Gumball fine motor skill play

I don’t know if you visit the dollar store as much as I do but I am a dollar store addict. Yes, I admit it – I just can’t drive by without one quick stop just to see if there is something I might want to pick up…

I recently picked up a set of gumball machines for my students to explore along with our sound of the letter Gg….

The children found the gumball machines, chopsticks, plastic cups, and gumballs out on the table to explore…

The children spent all morning using their fingers to pop gumballs out of the machine…

And the chopsticks to pick gumballs up and drop them back into the machine or into the clear plastic cups…

As the children explored the gumballs they also spent a good part of the morning just exploring the mechanics of the gumball machines too…

And different ways to get the gumballs to drop from the machine into the cups…

The children loved the gumball machines and I know someone is going to ask me if the children wanted to eat the gumballs.  I don’t know why they didn’t ask me, but they did not ask me if they could eat the gumballs. The children seemed to be more focused on using the gumballs to explore the gumball machines and because we often use items like gumballs for exploration, I think my students just know that they were for play and not for eating…

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By |2017-01-31T17:31:42+00:00November 13th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. School Sparks Renee November 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    What an adorable idea – it seems to have intrigued the children. I love those dollar stores too. I’m going to keep my out for gumball machines now! Renee

  2. Jill November 14, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

    What a great idea! I’m going today to get them! I saw them at our Dollar Tree the other day…but wasn’t thinking about how to use them in the classroom!

  3. Susan Case November 14, 2012 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Such a colorful activity – and wonderful for fine motor. That’s so funny that they didn’t even ask to put them in their mouths. Just happy exploring.

  4. Brandi Montgomery November 14, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

    I would like to ask you where you found your trays that the children were using. I have looked several places, but have not found any similar to the ones I have seen in your posts. Thank you for the information!

  5. Romy November 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Good Evening!
    What a wonderful idea! I have been looking for small tongs like the ones you used for this project, but haven’t found any. Do you have a resource for this? They do not have to be wooden, even plastic would be great. I haven’t found any at the Dollar Store.
    Thank you!

  6. Karen November 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for all the great ideas! K.

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