Today for toddler preschool I used one toy in many different ways. One toy created lots of learning for us and I wanted to share so other moms could see how a little can go a long way. I bought these nesting hearts (actually cookie cutters) at Dollar Tree a few years ago. They have many, many uses. First off, they nest. That's one activity in and of itself. I had the boys nest all the pieces together like a little puzzle and they loved it!
Then we chose the two smallest hearts and painted with them on a heart cut-out.
Next, I ran a string across the foyer and strung the hearts up on one end. The boys would take each heart one-by-one and run it across the room. They would count each heart as they ran. It worked on counting, gross motor, and burning off energy! :)
I then used painters tape and taped a few letters on the wall. I would hold up a letter flashcard and they would race over to the wall and find the letter on the flashcard. Their job was to put the heart around the correct letter. A few of the letters were known and the rest were unknown. Linking letter names to words they know is the fastest way (I think) to teach letters. For example, M for Mommy, G for Gabriel, D for Daddy and so forth. I tried to get the letters high and low so that they had to reach, bend, jump, squat and various other gross motor skills.
Finally we worked on ordering the hearts from smallest to largest and then largest to smallest. Great vocabulary builder!
One toy. One dollar. One day of fun!