Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms

Activites, Child Led Play, Invitations, Motor Skills, Toys / Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

What I enjoy about children, is they will find a way to make something out of ordinary objects. I also love being able to let them lead their own play instead of telling them how to play. Welcome to my first post where I focus on the child-led play that I incorporate with my kiddos at work.

We have had this activity out a few times and each time their play was different. To me, that means they are interested in a different topic than before. I had set out the same materials each time.


Cotton balls, pom poms (big and small), bowls, tweezers/”Pinchers”, spoons, and funnels.

This activity is fairly inexpensive! All of these materials can be found at your local dollar store (hopefully). Amazon has a set of giant tweezers if you can’t find them elsewhere. I love tweezers like these because they are easier for small hands to manipulate. Amazon also has a bulk bag of pom poms. You can use pom poms for hand-eye coordination activities such as this, or an art activity like this Christmas Tree Ornament that Katie shares on her blog Preschool Inspirations.

Once you gather your materials it is time to set it up! I haven’t taken “before” pictures of this activity. BUT I can explain it! 🙂 I usually put a handful of pom poms and cotton balls in a bowl for each child. I set extra bowls (at least one more for each child) in the center of the table along with tweezers, spoons, and funnels. From there it is first-come, first-serve. If a child wants a tool that a friend has they have to ask and wait until they are done. That works 9/10 times, sometimes we forget that we are sharing toys with all of our friends.

Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms

Our initial exposure to this activity my friends did a few different things. Pom Poms were added to the cotton balls to make snowmen and flowers.

Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms


We had other friends sort the pom poms by color.

Sorting Colors

Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms

These friends in the picture above LOVE to sort by color. They will also pretend that they little pom poms are babies.


Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms


Other friends focused on using the “pinchers”. As a group I showed them how to pinch with the tweezers to help work out their finger muscles.

Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms


Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms

The next few times we brought it out we had some similar focuses, like sorting the colors but we also had more imaginative play after the first exposure. We were making birthday cakes and scooped each bite out with a teaspoon and tablespoon.

Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms


Child-Led Play: Cotton Balls and Pom Poms

This activity each time we did it kept the kids engaged for over an hour!! YES! These young little learns who usually are engaged for 20 minutes were engaged for an hour! They all could have played longer but we had to get ready for meal time. Next time I’ll switch out some of the materials to see how that changes their play.

If you are looking for a quick child-led play activity to put together, this is it!

I thoroughly enjoy watching and engaging in play with this group. They have such a quirky sense of humor. Even though it is December, they still remind me every day that mom said “No [Halloween] candy after dinner!”

Child Led Play - Cotton Balls

Check back next week for another Child-led Play post! 🙂

This post does include affiliate links however, I am not sponsored by any of these products, please see my disclosure policy here.


Leave a Reply