Five Ways To Use Ribbon In Play Based Learning

12 September 2016

I had a pile of ribbon and not many ideas on how to use it. We tried weaving and made some ribbon wands then my usual inspiration searches on Instagram and Pintrest dried up. So I got to thinking…

Five Ways To Use Ribbon In Play Based Learning (1)

I’ve tried to include ideas to suit all my boys who age from 11months to 4years. They all have very different capabilities but Ribbon is safe to mouth, tactile and colourful and they have all enjoyed using it.

1.Tub Tug

Tub Tug - Ribbon use (1)

One for baby. In the same vein as emptying the tissue box this activity satisfies their need to pull and tug and empty containers! I used an empty Ella’s Kitchen puff tub with a slit cut in the top.

You could use any plastic bottle. I find this type of tub is easier for baby to hold though due to its narrow centre.

Eventually baby can learn to stuff the ribbon back into the container but for now 2yo seems to enjoy that task!

At first I held the container while baby pulled the ribbon but as he grows he is starting to use two hands for the activity and hold the tub himself.

2.Rainbow Tug

rainbow with ribbons

Baby loves Velcro! Pulling apart things that are stuck together is great for strengthening hand muscles and practising grip.

This rainbow board I made from coloured card strips glued down onto shoe box lid. Laminating adds extra strength and longevity.

I then cut ribbons that were at least half a length longer in corresponding colours.

I applied Velcro dots at various points down the strips.

Stick the ribbon using the dots and adding folds to assist grip.

You can hold this while baby grips or you could utilise the rest of the shoebox by weighing it down with a bag of flour and sealing the lid. Once he got to pulling the box lid was very mobile!

3.Bow Board 

ribbon for bow board

Making a simple board of bows has appealed to all three boys. Baby and 2yo are really satisfied pulling an end to untie them and 4yo is making slow steps to tying knots.

This activity will grow with them to aid shoe tying eventually.

I used a shoe box lid and a screwdriver to make the holes. Securing the ribbons on the underside with tape or glue helps keep the ribbons in place when untied.

4.Seasons Threading

Seasons Threading - ribbon use (1)

This just uses threading onto ribbon as a starting point but I thought to add an educational theme.

4 lengths of ribbon are required, secured with tape at the ends, or buttons if you prefer and want to add extra fine motor challenge.

These are felt and foam shapes that I had lying around for a different activity but you can cheaply buy felt or foam sheets and cut your own. Alternatively use card to draw/print the images and laminate to make durable pieces. As long as there is a slit cut they can be threaded.

Each ribbon has a season and the correct felt shapes (leaves/ flowers/ snowflakes) are threaded on. I gave the boys a basket of mixed shapes to discriminate and discussed which ribbon colour suited the season best.

Sorting, selection, discrimination, finger muscle work, colour, and a discussion on the seasons all in one go!

5.Velcro Hoops

Velcro Hoops - ribbon use (1)

Velcro is the simplest starting point for introducing fastenings before buttons, zips and lacing. This suited both my eldest boys, 2yo loved sticking and unsticking and making ‘circles’ and 4yo was able to discuss the scale element and fasten accurately.

I just glued ribbon pieces to the coloured background and added Velcro. I then made a series of coordinated ribbon hoops (or ‘bracelets’ according to the boys) that could be attached, then varied the sizes to add discussion on scale and size.


  1. So many amazing ideas! Thank you for sharing. Will be trying them out n the near future!

  2. Wow ! You’ve gone cap crazy and I love it! How on warmth do you find the time to do all this ??? I’ll drop my two little ones over for a cap session soon shall I ?
    Xx Rita

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