Category: FREE Learning Activities

10 Simple Learning Activities: Straw Pieces

10 Simple Learning Activities: Straw Pieces

Do you need fancy curriculum or complicated activities for your preschool at home? Short answer: NO! Simple learning activities can be just as effective for young children, and they can save you TIME and MONEY.

In our homeschool, we like to reuse our favorite materials for a variety of learning objectives. One bag of colorful rainbow straw pieces have lasted for more than five years, and we’re still coming up with new ways to play!


See even more activities for tactile learners — 100 ideas!


simple learning activities

If you are doing tot school or homeschool preschool, be sure to add straw pieces to your list of materials! (Safety note: make sure that the pieces are a reasonable length to prevent choking, and be sure to supervise your child’s play at all times.)

Here are 10 simple learning activities that can be done with straws:

  • Sort the straw pieces by color.

Give your child a muffin tin or ‘chip and dip’ container from the dollar store to make sorting easier. Add in tongs or chopsticks for added fine motor practice.

  • Add a funnel and jar.

Practice counting the pieces as you drop them in.

  • Order the straw pieces by size.

Use vocabulary like “tallest” and “smallest” to learn more about measurement. You can also use sequencing words like first, next, then, and last.

  • Lace the pieces onto a shoelace or piece of yarn.

Wear your necklaces proudly!

  • Reuse an old Parmesan cheese container for simple learning fun on the go.

Your child can work on hand-eye coordination while enjoying the unique sounds of their new instrument.

  • Practice patterns with the straw pieces.

Start with AB patterning, like red yellow red yellow, and then make more complex patterns as your child is able.

  • Build letters and words with the pieces.

Practice lowercase and uppercase, spell out your child’s name, or just have fun making random words!

  • Use the pieces with playdough!

Make faces with them or use your imagination to pretend the straws are birthday candles or something else.

  • Measure objects with the straws.

How many pieces equal the length of a ruler?

  • Count a certain number of pieces.

Add in a pair of dice or use UNO cards to work on number recognition while you play.


See all of these activities on our YouTube channel:

You can also see more of our Activity of the Week videos in our FREE Resource Library.


As you can see from these simple learning activities using straw pieces, it’s so easy to bring learning into everyday play!

Can you think of more hands-on learning ideas using straws?

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

Hooray, it’s winter!

I know it’s not common, but I LOVE winter. (I actually really love celebrating all the seasons, after living in Texas most of my life.) Winter is such a fun time to observe nature with our kids: watching squirrels and bunnies frolic in the snow, tracking footprints, and watching the days get shorter and then longer again. Whether you are doing preschool at home or just looking for awesome ideas to beat boredom with your toddlers, you’ll love these winter learning activities!

Scroll down for our freebie!

In case you missed the introduction to our invitation to play series (click here), here’s how we structure these fun, simple activities at our house.  

It’s the middle of the afternoon. Mom is trying to help the older child finish up her school work/homework before making dinner. Younger child is spinning around nearby or doing something quietly destructive in the next room. Mom pulls out an invitation to play to keep everyone calm and connected.

An invitation to play is an easy, open-ended activity. It uses just a few materials found around the house, like measuring cups, straws, old magazines, etc. Keeping these activities set aside for special times keeps them interesting and intentionally engaging for when you need 10-15 minutes to get something else done! Best of all, these simple materials can be mixed and matched for countless other activities throughout the year.

This week, I have a freebie for you: a printable with FIVE winter-themed invitations to play!

You also get:

  • a materials list
  • winter book recommendations for snowy days
  • and a coupon code for our winter Family Activity Guides, full of hands-on learning fun for kids ages 2-6!

5 Winter Learning Activities | FREE Download

Click here for your Winter Learning Activities download.

Access this and all our other freebies immediately!

How do YOU feel about winter? Leave a comment below and let me know!

How to Make an Awesome Christmas Busy Box for Kids!

How to Make an Awesome Christmas Busy Box for Kids!

Winter is coming, and you’re looking for simple play ideas to keep your toddlers and preschoolers learning at home. Between cold weather, rainy days, and lots of holidays preparations that keep parents busy, having a few educational activities set aside for your little ones is a smart idea! Read on to learn how to make a Christmas busy box for your kids. How to Make a Christmas Busy Box for Kids

Note: This busy box can be repurposed for a variety of seasons and holidays. The only thing “Christmasy” about it are the colors I chose — but you could easily make a similar quiet time activities using other colors and symbols!

In case you haven’t heard about busy bags or boxes before, they are simple learning activities that are typically self-contained and set aside for travel, waiting rooms, or quiet time. This Christmas busy box is similar, pulling together a group of open-ended materials that can be used in a variety ways. Toddlers and preschoolers can mix and match their toys for hours of creative play!

Best of all, these materials all fit in one small box, so they can easily travel to a relative’s house or holiday party all season long.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

How to Make a Christmas Busy Box:

Making a busy bag or box doesn’t have to be complicated! Think of learning skills you want to target with your toddler or preschooler and gather related toys.   This Christmas busy box that I put together focuses on fine motor and counting skills. Put all your materials in a small shoe box!

Christmas Busy Box for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Click here to see a short video explaining how to use these materials in a variety of fun activities!

Recommended Materials for Your Christmas Busy Box:

You can use ANY learning toys you have around your house–these are just a few recommendations that are both quiet and easily transportable.

  • UNO cards (specifically the red and green number cards 0-9)
  • ice cube tray
  • red, green, and white pom poms
  • tweezers
  • red and green foam blocks (1 inch cubes)
  • “velcro sticks” (red and green craft sticks with velco dots on the ends)
  • red and green pegs
  • tree cookie cutter
  • green LEGOs
  • empty (clean) Parmesan cheese container
  • red and green straw pieces
  • shoelace

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Christmas Busy Box and Activity Ideas