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Dump It Out and Fill It Up

Book: The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities





Self Help


Fine Motor


12 to 24 Months


Large Group

PDF Available


large bucket or plastic container with large opening
assorted materials (spools, clothespins, bottle tops, large pegs)


1. Toddlers love to dump and fill. They’re so excited that something can be
full one minute and empty the next and it’s even better when they
get to do it themselves. But they also love to fill things up. It’s the
beginning of learning how to clean up.
2. Save the large plastic containers from pretzels, animal crackers, peanut
butter, or other foods.
3. Fill the containers with different objects. If possible, have some objects
that make a noise and some that have different colors.
Safety Note: Make sure the objects are large enough so that they do
not pose a choking hazard.
4. Encourage the children to empty the containers by turning them
upside down. Encourage them to refill the containers.
5. Let them do this again and again.
More to do Art: If using wooden clothespins or spools, let older toddlers paint them.
Math: Encourage the children to sort the objects from different containers
after they are dumped out and mixed up.
Sensory: Fill empty film canisters with a variety of materials, such as sand,
small buttons, and pebbles. Seal them securely so the children will not be
able to open them. Use the filled canisters as a dump-and-fill material. This
will add a “sound” component to the experience.

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