Tune fine motor skills with this activity from the blog PotpourriMommy.Blogspot.com, by Lindsay Mattson, a former teacher and mom of one. Simply make slits in felt shapes, and cut a length of ribbon that your child can thread the pieces onto. 4 years+
Kristen Dastrup, of PinningWithPurpose.Blogspot.com, crafted shapes for her kids to copy with ice-pop sticks. To re-create, lay out sticks to form shapes, overlapping the ends. Trace and cut craft foam to fit the centers. Paint the sticks to coordinate with the shapes; let dry. Attach adhesive Velcro dots to each end (on alternating sides). 2 years+
Create this lower- and uppercase learning activity with plastic Easter eggs. Mom of six Arlee Greenwood, of MySmallPotatoes.com, wrote letters on the halves of mismatched plastic eggs, and let her kids match up lower- and uppercases. 3 years+
For this activity, Angie Leslie, a mom who created her own company, Curious Minds Busy Bags, in Lansing, Michigan, paired chenille stems and plastic practice golf balls to make a compact lacing activity for her twin toddlers. Older kids can use the same supplies to build sculptures. 2 years+
Looking for an activity that kids could do quietly during church, Laura Hawkins, mom of two girls and blogger at HappyHawkins.Blogspot.com, invented these felt faces. To make your own, buy a variety of felt colors and download and print the face templates at parents.com/felt-games. Trace and cut templates onto felt. 4 years+
Kelly Oribine, mother of six and blogger at www.KellyOribine.com, wrote letters on clothespins for her kids to clip to flash cards with vocab words. You can print your own cards using our downloadable template at parents.com/vocab-cards. Laminate your cards to make them last longer. 3 years+
A former kindergarten teacher and mom of three, Kristin Hutchinson, the blogger behind IntrepidMurmurings.com, turned dyed pasta into a sorting game. Mix a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and a tablespoon of gel food coloring in a zip-top bag, add 1 1/2 cups dry pasta and shake it all up, then set pasta on paper towels to dry. Repeat with different colors. Mix the colored noodles together and have your child sort them into a compartmentalized container. 4 years+
Originally published in the August 2014 issue of Parents magazine.