Tinfoil for Toddlers: Discovery at Home Toddler Time

What you need:

  • Box of aluminum foil
  • Glue
  • Cardboard or paper


  1. First, ask your toddler to tear the foil into little pieces and place them in a bowl. It will be a multi-sensory experience as your toddler explores sight, sound, and texture.
  2. Next, what happens when they blow into the bowl? Watch the light, shimmery foil fly. Ask your toddler to pick up the pieces and put them back into the bowl. This can become a game in itself!
  3. Finally, ask your toddler to squeeze (or rub) the glue onto the page wherever they choose and press on the tinfoil pieces. What simple, fine motor fun! The focus is pure process. The final product is secondary. As an adult, we may be tempted to tell our child where to add or subtract a piece. Don’t do it! Pure process means to let go and let them experiment, learning as they go.

Ways to expand the activity:

  • Your child may be tempted to touch the wet glue. What a great way to learn about cause and effect: fingers get sticky!
  • As they learned that foil is light weight, they may be tempted to grab a handful of foil, rather than a single piece, and drop it from high above the page. Some will land on the glue, others will not. What happens when they squeeze the foil? Some bits will flatten, scrunch and stick together in a clump. Do clumps stick well to the page and to the glue?
  • Is the glue drying quickly or can the pieces slide on the page as they are repositioned?
  • Tightly wrap small, familiar items to emphasize their shape (like a block or a ball) Cover completely with foil. Play the guess the object game! Unwrap to see if they are right!

What do they learn?

  • Fine motor control. They are developing finger and wrist strength whether they use pincer grasp to pick up a single piece of foil or scrunch, bend, pinch and pull a larger sheet using both hands.
  • They explore the properties and characteristics of foil: it is silver, shiny, lightweight, it tears, floats, sticks to itself and can be molded. Analyzing materials builds a great foundation for learning science!
  • They learn how to tear. Put thumbs touching and fingers pressing the foil. One hand pulls toward the belly button, and one pulls away from the bellybutton.
  • Object permanence. An item may be out of sight or covered, but it still exists! What 3-D object is hiding beneath the foil? Guess, unwrap and discover!