Popsicle Slots: A Color Sorting and Fine Motor Activity


As the color weeks from my Teaching Toddlers series come to an end, I have been looking for ways to keep little G interested in color. I had purchased popsicle sticks knowing that I wanted to do something fun with them in the future but we already have so many activities that require slipping something into a bottle or tube that I was at a loss. Being the container-queen that I am, I found an old kleenex box that I had saved for something exactly like this – a DIY craft! And what we are about to make is one of our favorite activities yet.

This project takes a bit of time but is by no means hard to do and like all of my projects, it’s dirt cheap. 🙂 It teaches your kiddo to match colors, explore new textures, organize, count, learn top from bottom (the sticks only fit in one way) and work on their fine motor skills. But honestly, I bet there are a lot more things your little one is learning – patience and perseverance may be a couple of them!

What You’ll Need:

  • An empty Kleenex box
  • Jumbo popsicle sticks
  • Paint
  • Yarn/Ribbon
  • Hot Glue
  • Paper for wrapping your box (think wrapping paper, a gift bag, or a brown paper bag)
  • An Exacto knife
  • Rubber Cement

How To:

  1. Start by drawing a grid on the bottom of your kleenex box.. Because there are 10 colors you’ll eyeball your lines like this..
    1. Divide your box into thirds (approx) lengthwise and draw two lines – these lines become your two main rows – there will be five colors per row. My center gap is larger so my son’s little hands can fit in there.
    2. Then divide your box widthwise – the box in half and then each half in thirds…again just by eyeballing. This creates five lines.POPSICLE SLOTS
    3. Where the lines intersect is where your slots will be. Make your slots a little wider than your popsicle stick and about twice as thick. Don’t be afraid to use one of your sticks as a guide!POPSICLE SLOTS
    4. After outlining where your slots will be, use an Exacto knife to cut them out.POPSICLE SLOTS
  2. Then wrap your box with some gift paper, using hot glue to secure each side of the box down firmly and smoothly. Crease each edge for a more crisp finish and keep the tissue box hole open at the bottom as you will need to get in there later to secure some more stuff.
  3. After your box is covered with paper you will need to use your Exacto knife to essentially re-cut your slots (just through your paper layer this time). However, this time only cut a slit down the center of each slot as you will want to fold the edges back into your box for a nice clean edge (I cut slits from the inside so I could see exactly where I was cutting).
  4. Next, sweep some rubber cement around your holes on the inside of the box and fold the paper flaps down through the slots/secure them. Crease each edge for a more crisp finish.
  5. Turn your box over and paint a color around each slot – I did the six basic colors plus black, brown, and white. POPSICLE SLOTS

Now for your popsicle sticks! You can color them, paint them, or wrap them with yarn. I chose to do the latter to incorporate new textures into the project – I also had a lot of yarn I wanted to use up. I wrote the names of each color on our sticks to help G start to put the color with the word. Just another thing he’s learning!


Once all of this dries you can give it to your kiddo to play with. My little guy loves to carry his box around, smack his sticks together, and work at putting the sticks in their matching color slot! All of this was done for pennies. Don’t you love being thrifty!?

One Last Tip: Our popsicle sticks do slip around a bit (rather than standing straight up) but they don’t fall through the slots because of the bulky yarn around the top. If it bothers you to not have your sticks stay upright, try filling the box with some dry beans and gluing sturdy cardboard to the bottom to seal it up!

What are some tips you found helpful when you did this project? Do you have other ways to sort colors with your toddler? Comment below!

Be sure to check out our straw sorting project and our toddler tube drop for some more ideas similar to this one.

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