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household happies! q-tips & cotton balls!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Happy Thursday to you all!

Winter is certainly in high gear here in Minnesota!

We finally dug out from the 15 inches of snow we got last week

and our outside world is white, white, white!

Today we are excited to share the first post of a monthly feature we call

Whether we visit with our Littles once in a while or we see them on a regular basis, we are always on the lookout for activities to engage them in new and creative ways! At the same time, we don’t want to break the bank or add to clutter by making lots of unnecessary purchases!

Have you ever offered your Little a slew of bright, colorful and often new toys to only discover that they prefer checking out the pots and pans or an empty cardboard box? We have found that our Littles have just as much fun (probably more!) with objects found around the house. We’ve each challenged ourselves to “think outside the box” to create meaningful experiences with such items!

Today, we focus on two common household items, that happen to be white and fluffy like our snowy winter conditions outside - Q-tips and cotton balls. Get ready as Laurie shares this month’s take on Household Happies!


I’m so glad you asked!

1. You probably have them in your house!

2. If you don’t - they are cheap to buy and

3. You can literally buy them anywhere!

Q-tips and cotton balls were staples used in my kindergarten class and now I’m finding a variety of ways to use each with Little D.

Below you’ll find suggestions to use with different age groups… I’ve tried many of them but we’ve also provided links for a few others you might like to try!

Most babies will just want to play with the Q-tips and cotton balls! As teachers, we know that this free exploration is so important developmentally… just be sure to watch your Littles so that the Q-tips and cotton balls stay out of mouths!

A Q-Tip Jar will provide wonderful fine motor practice for your Littles! I used an empty plastic spice container for our jar. An empty (and clean) parmesan cheese container works well, too, as does a colander or strainer!

I showed Little D how to push Q-tips through the holes. It’s been fun to see her come back to this activity time and time again… each time her interest and skill grow!

She also loved just dipping Q-Tips in Paint, and then tap tap tapping to make a snow storm! (Again... remember to watch your Little closely when paints are involved! 😉)

When using cotton balls, I did some different activities with Little D (she’s 18 months old now).

But to be honest, I think she had the most fun emptying the cotton ball bin! I also gave her some cups so we could play Hide the Cotton Ball! As the photo shows, she loved the act of just playing with the cups, too! I always take my lead from Little D so we just had fun (important fun!) exploring these new "toys"!

Eventually - once Little D has had her fill of exploring the cotton balls and cups, I know she’ll love playing the game! For Hide the Cotton Ball you take 3 plastic cups and hide a cotton ball under one and let your Little find it!!

Snow Plow Fun was another hit!!

I filled a tray with cotton balls and found some trucks and cars to push that snow around! Little D had been busy watching the snow plows clear the streets outside her windows so she was ready to start clearing the streets herself! I really wanted some toy snow plows but she didn’t even notice!

for a few more ideas to do with your baby or toddler

click here (Q-tips) or here (cotton balls).

Before you know it,

you’ll have a full afternoon of grand activities planned for your littlest Littles!

Q-tip Snowflakes are a fun art project to do with older Littles! Q-tips make beautiful snowflakes when you glue them in shapes on paper!

And here are a few links to some simple Q-tip projects for your older Littles!

Q-Tip Maze - a quiet and creative spatial activity


a two step process that leads to hours of fun!

Cotton Ball Fun! These are a few games I played with my kindergartners in the winter when we all needed a break!

Snowblower was a kindergarten fave!

All you will need is a straw and a cotton ball. At the word “go”, players race to see who can blow a cotton ball across the finish line first!

We also loved playing Snowball Fling!

For this activity you will need a plastic spoon (or a fork would work) and a cotton ball. Put the cotton ball on the spoon, bend it slightly back and let it fly! It’s even more fun to make a target to aim at.

To find even more year-round ideas for using cotton balls with older kids, click here.

I especially liked the

For even more cotton ball fun, check out this cool Cotton Ball Flick Game!

And if your older Littles are into crafts, you can find some great options here.

Last of all - if possible, sneak in some Cotton Ball Math Practice, too!

Line up all the mittens and gloves you have.. Put a number at the top of each one (or even a math problem or equation for older kids) and have your Little put the correct number of cotton balls on each mitten/glove!

We hope this week’s Household Happies post provided some Grand winter inspiration for you and your Littles!

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