Occupying Belle While I Finish, Part 2

Belle got hungry and distracted and wanted blueberries. But then didn’t want blueberries, because she’s a toddler. Then she grabbed an ice cube tray and created her own activity.

Skills worked on:

  • 1:1 correspondence
  • counting
  • patterns
  • fine motor (pinch, precision drop)


  • ice cube tray


  • 14-42 blueberries

Belle started dropping one blueberry into each hole in the ice cube tray. I stood back and observed/continued on with the recipe. When mostly done, she accidentally dropped 2-3 berries in one hole, which gave me an opportunity to point out what she was doing: “see how there’s one blueberry here and here, but two blueberries here and none there? Can you make it so that each spot has one blueberry?”

With extra berries, we decided to put two berries in each spot. Then three. Each time I emphasized the number, and if she was interested in organizing it differently, followed her lead. A more complex pattern could be putting a blueberry in one hole, then skipping the next hole (ABAB).

We counted total berries, berries in each hole, and berries still left on her plate. Each time, I emphasized the numbers she has been habitually skipping (she counts “1, 2, 3, 5” from rote right now) to correct her pattern. If she were older, I might have introduced addition, subtraction, and multiplication, as in “if you have one blueberry and add another one, how many do you have?”

Total time: 10 minutes