It's been a bit cold and windy outside lately in our little part of the world so I have been reaching for the muffin tins a fair bit.... yes there was some baking (see further down!) but these little treasures make a wonderful play item for toddlers too! The toddler twosome love investigating and playing with their muffin trays and I thought I would share some of the fun we have been having with them recently!
Muffin Tin Ball Play
This activity is so quick and easy to set up and yet it kept the toddler twosome busy for well over an hour… amazing! We started with a few different sized muffin tins...this is my tray of mini size holes.... then added some different sized balls I had collected for a rainy day. This tray has some little bouncy rubber balls and some ping pong balls.
This tray has larger holes and fit a few craft styrofoam balls.....
The girls had great fun taking them out and fitting them back in again....
They soon learnt which balls fit into which size holes...great for practising spatial awareness and eye hand coordination!
Tara had such fun making little patterns and arranging her balls in particular ways ...
She also seemed to enjoy making the tray hold either all white or all coloured balls before then mixing them up again! Options to extend this activity are endless...I find it best to have a few different sized trays with different sized and textured balls...although i have twins so no doubt one tray would be just as much fun for one child!!!
Mini Cups & Pasta Tray
Another easy yet fun activity (and Ruby's current favourite) is to provide some large macaroni pieces, some pom pom balls of different sizes and some mini plastic cups (ok...they are party shot glasses but they don't have to know that!) and some different sized muffin trays again...
The toddler twosome absolutely loved these cups and it kept them busy as they fitted them into the holes then filled them with pompoms and macaroni.
Having a tray each really helped them to play in their own way at their own developmental level and most importantly avoid fights!
Ruby really enjoyed stacking her cups and pulling them apart... over and over!
Then putting them in the tray again to fill... they are just right for little hands and fit into the muffin trays easily which avoids the frustration that toddlers can often encounter during fine motor type activities.
Who would have thought that stacking and unstacking these cups would be so much fun?... I hadn't even thought of that when i first put them out... I love what watching these girls play can teach me about their thinking processes!
She was so proud of her efforts!
That concentration was working over time on this one! We have pulled it out quite a few times since then and it apparently hasn't lost its magic... just right for one of 'those' days!
Shiny Sandy Muffins
On a particularly chilly winter morning last week when I just couldn't face the cold wind and wet grass I took the toddler twosome's Box of the Week out to the front verandah and set up a little mini muffin making station for the girls.....a few shiny sparkly things....
Some spoons, a tray of sand and a little water.... along with some bowls and of course the muffin trays!
Then I just stood back and waited to see what they would do... and let me tell you, the morning sun on that verandah shielded from the wind was glorious... although not great for photos obviously!
There was some pasta to sprinkle into sand cakes... and lots of mixing and sharing as muffin tin creations were made...
I love to watch them both playing together a little more now.... they really are becoming firm friends...
It wasn't a really messy activity as I only had this little tray of sand and minimal water... a little too cold to get soaked that day! Kept them busy though and that's what I love!
Goodness they had fun with this simple activity and the big box upside down served as a great table... they have been going back to this activity most afternoons as the sun is lovely on the verandah after a nap!
We did also manage a little baking with our muffin trays too though... lucky I have a lot of them (I'm not actually sure why I seem to have so many didn't realise I was collecting them!!!).
We made some more of our favourite snack muffins too...
I love that these contain a cup and a half of green vegies and they are none the wiser!!!
I also tried something new in the hope of getting Ruby to eat egg... she likes crunchy so I hoped that by making some crunchy quiche bases I might have some luck!
I just cut some circles from rye bread, pressed them into the muffin tins and baked for about 10-15 mins (until just brown)When cool I filled them with a basic quiche custard... ham and egg for Tara, plain for Ruby. You could also add some grated vegies....but I didn't want to push it the first time offering them!
They turned out quite well and both girls gave them a try (well Ruby picked them up which is a huge win for my sensory girl!) although i think i will need to offer them a few more times before they 'embrace' them! Tara managed to pick every bit of meat out of hers without eating much of the egg! Don't you love a toddler's initiative? Hmmm... Miss Teen loved them though!
There are a few ways we have been enjoying our muffin tins over the last couple of weeks... I hope you found some inspiration to perhaps try out with your toddler... sometimes the best activities turn out to be the most basic don't they? Helps to have a muffin tin or two I always say....
What have you been playing or baking with your muffin tins?
A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.
Three Counties Mum says
Looks like a better version of what we do! Will try some of your ideas too, thanks.
Happy Whimsical Hearts says
Wow, I would never have thought of those muffin tray ideas! It just goes to show kids really don’t need a whole stack of toys, and that bits and pieces from around the house will keep them entertained for ages! And I especially love their ‘baking’, I just love to see kids make their own ‘cakes’ – love the addition of the sparkles 🙂
[email protected] Little Bookcase says
Muffin trays. I don’t even have enough for my own baking.
Off to the shops, I think!
I truly never realised i had so many until i started pulling them all out for the girls lol!
Those are some very much loved muffin trays! 🙂 Heaps of great fine motor practice in there as well as being fun.
Wow, you have made great use of your muffin tins! I’m always amazed at the games children come up with using simple household objects.
So am i Hannah…we can really learn from children can’t we?
Learn with Play says
My daughter who’s 3 and half still loves doing all those same things. “Mini plastic glasses” haha and putting little things in things. It totally proves you really don’t need all those expensive toys. That was a lovely roundup of ideas and recipes. Thank you for sharing! You’ve reminded me to get the shot glasses out again haha 🙂
Little Mini Glasses Deb…no shot glasses here…lol! Thanks for stopping byx
Ooh, must get some “mini glasses!”. My two year old would be in heaven. We (coincidentally) just pulled out our muffin tray for some science action. Small bowls of baking soda, spoons, a muffin tin, and a spray bottle filled with vinegar! After awhile, we added food coloring to extend the activity. Kept my very active just-turned-two-last-week boy busy for a whole half hour! Score!
I keep meaning to try that activity Becky…thanks for the reminder and inspiration!I get the ‘mini glasses’ from the supermarket party section or the ‘cheap’ shop!
Jennifer @ The Preschool Plan says
My two-year-old will love this! Great way to keep him busy while 4-year-old is doing preschool. Wouldn’t be surprised if the 4-year-old winds up joining him! Thanks!
I bet your 4 year old would love it too Jennifer..it’s one of those activities!
Jennifer Fischer says
My 1 year old would love the ball idea – I’ll have to do that!
The balls are a lot of fun and keep them busy but i warn you…you will find those little bouncy balls for days if you have wooden floorboards like us lol!