Keeping little fingers busy- the “poking” job


Like probably the vast majority of parents out there right now, I needed to keep our littlest munchkin occupied while I got some Christmas prep and “house recovery” accomplished. Enter yesterday’s savior- fondly referred to as “the poking job.”

It’s a quick, easy, cheap, toddler/preschooler job, that can instantly be seasonally customized, and have long-term benefits.  Tell me more, you say? 😉



  • push pin*
  • construction paper (here is where the seasonal customization can start!)
  • writing implement
  • cork trivet. This one is an Ikea Cork Trivet, Pack of 3 which we bought years ago
    (other ideas I ran across- cork tiles, thick flannel, rug sample, cardboard. Needs to be something that you can push the pin a bit into, but will protect whatever is underneath. I know I have some cork-backed coasters & placemats- those might be worth a try as well!)

*As with all activities that involve something with sharp parts, it should be supervised & you should use your best judgment whether it is appropriate for your child. 

  1. Cut Construction paper to an appropriate size for whatever you have as your “pad”
  2.  Draw/trace** a seasonally or interest appropriate shape on the construction paper
  3. Place the construction paper on the “pad”, pass your kid the push pin, and let them go to town!

** An older child could draw or trace their own item as additional work.  See the link at then end of the post for a good example story.

As Regan adores yellow (her “second favorite color”- topped only by bright pink), we started with a star. Simple shapes are especially great for the “beginner”- and much easier for mom to do on the fly.  However, I have apparently lost all star-drawing abilities garnered in elementary school, so I was very glad I made my attempt in pencil. And that there were two sides to the paper.

20151223_160628This activity is great for strengthening pincer grasp, aka “pencil grip muscles”, as well as concentration and hand-eye coordination.

For you super observant types, you may have noticed Regan did switch hands between some of the pictures.  I think that may have been part of her way to manage some muscle fatigue from all that righteous “gripping”. :)

As my initial goal for the day was finding my kitchen counters, she worked on our little job table in the kitchen.  By the time she finished her star (yay, sustained interest in a 3 year old!), I had moved into the dining room.

She was still interested in the work, so we got some green construction paper, she moved to a chair at the dining table, and I drew a Christmas tree shape for her (see this super easy “seasonal” part?!?). Though she complained I forgot the “bottom” (tree trunk), so got a pencil and added her own. :)

20151223_162053You could tell she was starting to get a bit fatigued by the time she finished the tree, as her hole spacing started spreading out.

It was a good thing- the next thing she asked me to draw was a cow.  I apparently have no idea what a cow looks like. The body was a lumpy horse, possibly with elephantitis, with a cat’s head. Although my cow tail was quite good. Thank goodness she never came back for that one… 😉

If you’re interested, an effective way to have them “check their work”- if their holes were nicely close together- they should be able (with help for the younger) to have “cut out” the shape with their holes, and be able to gently tear away the paper outside their shape.  If there are parts that “need some more holes”, you can probably buy yourself a few more minutes by having them take it back to poke those areas some more.

To give an idea of what work this can build to, here is a link to a story by a Montessori teacher of a bit older child doing some wonderful multi-step work. It tells a wonderful example of what their diligence and inspired concentration can accomplish.

Hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas, or other holiday of your choosing!

Here are mine, gearing up for a pre-Christmas movie:

photostudio_1450995774713 (2)
Montessori Monday
Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling
Hip Homeschool Moms

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