose and duck for the “Duck, Duck, Goose” game).  Once “found”, the song is sung or the game is played.

3.   If a child is having difficulty opening his/her container, encourage this child to ask for help from a peer.

4.   Make the containers available as a tabletop activity.


These  items,  found at  the dollar  store,  will  enrich your sensory activities and expand developmental opportunities for the children.


1.      Fun Foam: comes in a spray can, in different colours.  Spray on mirrors, trays, in bins, even on snow.

2.      Silk vinyl flower petals: add to water or sand table, or add to collage materials at the art table.

3.      Fizzy colour tablets: put in water table and have the children enjoy  the  effects.   Put  different  colours  in  clear  plastic containers, observe and mix to see what happens.

4.      Small bugs from the craft aisle: add to sand table for children to discover, count, sort, etc. Consider freezing bugs in a container of water. Once frozen remove from the container and add to the water table. Pour room temperature water along with eye droppers, spoons, turkey basters or tongs so children can chip out the bugs.

5.      Tongs or Strawberry Hullers: add to sensory bin for retrieving buried treasures.

6.      Mardi Gras Beads: put in water table to swirl or catch on rods or in sieves.


This activity can help to develop fine motor skills and begin science through exploration of light, sound and color.

Buy an assortment of colanders at your local dollar store, made of plastic and/or metal, in different sizes and colors.

1.  Put in your water table or sensory bin to explore and strain big and small objects. Allow enough space for children to use the materials.

2.  Place a colander upside down on a metal tray. Have the children poke a variety of objects like straws, feathers, pipe cleaners, stir sticks or dowels into the colander holes. Draw the children’s attention to the various sounds made as the objects hit the tray. Talk about which objects fit in the holes and which don’t.

3.  Have the children lace shoelaces, pipe cleaners, gimp, yarn etc. in and out of the holes of the colander to create designs. This is a good art activity for 2 or more children to work on together.

4. Place a light source under an upturned colander and encourage the children to explore the dot patterns on their hands or other surfaces. Put marbles in a colander with a light source underneath and let the children look, touch and see the changing color patterns. Try these activities in a darkened room or box for extra impact.

5.   Display different sized colanders on the table and talk about how they fit together. Compare and match according to size and color.

Ideas and activities provided by the staff from Children’s Integration Support Services and Making Connections Nursery School.