Toddler Activity: Dump & Fill


Enjoying filling and dumping out objects is a stage in every child’s development. In this toddler activity it’s the filling step that is the changing challenge.



By Barbara Sher, The Games Lady




If you use a coffee can, cut a hole in the plastic top that is slightly smaller than the marbles.

If you use a yogurt container, cut a slit in the top to fit a poker chip.

If you use a water bottle, remove the lid or make a tiny hole in the lid.


Have two children play this game together or an adult can play with a child. One person hands a marble to the one with the coffee can and he has to push the marble into the hole until it falls through to the can, making a satisfying thunk.

Let the children take turns being the one who puts the marble, or straw or poker chip into the appropriate container and one who hands it to him. They also take turns dumping the container to start over.


1) Put all three choices in front of the child so he has to select the correct container for the object he is handed.

2) Have the child do the game with eyes blindfolded.


Children are learning to take turns and how to be a source of fun for each other.

They are learning the basics of fine motor control, as it takes a pincer grasp to hold the objects, as well as eye hand coordination in order to get it in the hole.

Because the hole for the marble is a little small, they are practicing their finger strength and their ability to move past a little frustration to success.


If your player is likely to put objects in his mouth, don’t use the marble game but do use the poker chips and make the straw pieces too big to swallow.

If your player is not ready for the fine motor aspects, remove the tops of the containers and let him just put it in and dump it out without the additional challenge.



Game published in Barbara Sher’s Book Early Intervention Games p128

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