A toddler learns through exploration through his five senses – this activity involves touch.
As an alternative to the sandbox, a bag of dried rice and a colorful bean mix are poured into a plastic container. He can put his hands into the rice and bean mixture and feel the different textures. He also lets it drop through his fingers, as a sieve would do… smaller bits first and he ends up with the large beans left in his hand. This also helps tell the different between object sizes.
If you want to get more creative, add measuring cups so at the same time, he will learn about math. I gave him 1/4, 1/2 and 1 cup measuring cups to play with. He then realizes that it takes 4 fill-ups from the 1/4 cup to fill up the 1 cup and only 2 fill-ups for the 1/2 cup.
I also put a magnifying glass in there so he could “inspect” the different sizes and colors of the beans.
Supplies: Plastic container, bag of beans, bag of rice, measuring cups, magnifying glass
Preparation: Mix the beans and rice in the plastic container.
A simple and fun activity for any preschooler!