Simple Toddler Toy

Toy (3)

Toy (6)

I love to think of fun things for our little grandsons to do when they come to visit our house. Not long ago I put together a simple little toy that gave the boys a fun way to practice their developing fine motor skills. Basically all you do is cut a handful of drinking straws in half and just let your kiddos  stick the straws through the holes in the lid of a jar, filling the jar with the straws.  I used the lids to Parmesan cheese containers, since they have nice round holes that are just a bit bigger than the average straw.


Since babies like to put things in their mouths, this is definitely a ‘do-with-them’ toy.  And I realized AFTER doing this that– duh– I really should have used the plastic parmesan cans instead of screwing lids onto canning jars.  Though canning jars are sturdy and not likely to break when kids are playing on a carpeted floor, kids could theoretically throw them and break them.  Next time I buy parmesan, I’ll save those plastic cans to make this toy safer.  One thing that I didn’t expect  (but probably should have guessed) is that they liked emptying the jars just as much as they liked to fill them.


As you can see by the engrossed expressions on our little guys’ faces, they LOVED this game.  It kept them both in the same place, happily occupied, for a good ten minutes, which for them is quite an accomplishment.  They tend to turbo all around the house rapidly, usually in different directions.

My absolute favorite picture is this last one, where Ascher is leaning way down to see Ranger’s straws go into the jar.  It was so much fun to see how much they enjoyed this simple little toy.  If you don’t have straws, you could do the same thing with crayons or pipe cleaners.    Toy

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  1. Great idea! Thanks!

  2. This is one of the greatest ‘toy’ ideas have seen in a long time. Easy and fun and can think of all kind of items to drop into those containers.
    Our all time favorite toy is wood blocks- have thousands of them. Daughter is making a cube in art class for me. Teacher thought was too easy a project until he realized she intended to make 26 of them and each has a flower, bird, and other object corresponding to the letter engraved and then painted on it. She showed me one, and will be great to add to our family collection!

  3. Great idea. I will have a toddler soon (again)! I am a long-time reader but haven’t commented before. I know you know this, but those two boys are exceptionally adorable! 🙂

  4. I saw a tip like that a few years ago but they had used either the plastic cups you get for kids at restaurants (with lids) or “toss and go” cups that come with straws. Both of those are a bit smaller and PERFECT for anytime you are waiting somewhere and need a distraction, because they are easy to stick in a purse or diaper bag. We’ve taken it to many restaurants and my almost 3 year old still enjoys it at times. I LOVE the idea of using the Parm. cheese lid–so they can dump them out, and have options of where to try to stick the straw.

  5. I loved the pictures of your grandkids ! They look so serious and intentional. Reminds me that a child’s work is play.

  6. This looks like quiet fun. My husband’s Grammy had an old peanut butter jar full of milk caps that my 2 & 3 year Olds loved to dump out to sort and stack.

  7. One of my favorite quiet toddler activities is putting a lump of clay or playdough on the table, sticking a straight piece of dried spaghetti in it, and providing a bowl of Cheerios. The concentration and fine motor skills it takes to thread the Cheerios on the spaghetti is amazing. And of course, they want to make as high a tower as possible. My boys used to love this! And they can always munch on the Cheerios as they “work”.

  8. Tried this with our 16 month old granddaughter I used a spice jar which had holes in the lid. She sat on my lap and l helped direct the straws. She loved the idea, as well as shaking them out, and was happy to play for at least 5 mins