Hands-on Learning with Merka Toddler Placemats

Our Educational Placemat Toddlers Set is one of our best-sellers, but did you know that it can be used for a whole host of fun hands-on learning activities with your littles? In this blog we are sharing a fun activity for each of the Color, Shape, Letters and Numbers Mat.



Counting & Colors Game

This simple game is the perfect way to encourage both counting and color recognition. You need your Merka Color Placemat, a dice (we used our Learning Resources Dice Popper!), and some sort of loose part (we used Plus Plus pieces).



Ask your toddler or preschooler to roll the dice and work together to recognize the number. Then choose a color on the placemat and count that many Plus Plus pieces onto the colored square.



There are so many great skills being developed here. Little fingers are working hard to pick up and place the small manipulatives which is all great fine motor skill development. Your child is also having to identify the colors to choose, and the number on the dice. Plenty of counting is also taking place!



You can make this simpler by not using a dice and just focusing on the color matching. If you want to make it more challenging you can use two dice and encourage your child to work on their addition. Any type of loose part such as pom poms, LEGO™ bricks or even scraps of paper can be used.


Number Block Match

The Number Mat is so versatile. We opted for a simple hands-on number recognition activity this time round as we wanted a quick and hassle-free set up. We used our Learning Resources Number Blocks and set them up around the edge of the Number Mat.



The idea here is to simply encourage your child to recognize and match the numbers. Encourage them to point to the number on the mat, trace it with their finger and say it out loud. Then count the objects before finding the correct number block.



Encouraging plenty of 1:1 correspondence work, as well as number recognition and vocabulary is a great way for younger learners to build their early numeracy confidence.



Let's Build Play Dough Shapes

Play dough is such a fantastic play material for toddlers and preschoolers. We teamed some brightly colored play dough up with a rolling pin, plastic knife, and the Merka Shape Mat. The task was simple- can you build play dough shapes?



Little hands have to work hard for this challenge which makes it really good for fine motor skill development, as well as building sensory confidence. Providing several play dough color choices is a simple way to heighten engagement. Also be sure to let your child use the rolling pin and plastic knife (under safe supervision of course). Using these tools will be novel and fun for them.



Toddlers and preschoolers may not be able to name all of the shapes on the mat, but by getting them involved in building the shapes they will become more aware of them. You can also add in some numeracy by counting the number of sides each shape has. Exposing your child to words such as straight and curved will also help to expand their mathematical vocabulary.



Letter Brick Seek & Match

The Letter Mat is really fun to explore on its own due to all of the different pictures but we added an extra little challenge by putting out our Creative QT StoryBricks®.



The idea is simple, search for the letter and add the correct letter brick to the mat. If your child is younger this might be tricky for them so don't be afraid to work on it together. You can talk about the concept of upper and lowercase letters and sound them out using the image prompt.



It can also be fun to focus just on the letters in your child's name. Sound them out and see if they can find them on the mat.



We hope you are feeling inspired to try out some of these fun hands-on learning ideas. Remember to tag us on social media (@merkastore) to share your creative ways to use our Educational Placemats!

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