8 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained with a Muffin Tin

Sep 19, 2016

Looking for an easy way to entertain the kids while you cook supper or wash dishes? Then look no further than your own kitchen! 

These simple boredom busters for kids use muffin tins and other simple materials that you likely already have on hand. These activities encourage fine motor skills, math skills, imaginative play, and more! But what I love is that they all require next to no prep to set-up.

1. Pompom Sorting & Patterning

For this activity, grab some pompoms and a mini muffin tray. A regular muffin tray will work, but giant pom poms work great in the mini muffin trays. Create a pattern and encourage your child to copy the pattern in the following row. Or let them create the initial pattern themselves!

Other variations of this activity you could try:

• For babies, try ball pit balls and regular muffin tins to work on one-to-one correspondence.
• Use a regular muffin tin and sort the pom poms by color into the different cups.
• Label the bottom of each muffin cup using a dry eraser marker (or label a cupcake liner) with a number and encourage your child to count the corresponding number of pom poms into that cup.
• Add measuring spoons, tablespoons, tongs or tweezers to target fine motor skills.

a muffin tin filled with different coloured cotton balls

2. Cupcake Pretend Play

For this activity, you will need:

  • Muffin tins
  • Cupcake liners
  • Birthday candles
  • Kinetic sand or play dough
  • Loose parts for decorating: buttons, glass stones, ribbon, or similar

Let your kids make and decorate their own cupcakes! My youngest really enjoys just using kinetic sand and candles to make his cupcakes.

You'll Also Love: Super Sweet No-Cook Ice Cream Play Dough

3. Muffin Tin Geoboard

My kids absolutely loved the time that I showed them how to use the muffin tin upside down as a geoboard. Just grab some color rubber bands and start making shapes on this super simple DIY geoboard. This activity is a great way to work on fine motor skills, hand strength and shapes.

a muffin tin is turned upside down and elastics are stretched over the muffin tin nobs to create a geo board.

You'll Also Love: Easiest Ever DIY Geoboards

4. Print Making

Feeling crafty? Then grab some washable paint, paper, and your muffin tins. Let the kids dip the muffin tins into a tray of paint and stamp the muffin tin to make prints on the paper.

5. Tape Weaving

This activity focuses on developing fine motor skills. You'll need washi tape (masking tape will work too!), scissors and a large mini muffin tin. Encourage your kids to cut strips of tape to fit the rows and columns of the muffin tin. Then have them weave the tape over and under. My youngest really loved this activity! But he has always enjoyed any activity that uses tape or scissors.

As a variation, you could tape pieces of string or ribbon down (just tape down one end) and try weaving the strings/ribbons.

a child uses colourful tape to put on the bottom of the muffin tins

6. Telephone Practice

For this activity, you'll need a 12 cup muffin tin and a dry erase marker. Label the bottom side of the muffin tin with the numbers 0-9, just like a telephone. Encourage your kids to practice dialing important phone numbers. Or even grab a phone book and let your kids pick random phone numbers to dial.

the muffin tin is turned over and numbers are written on the bottom to make it look like buttons on a phone

7. DIY Matching Game

Make your own matching game using a 12- or 24-muffin tin. Place the tin vertically and put pairs of items in the left and right columns. For example, you could put an uppercase letter B in a cup on the left side and a lowercase letter b in a cup on the right side. Use tape to connect the two items on opposite sides of the muffin tin.

8. Object Sorting

Get your kids to sort objects by shapes, sizes, colours, etc. with muffin tins. We used wooden shapes and I placed one of each kind in a different cup. Then my youngest son sorted the remaining wooden shapes into the correct cup. Your kids may enjoy sorting buttons, coins, LEGO bricks, mini erasers, or something else entirely! 

a child sorts shapes of different colours into the muffin tin

Article Author Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson

Read more from Dyan here.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. On her blog And Next Comes L, Dyan shares her story of raising a child with hyperlexia, hypernumeracy and autism, amongst a variety of sensory activities for kids. You can find out more about their story on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.


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