Moms, I have a confession.   I always have two or three boxes of cereal with half a portion left at the bottom because I refuse to skim out the good cereal that’s left.  I hate all the cereal dust that collects at the bottom of the bag. It smells weird and it makes the milk all thick and gross. So, what do I do with all these tiny forgotten cereal soldiers? 

Naturally my resourceful early childhood educator mind found a way to play with them…

Cheerios or other cereals make perfect loose parts playthings.  “O” shaped cereals like cheerios or fruit loops are a lot of fun and can help kids develop the muscles in their fingers; in the biz we call this fine motor control.  The possibilities for play activities are endless, but here’s a few to get you started.

  • Pair Cheerios, Fruit Loops etc with pipe cleaners, ribbons or clean shoe laces to make delicious homemade jewelry or home decor.  The motion of threading O shaped cereal requires a lot of concentration and focus, perfect for 3-5 year olds.  
  • Stick a dowel into some play dough and see how many cheerios you can stack on it before the dowel tips over.  If you’re using Fruit Loops or something equally colourful, try making a sequence of colours and invite your child to replicate it, or create a sequence of their own.
  • If you happen to have a few kinds of cereal kicking around, mix them into a bowl and then invite your child to sort them.  Sorting helps us notice patterns and encourages counting, which will be helpful when we start learning math.
  • Draw some shapes on construction paper and invite your child to cover the lines with cheerios.  See if you can guess how many Cheerios you need to make a W shape, triangle, or square shape.
  • See how many Shreddies can fit in an empty roll of TP.  (Spoiler, we play this game a lot and the Shreddies always end up in my 4 year old’s mouth before we can count them…)
  • Play a game of Mancala with corn pops and an egg carton.  If you’re not familiar with Mancala, it’s worth doing a little Googling on the subject.  It’s a very simple game that’s been around for eons, easily adapted to kids and adults of all ages and great for developing fine motor control and counting.


Safety tips:  As always, wash your hands.  Kids will inevitably eat some cereal while they play, which isn’t really a big deal in my opinion.  I would, however, toss the cereal in the compost after we’re done playing with it.


Happy Snacking… I mean Playing… I mean Learning!!