Easter Eggs! 5 Great Skills Kids Can Learn Through Playing with Easter Eggs

In the next few weeks, many families are going to have a small mountain of Easter Eggs at home.  Those cheap, plastic, little eggs are one of my favorite play tools and occupational therapy tools for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged kids.

eastereggplayideas5 Great Skills Kids Can Learn Through Playing with Easter Eggs

  1. Bilateral Hand Skills– this means using two hands together at a task.  Easter Eggs are perfect for getting kids to use both hands.  The youngest kids need to use two hands to open the egg up to find what’s hidden inside.  Older kids need to use two hands to re-assemble the egg.  Opening and closing the eggs also helps to build hand strength.  Try adding the eggs to a sensory bin (or make a sensory bin to use with the eggs- check out this post here), bring them in the bath, or even use them at meal time to make eating more fun for children.
  2. Sensory Processing and Cognition Skills– hide a small item in the egg and make a guess as to what is inside.  Try to look for its outline (lighter eggs work better).  Shake the egg and hear its sound.  A great activity for building sensory discrimination skills for visual and auditory sensations.  The cognitive skills involve making predictions, learning from mistakes and changing one’s approach, and attention skills.  Another great idea is to fill the eggs with different things (like musical instrument shakers) and compare the sounds.
  3. Visual Scanning and Problem Solving– Easter Egg hunts!  After the traditional hunt is done, hide other small objects in the eggs and do a hunt around the house.  As children hunt for eggs they have to use visual skills to look across the environment, sustain their attention, and problem-solve an approach to searching.
  4. Pre-academic and Academic Skills– Easter Eggs are a fun and motivating way to work on color/size matching as you re-assemble the eggs, counting as you find the eggs (did you find all 10?), and sorting.  Toddler may work on in/out play with the eggs, while older children can sort into different piles based on characteristics.easteregginoutplay
  5. Body Coordination and Balance– Borrow a large spoon from the kitchen (younger children need a big spoon, older children may need the challenge of a smaller spoon) and do a relay of an egg on a spoon.  Add as many obstacles as you need to challenge your child (going over, around, under things).  This activity forces a child to pay close attention to their body and work on control of their movements.

All 5 skills are important parts of a child’s overall development, but they are also the foundation skills that lead to strong fine-motor skills and handwriting development.  Check out this post on how occupational therapists look at the skills underlying handwriting development. 

Other Hints:eastereggshiddentoy

  • You can put all kinds of small objects into the eggs (not just candy).  Examples- stickers, dollar store figurines, coins (for older children), and small fake jewelry.
  • The cheapest eggs (often dollar store eggs) are smaller and harder to put together than slightly nicer eggs.  For younger kids (or kids who struggle with fine motor), spending a few more dollars is worth it for nicer eggs (they last longer too).
  • Having a variety of eggs in different sizes and colors can help challenge older kids.
  • You can write on the plastic eggs with permanent markers- a great way to re-use them for other games.  For example, you can write shapes, letters, or numbers on them as you work on other academic skills.
  • Use the eggs with other familiar toys to encourage creative play and flexible thinking.eastereggplay1
Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net