Gumdrops are colorful, sugary and bite-sized – a definite kid-pleasing combo. Instead of begging or cajoling your preschooler or toddler to do something, turn his frown upside down by incorporating these little candies. Use them to excite a bored youngster or entice a stubborn one. Their versatile size, shape and color make them perfect for a variety of activities.

## Holiday Gumdrops

It will require a smidge of supervision, but your child can create a holiday gumdrop tree for you to proudly display. Keep your expectations low, Martha Stewart: You’ll need to keep things simple for your little one. Start with a foam tree form, toothpicks and seasonally colored gumdrops – red and green at Christmas or red and white at Valentine’s Day, for example. Your preschooler will be able to attach the gumdrops to the tree form with toothpicks under minimal supervision. However, keep a close eye on your toddler. For him, attach gumdrops to the toothpicks in advance, and help him stick the gumdrops to the tree.

## Gumdrop Math

Candy + math = good Mom sense. Using gumdrops can make counting and creating patterns seem like a game to your preschooler. Dump a handful onto a table and ask her to group them by color, counting each color group. She can also create patterns with the gumdrops – two red, followed by a green, followed by two more red, for example. Let your toddler begin to sort the gumdrops by color, counting out loud for her how many are in each group. For example, say, “You have three green ones and two yellow ones.” Then encourage her to recognize the difference between two and three by asking, “Where are two gumdrops?” and “Where are three?”

## Gumdrop Letters

If your preschooler runs screaming each time you mention the ABCs, entice him to practice “writing” his letters by creating their shapes with gumdrops. Let him begin by using gumdrops to form the shapes of simple letters, such as C, O, T and L. If he's very familiar with his letters, challenge him to form more complex letters, such as G, E, K or W. He might even be able to spell his name with gumdrops. Introduce your toddler to the alphabet by drawing large capital letters on paper. Ask him to outline the letters with gumdrops, repeating each letter's name as he shapes it.

## Gumdrop Chore Reward

Don’t think of gumdrops as a bribe for completing chores ... think of them as motivation! Snag your toddler or preschooler’s interest by setting a clear plastic container at eye level. Each time she completes an age-appropriate chore, let her put a gumdrop in the container. Your toddler can pick up toys, put shoes in the closet or feed the cat. Teach a preschooler to set the table, dust non-breakables and help you make beds. Award her one gumdrop from the container for each chore completed. The pay-off should come at a regularly scheduled time, such as the end of the week.

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