Fine Motor Fun and Games

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A couple of years ago, when Bunny was about 1 and a half, we started Tot Schooling her. We put together a little fine motor activity using pompoms and a non-spill paint pot (US affiliates), which has a small hole in the lid to poke pompoms through. We also used measuring spoons to transfer the pompoms (which are nice scoops for pompoms because of the shape). Bunny’s baby cousin (16 months) enjoyed playing with it when he visited recently.

We extended the activity when she was a little older by adding in some kids tweezers (US affiliates).


Bunny hasn’t actually grown out of this as a toy to play with, but her fine motor skills have advanced beyond this. She is not yet, however, up to performing surgery on people. To improve her fine motor skills further in this area we let her… perform surgery on people! Well, person. Cavity Sam, to be precise.

She loves “playing Doctor game” (in fact she is asking to play it right now)! We don’t use the cards or money, and just let her play it as a solitaire, unaided game (but not unsupervised – the pieces are pretty tiny). She is improving all the time!


One more trick you might be able to see in the picture (I have a different version to the Operation game (US affiliates) I linked to on Amazon so I don’t know if you can do exactly the same with the classic version) – Bunny is scared of the buzzer. So when she plays Operation I take the electronic buzzer pack out and it can’t upset her! It makes it easier to reach parts with the shortish wire on the tweezers too. You could still take out the batteries of any version though to quieten the scary noise. Speaking of versions, there are loads of new versions of Operation now! Minions, Frozen, Doc McStuffins…!

So if your tot has outgrown the pompom-in-a-pot game, give Operation a go!

Linking up to Tot School at 1+1+1=1.


That Christmassy Feeling

Have you got into the Christmas mood yet? If you’re over in the US you may be waiting until after Thanksgiving. In the UK we tend to hear a lot of Scrooge-esque complaints if you start thinking about Christmas before December.

Unfortunately, as many parents know, kids don’t live on the same calendar as adults.

Bunny started asking “Is it Christmas yet?” well over a month ago. I know this because by the nineteenth of October I was utterly sick of it. What’s a mother to do?

This is what I did: create a calendar. I drew out the number of rows we needed for the number of days remaining until Christmas (67 at the time…) and numbered the days. I added numbers counting down to Christmas every 10 days, working backwards from December 25th, since I knew Bunny would want me to count them every day!


We added stickers for the things Bunny would be looking forward to (Daddy’s birthday, my birthday, mums and tots group days… oh, and Christmas. Did I mention Christmas?) and since then we have crossed off days at least every other day. She loves the countdown, we get to talk about Christmas and what it’s about and why we celebrate, and importantly for my sanity she has stopped asking me if it is Christmas yet! She knows perfectly well that there are 33 more days to go. Yes, 33.


Yes, she is crossing off the wrong days while I try to take a picture of her… I figure we will get to 25 and 26 November soon enough!

I’m sorry if this has come too late to save your sanity. Still, with 9 days to go until Advent it could be worth 10 minutes with card, a pen and some stickers if any of your babies are as excited for Christmas as mine is!

Don’t forget to check out my 10 Gifts for Maths-Loving Kids if you have some kids on your gift-list who’d love a mental challenge while they play with their Christmas presents.

Linking up to Tot School at 1+1+1=1.


10 Gifts for Maths-Loving Kids

Well, it is that time of year again when we all turn towards finding presents for loved ones. Some people are so easy to buy for (and I’ve already bought for them!) and others are… Well, let’s say I’m hoping for some inspiration. And a wishlist or two.

With inspiration in mind I’m hoping you might like some of these ideas for the STEM-loving kids in your life (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Every link you see is an affiliate link, which means that if you click the link then I will gain a small commission from any purchase you make with no cost to you.

1. ThinkFun Robot Turtles UK/US

This is a great board game for ages 4+ which provides a fun introduction to computer programming. And the bonus is that parents don’t need a degree in computer science!

 2. Magna-Tiles 32 piece set UK/US

These 2D shapes magnetically attach to one another to make 3D shapes, which I love! There’s the opportunity for so much learning, and you can make really cool buildings too. There are lots of brands of magnetic tiles, and I chose this one to include because of the recommendations. Some other tiles seem to have problems with the magnets being polarised, but that hasn’t been said about Magna-Tiles.

3.IQ Link UK/US

I got this last year for Christmas and I love it! There is a booklet with patterns in which you copy and then fill in the remaining spaces with the leftover pieces. The main problem I have is keeping Bunny away! She loves it too. It says it’s for ages 8+ but Bunny (age 3) is able to fill in the pieces for the easy level once we set it up for her. The pieces remind me of fruit Polos so I wouldn’t leave anyone small alone with it. It’s hard enough not to try them myself!

4. K’NEX Simple and Compound Machines UK/US

My brother loved K’NEX when we were little and this set gives you instructions and pieces to build all sorts of simple (lever, wheel and axle, pulley etc) and compound machines. I love the focus on engineering, which I never really realised when we played with K’NEX as kids. This set is recommended for ages 9+ and includes a teacher guide.

5. Snap Circuits Extreme UK/US

Snap circuits allow you to build electronic circuits by clicking parts in and out. This set has 80 pieces which can make over 750 circuits. I get excited thinking about it! Snap Circuits make other sets too so you could start with a smaller one or add to a collection over time. Electronics are so fun!

6. Laser Maze UK/US

Speaking of fun, what’s not to love about lasers?! I mean, how cool is this! Any kid (or adult) who loves a mental challenge and LASERS (!) would love this logic game.

7. Gravity Maze UK/US

What about if you’re just not that into lasers? Maybe you’re a little more old-school and Newton is your favourite scientist. I’m sure he’d have loved Gravity Maze! Forget the apple falling on the head, this has marbles, towers, logic and fun for everyone aged 8+.

8. Jet Car Science Kit UK/US

There are so many science kits out there. I’ve found a bunch made by a company called Koontz, which enable you to build something and then explore how it works. I love a bit of engineering so this is right up my street, and I bet you could find a kid who would love to build a Jet Car, Safe, Periscope, Clock, Kaleidoscope, Chaotic Pendulum (that’s my pick!), Combination Lock, Catapult…

9. Number Jumble UK/Prime Climb US

Number Jumble is a game for 2 players where you have to arrange 16 tiles into a 4×4 square such that adjacent tiles always have at least one number in common. Prime Climb involves using mathematical operations (+, -, x and /) and prime numbers to travel round the board to reach the centre first and win. I really want this game! I know they had some stock issues around Christmas time last year so if you want to do some prime-climbing yourself make sure you buy early.

10. Sumoku UK/US

This is another game on my wishlist. We love games in our house and so anything where I can exercise my brain while playing gives me an added bonus! It has aspects similar to Bananagrams (US), building a crossword-style grid, and adds in multiplication practice as you have to make multiples of the number shown on the die. There are 5 different game styles included in the instructions.

I hope this has given you some ideas for mentally-challenging Christmas gifts for those kids (or adults, I’d love to get most of these!) in your life who love the STEM subjects. Happy shopping!