Easy and fun paper plate learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
The best learning activities for kids come from simple things you find around the house. Seriously, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to help your children learn and have fun. One item I keep on hand for learning activities with my preschooler is paper plates. Yep, this humble item can open up all kinds of learning. Number sense, fine motor skills, counting, fractions, problem-solving. You can even teach your preschooler to tell time. Here are 5 fun and easy learning activities for preschoolers all using paper plates.
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Paper Plate Learning Activities for Preschoolers and Toddlers
Learning activities don’t need to be complicated or expensive. These 5 paper plate learning activities come together in minutes. They are easy, fun, and effective at teaching preschoolers and toddlers.
- One Paper Plate
Take the plate and put a square of each color marker you have around the edges. Color the end of a clothespin to match each color. Then hand it over to your little one to match up the colors!
This is a great activity for learning colors and general matching skills. It also works on motor skills as they work on the clothespins.
You can change this one up by writing numbers or letters around the edge of the plate instead of colors. Toddlers might need some help with the clothespins, but with help, they can get in on the fun! (Get more fun learning activities that focus on color—> 3 Easy Science Activities to Teach Kids How Colors Work)
- Paper Plates
Take a plate cut it into three pie pieces. On one write a number, 1-10. On the second piece draw that many dots. And on the third write a simple equation that adds up to that number. Repeat until you’ve done all the numbers. Mix them up and give them to your preschooler to match up!
This activity works number sense, which is recognizing that numbers all have their own unique value. (Learn more about why number sense matters and get more fun activities to work on it here—> Number Sense: Why It Matters) Your child can practice counting and some basic math skills.
Toddlers might not be ready for the math portion, so just cut those plates into two pieces. You can either write the number on both pieces so they can match them up, or write the number on one side and that corresponding number of dots on the other piece.
These puzzles are easily stored in a big ziplock baggie to play with again and again!
- Paper Plate
- Tape or Glue
- Strips of Paper
- A Marble
- A Marker
Cut out five strips of paper, about 1.5 to 2 inches long. Write the numbers 1-5 on the strips, one number per strip. Take a paper plate and tape the strips on in an arch. Make sure there is enough room for a marble to pass under the numbers. Scatter the numbers around in any order.
Have your child try to move the marble around the plate and go under all the arches in numerical order. This activity works on counting and number recognition. It also works fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
I personally like this one because it can be frustrating for children. No, I’m not trying to be mean to them. But learning to sit with frustration and persevere through challenging activities is important. This is an activity that is tough to master right away, but given time and focus it becomes easier. Handling these tough feelings and continuing to work hard are valuable life skills.
- Paper Plates
Take a paper plate and cut it in half. Label one half with 1/2 and set it aside. Cut the other half in half. Label one piece with 1/4 and set it aside. Take the remaining piece and cut it in half. Label one piece 1/8 and set it aside. You see the pattern here. Keep it going as far as you would like.
Hand the pieces over to your child to put together like a puzzle. I prefer to give an intact plate as well. It makes it easier to hold all the pieces together. This is a wonderful way to demonstrate fractions. Your child can easily see the size comparisons between the fractions and start to learn how they relate to one another.
This is a great activity to talk through with your child. Show how two quarter pieces are the same as the half piece, etc. Be sure to share the vocabulary of a half, quarter, eighths, and so on.
After they have mastered halves get some new plates and try thirds or fifths. Compare the thirds with the halves and so on. Even if your children aren’t mastering fractions yet they will start to build an innate sense of the values behind them.
If you want to work scissor skills simply draw the lines for the fractions and let your child cut up the puzzle themselves!
(Get some more number matching games using Uno cards—> 5 Learning Activities Using Uno Cards)
- 2 Paper Plates
- Two Strips of Construction Paper
- One Pipe Cleaner
Take one paper plate and write the numbers 1-12 around the edge like a clock. Cut between each number to create a flap that can be folded down a little. Take the second plate and write the minutes in the corresponding clock places. So 00 where the 12 is, 05 on the 1, 10 on the 2, and so on until you hit 55 on the 11 space.
The strips of paper are your clock hands. Make one short hand and cut it into an arrow. Then take the other strip and make the long hand by cutting it into an arrow.
To attach all this together you need to put the first plate with 1-12 on top of the other, lining them up so the minutes are under the appropriate hours. Poke a small hole in the middle of the two plates. Poke holes in the ends of the arrows you made.
Put the arrows on top of the plates with the holes all lined up. Bend your pipe cleaner in half and thread both ends through the holds. Fold over the crease a bit so it can’t go all the way through the hole. Finally, twist the free ends in the back of the plates, open up the ends, and trim them so they are only about 1/4 inch long.
You have your clock! The hands can rotate around to mark different times. (Note: If your plates get out of alignment you can add a few dots of glue between them to hold them still. Just make sure you can still lift all your flaps.)
The hour hand shows the hours on the top plate, and the minute hand tells the minutes by flipping the tab to see the numbers underneath.
Set different the hands in different places and have your child tell you what time it is. Then switch it up by giving them a time and having them move the hands into place!
Learning Should Be Easy and Fun!
Learning activities shouldn’t be big productions with all sorts of fancy toys. Simple things work just as well. What I like about these activities are that they are accessible. They all use items I have in my house every day. Your children can easily decorate them. This is fun, and it gives ownership of the activity to the child. Having an active interest in what they are doing really increases learning retention.
Finally, you can customize the learning to the level of your child. All these can be simple for the youngest learners and made harder as your child grows. Plus if they ever get messed up or damaged you can just recycle them and make new ones!
Keep it simple, keep it fun. Happy learning!
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Here are some more great posts to check out!
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