This is a really super activity for toddlers and young babies. It is clean, safe and not really that messy! Fill a large box, or even a laundry basket, with paper from the shredder. If Little Sparks can climb into the box all the better! (Ask someone who works in an office for some of their shredded paper if you don’t have a shredder of your own.)
Simply providing plain shredded paper and a box will supply plenty of entertainment in itself, but you can ring the changes to extend this toddler and baby activity and employ it to suit different learning goals.
Supply lots of boxes of different sizes and let your Little Sparks enjoy exploring volume as they stuff as much shredder paper into the boxes as they can. Are they really full? Can they stuff more in? Do this with waste paper baskets also, at the same time they can learn about helping to tidy up!
You can use paper of different colours. If you overfill your shredder (as I’ve learned by mistake!) the paper comes out really crinkly to add extra sensory appeal! You can hide all sorts of toys and objects in the box. These might be objects related to other activities that you intend to do later – wooden spoons, small rolling pins might be a clue to a cooking activity for example. You might hide different fruits for children to find and then pair this with a reading of Handa’s Surprise or The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
In the picture above we used coloured paper (from an old, discarded scrap book) and our coloured number bears to explore various mathematical concepts.
As always safety is paramount, do make sure you supervise these activities at all times – babies are sure to want to ‘eat’ some of the paper. If you haven’t shredded the paper yourself do sift through it first to make sure that little staples haven’t found their way in.
We like to get as much life out of our resources as possible! Keep the shredded paper for collage activities, for example making hair on paper-plate faces. It can also be added to water and flour paste for modelling activities. When you really think you are done with it, shredder paper is a great addition to the compost heap.