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Dump and Pick Up

Bite-sized brain snacks for Chicago’s early learners.


Dumping out a basket and filling it back up again is a fun game that helps with hand-eye coordination. Sit with your child and empty a small basket of toys. Work together with your baby to refill it. Your baby just might want to do it over and over again!

Why It's Important

Every opportunity your child has to use the small muscles of their hands and fingers increases strength and coordination. Writing, feeding oneself, and getting dressed are all tasks that will require this kind of strength and coordination.


Talk with your child as you play this game. Use words like "full," "empty," "out," and "in." You might show your child the basket full of toys and say, "All the toys are in the basket." Then dump them out as you say, "Now they are out of the basket." Have your child repeat the words "out" and "in" as you dump and pick up the toys.

Not Ready Yet

Limit the number of toys in the basket so that your child can complete the activity faster. Start with just 3 or 4 toys that you dump out and pick up. Make sure to get excited about the game and have fun doing it.

Need a Challenge

Add some sorting practice into this game. Encourage your child to put all of one color or shape toy into the basket first. Then select another color or shape to pick up. Continue until all the toys are back in the basket, and dump it out to play again!

Book Recommendations:

"Where do Diggers Sleep at Night?" by Brianna Caplan Sayres

Extend the learning:

Create your own shape and size sorter. Take an old shoe box and cut two or three different sized and shaped holes into the top. Give your child some toys that are big and small enough to fit in one of the holes and work together to fill up the box.