My three year-olds are intrigued by dot-to-dot puzzles, but struggle with the fine motor skills required to draw the line from one dot to the next. They often can’t tell what the picture is when they are done and are starting to lose interest in them. Dot-to-dot puzzles are a fun way to practice number and letter sequence as well as fine motor skills, so I really wanted to encourage them to keep working on dot-to-dot puzzles. I thought, “Why not turn it into a gross motor activity where they can’t miss the next dot?”
Here’s what you need for this Giant Dot to Dot:
- Bamboo skewers
- Foam bath letters and numbers (Or other large letter or number set you may have)
I set up the dot-to-dot during rest time only because I didn’t want baby sis (14 months) to come pluck each skewer out of the ground as fast as I could put them in! You could easily make it with older kids outside with you.
- Sort your bath letters and numbers into alphabetical and numerical order. This would be perfect for kids to do themselves or help you with!
- Find a spot in your yard where kids can view the finished dot-to-dot from above, such as a swing set or deck. We ended up getting out our stepladder.
- Place your skewers to make a picture. (Suggestions: kite, hot air balloon, sail boat, geometric shapes)
- Decide which skewer to start with and place your numbers or letters in order near each one.
- Tie the yarn to the first skewer.
- Show your child how to wrap the yarn around each skewer at least once before stringing it to the next one.
- Help your child remember to look at each letter or number to make sure they are going in order. (This was the hardest part for my girls!)
- When it’s all done, climb up to see what you made!
Both kids beamed with pride when they could see that they had made an umbrella for this rainy week. After chasing each other around the giant umbrella, lying down to pretend to hold the handle, and walking on it like a tight rope, they raced off to make their own dot-to-dot puzzles.
Here is one independent creation. “It’s a camping tent!” she had announced proudly. Please excuse our less than pristine lawn. We are raising kids, not grass. :) I hope you give it a try and have as much fun as we did!
- Don’t have skewers? Try golf tees or sharp pencils!
- Help your child use dot markers (like bingo markers) and letter stickers to replicate the dot-to-dot puzzle on paper.
- Ask your children to design their own dot-to-dot puzzles with the skewers and letters, or have them design it on paper first and recreate it as a giant puzzle outside.
- Practice recognizing geometric shapes using the foam bath numbers to emphasize the number of sides and angles in each shape.
- School age kids can design a small scale dot-to-dot in the lawn. Challenge them to figure out how to enlarge it to double, triple, or even quadruple the size. (Have tape measures on hand for a clue!)
- Let children use skewers and string to create a crisscross obstacle course. Toss in bath letters and numbers challenging them to pick them all up without touching any string. Then, work on their letter and number recognition skills by asking them to sort their collection into letter and number piles. Challenge older kids to put them in order.
Amy is a former reading and third grade teacher as well as a mother to three little girls with big personalities. She believes joy can always be found in playing, learning, and ice cream.