Explore Tubs! {freebies}

Well, hello there!  Today I am popping in once again and sharing with you what I am starting the year off with my explore tubs!  This summer I did a post all about adding more play into our days!  If you missed it …you can catch up HERE.  I will be using the explore tubs a lot throughout the year!  One way I will be using them will be for my fast finishers!  I am really good about saying find something to work on or grab a book!  Nothing wrong with those…but those little minds need to stay busy!  Along with early finishers we will also be taking time out through the day to work in the tubs…similar to a brain break!  We also have a built in explore time and will hopefully be outside for that, but if stuck inside we will have our tubs!

You can see below that I have 8 tubs…for now that will be enough because I have 17 kiddos {this has NEVER happened… pinch me, let me check my list again}. Below the 8 explore tubs are my math manipulatives and other fun and hands-on materials!  Below I will share with the the activities that I have stuffed in the tubs for now…meaning I will be changing them throughout the year!  With it being the beginning of I have A LOT  of fine motor activities as those little hands and fingers need help being conditioned!

Alright…a  little homemade explore tub up first!  I purchased these paper plates at the dollar store.  I then placed the sticker dots on the each plate for numbers 1-10.  The kiddos will use their fine motor tweezers to grab and place that many pom pom on each plate. Especially at the beginning of the year not all kiddos will be able to recognize their numbers so they can easily count the dots and then place the matching number of pom poms!
Up next …this explore tubs just requires a set of $1 popsicle sticks and THESE freebie cards!  I love these because the kiddos have to visually match what they see on the card to their own work…sounds easy, but is actually a trickier concept for the kiddos!  These cards also work on shapes too!  Again, working on fine motor skills.
How else can we explore but with playdoh!  In this tub I also have THESE freebie playdoh “I can” cards for the kiddos to generate ideas.  I have found that even with playdoh the kiddos will eventually get bored so adding in the cards will help them to get new ideas…along with the cookies cutters! 🙂
Moving along to the next explore tub and pretty much my favorite!  Legos. Yes!  Alphabet. Yes!  This is another simple and I’m sure FUN explore tub!  All you need for this tub is legos and THESE freebie alphabet cards!  I laminated my cards and placed them on the metal ring!
Here is another easy + effective explore tub to keep those minds and fingers busy!  In this tub I placed a bowl of perler beads along with pipe cleaners!  I did choose the larger perler beads I had so they would be easier to handle this time of the year!
In this explore tub I placed my teddy bear cards and a bowl of teddy bears!  The kiddos will get to play and work on their patterning skills!  I purchased my cards, but recently came across a freebie set of teddy bear patterning cards HERE.
I recently purchased this fun fine motor sorting activity HERE.  However, in the years past I always just used a muffin tin, pom poms, and tweezers ALL from the Dollar Tree!  Works just as good and is cheap! 🙂
I also ran across this building cards/shapes HERE!  Okay, these cards are not even about 3D shapes…these are for building critical thinking skills in those little minds!  Even though these are purchased I have the perfect idea making something similar for cheap!  I am also still planning to do it myself.  I am going to take my wooden blocks and build structures, take pictures of them, and place them into a 3 ring binder.  The kiddos will then get to be the architects and build the same structures they see in the book 🙂 🙂

Well that is all I have today!  Have a super week! 🙂


  1. This is just AMAZING! I have all these supplies tucked in bins – you've given so many ideas and support materials to put them to good use! My class is so sweet, but very young. These activities will be perfect! Thank you 🙂 Jen

  2. Thank you so much Tara! I love this and am looking forward to implement this beginning next week. Headed to Dollar Tree tomorrow! 🙂 I am having trouble finding the popsicle shape cards. I followed the link and could access color ones, but not shapes. Can you help me with this? Again…thank you so much!

  3. I love these ideas! I've been looking for activities for my early finishers that are still constructive and don't take a lot of prep. I would love to see more of these as you change out activities!

  4. This is exactly what I have been looking for!! Simple activities that the kids can do that will engage them and keep them busy. I want something for morning entry as I find coming to the carpet and waiting for everyone not productive. This is perfect and a great starting off point for getting this started in my class. Thank you for taking the time to explain and show us your ideas.

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