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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Toothpick Trace busy bag

Toothpick Trace
(Disclaimer: This activity is suggested for older preschoolers who can safely use toothpicks without hurting themselves.)

Here is an interesting activity that I’ve called Toothpick Trace.  I was reading about different ways to develop hand-eye-coordination in older preschoolers and they suggested using toothpicks to ‘trace’ – have the child poke holes along a pattern line.

As shown above, place a hand towel on a flat surface then a dark colored piece of construction paper and top with a pattern. (Our patterns were hand-traced from favorite puzzle pieces but you could just print off some clipart shapes.)  Once the holes are poked, the dark colored piece of paper can be hung in a window to let the light shine through the new outline!

Wooden clothes pins are placed to secure the top and bottom so my preschooler can focus on his handiwork with the toothpicks.  To reduce the risk of injury, I may go buy some of those fun toothpicks with silly decals at the top (such as little umbrellas) so there is only one sharp end.

Now, this activity does break a rule of the Busy Bag criteria list…all bags are:
non-messy and/or quick clean up, totally independent in use, interesting enough to last 15-30 minutes, and reusable products <—the rule breaker.

Even though this basically fits the concept of other Busy Bags, I wanted to give it a try with my four year old. He doesn’t show interest in writing or drawing or doodling. If he does any of these activities, it’s because I told him that he had to and then the activity only lasts 5 minutes.  This also means he doesn’t have very good skills with using pencils or paint brushes.

So I’m open to any kind of activity for him that builds his skill at “writing”…and using toothpicks is included! 

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  1. We did this on tinfoil at Christmas time and then wrapped and taped the tinfoil around mason jars. Then we took a battery operated tea light and put it under the jar to make cool Christmas lanterns.

    My 3 year old was able to do some of the hole poking, and she thought it was fun.

  2. neat idea!! I saw one where people used paper bags as lanterns -- they 'toothpick traced' images onto one side and then put candles inside...once lit, the paper bag glowed and the image was easy to see.
    Now I just need to get those flameless candles like you mention and I'd love to try your idea too!

  3. The Occupational Therapist I work with has the children use push pins and pencil erasers. You push the pin into the eraser and this automatically creates the correct hand shape for writing. She gave the students pieces of a cardboard box she had cut up and then some washed/recycled styrofoam meat trays (like what your chicken or steak comes on from the grocery store). She also gave the kiddos a stencil to use as a guideline. They loved this activity and I'll be using it again in the future. Hope you can use it, too!

  4. Excellent idea!! Thanks for this post.