Insanely Easy Toddler Activity: Cards in a Coffee Can

Insanely Easy Toddler Activity: Cards in a Coffee Can

Hi all! If you live in Iowa, you know it’s been pretty cold the last few weeks. If you don’t live in Iowa (good for you)–use your imagination. No snow, just very, very cold.

It’s been hard to keep AJ entertained with the same old things in the house, and she has a bad case of cabin fever. She wants to go outside. We try to when it’s over 30 or so, but I just can’t justify taking a 17 month old outside when it’s 0 degrees out there.

So, like any normal mom, I turned to Pinterest. In my experience, the 12-24 month age is a weird range. They’re not babies, but most people consider toddlerhood to really start at 2. A lot of the things I found for toddlers were aimed more at 2-year-olds than younger toddlers, and I’m not about to start a project that will just not interest her, or worse, make her frustrated and prompt a tantrum. No thank you.

BUT. I did find this card slot drop idea from Busy Toddler that I thought might be within AJ’s grasp and interest. For lack of a better way to explain it, she loves to put stuff in other stuff. Does that make sense? As a very broad explanation, she likes nesting toys, and she likes to put stuff away.

I was concerned that the slot would be too small for her; I want to work on fine motor skill development, but again, I’m not interested in a meltdown. But, with a fit already looming close one cold Saturday morning, I decided what the hell–she was already on the way to Tantrumville; I couldn’t make it any worse. I quickly slashed a slot in a used coffee container, opened a deck of cards we had sitting in a closet, and let her go to town. To my complete and utter delight, she loved it!

She quickly got busy expertly slipping the cards in, and we also used it as an opportunity to talk about numbers and colors–“That’s a two of diamonds; it’s red! Oh, a seven of spades; that’s black!” Perhaps her favorite part was getting a bunch of the cards in the container then making me or Hubby open the container so she could dump them all over herself. I’m not sure that part developed any skills or knowledge, but she enjoyed it so we were all happy!

For an activity that took me less than five minutes to assemble and cost $0 since I already had everything on hand, it really has given her a ton of entertainment. If I hadn’t had the cards on hand, it still would have cost less than $7 for two decks of playing cards, or $3.50 a pack. It’s a far cry better than sitting there watching Zootopia for the 100th time on Netflix. She’s played with her coffee container more than once, and enjoys it each time.


Supplies needed:

Empty container with a lid of some kind (again, we used a coffee container)

Something to cut the lid with (I used a knife, but a box cutter would have been preferable)

Deck of cards



Cut a slot about 1/2 inch wide in the lid of the container, replace the lid, and hand to toddler for hours of fun time.


This was so easy! I would definitely do it again!

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