My son was bored.
He had exhausted all of his toys.
It was time for a new sensory bin or some kind of different and unique activity.
I sent him out for a walk with his grandparents who happened to be visiting and promised him something new when he came home. I scrambled around picking up pieces of felt, foam stickers, and anything else that happened to be in our craft bins. Nothing was inspiring me until I spotted an old pompom from a college football game we attended (go Rutgers!).
I grabbed an empty plastic bin, the pompom, some scissors, and spools of any kind of ribbon and lace I could find.
First, I cut the pompom strings off of the handle and placed them in the plastic bin. I then cut two pieces of every different type of ribbon and lace I had, being sure to vary their lengths.
I then mixed everything together, trying to separate the pairs from each other and hide the ribbons and lace in the pompom strings.
When my son came home, I presented him with his new matching game. I told him that he was to dig through the red and white strings to find the other pieces of ribbon and lace. When he found a piece, he was to set it aside then continue digging for more. Once he made a match, he was to shout out a silly word and do a little dance (he made up that part of the game).
The goal was to find all or as many matches as he could.
He had a good time with this activity, but of course, it wasn't long until all of the contents were spilled out onto the play mat and other objects hidden in the strings.
I recently revised this game to meet the needs of my child (and only you will know best what works for yours). It seemed that the two different colored strings that served as the base in the bin were causing my son to get frustrated.
When the Easter grass went on sale following the holiday, I purchased a few packs of the same color on clearance. I then got to play the game as I sorted all of the pairs and made sure the matches still existed. I then mixed the pairs into the purple Easter grass to hide them again. My son was much happier with this version because the game was simpler and provided more opportunities for success.
The fun that follows this activity, besides digging, finding a piece of ribbon or lace, making a match, and doing a silly dance, also includes talking about the different colors, textures, lengths, and widths of the ribbons and lace that are hidden inside.
To extend this activity even further, you can compare and contrast the pairs, measure the lengths and widths with a ruler, sort them by size or color, and even make abstract designs with them. Chances are the grass and ribbons will end up spread out on your table or floor, so just be prepared for that in advance so clean up is easier.
This was a fun, inexpensive activity that I was able to pull together using objects I already had on hand. It was a new type of sensory bin and really helped work on my son's concentration, fine motor, and matching skills.
The possibilities are endless with this type of activity.
I would love to see what your kids do with it!
For more matching game ideas that you can make, take a look at these from the Quirky Mommas: