5 Alternative Activities for Children Who Like to Peel and Pick at Thi - The Montessori Room
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by Laura Berthiaume February 28, 2022 2 min read

Is your child in a phase where they can't resist peeling things? The wrappers off of crayons, the paint on the wall, the pages of board books, etc

While this interest can be destructive, it can feel very satisfying to the child.

If you can channel that interest into something positive, it's a great way to develop the pincer grip, concentration, and focus.

Here's a couple activities you can offer your child if they have an interest in peeling:
  • Stickers - so many different sizes and types available. The smaller the sticker the more challenging it will be. The stickers can be peeled and placed onto an art piece or placed into dot printables.
    Protip: remove the back of the sticker sheet to make it easier for your child to peel the stickers off independently.
  • Tape - peel painters tape or washi tape off a surface, like the floor, where it won't cause damage. You could also tape toys or animals down for your child to “rescue.”
  • Food - clementines, hard boiled eggs, bananas, or garlic all work well.
  • Ripping lettuce or kale - allow your child to rip pieces of greens into small strips. Bonus, you can use the pieces for a salad.
  • Peeling price tags/stickers off of new products or the labels off of bottles/cans for recycling.


What if your child still can't resist peeling crayons?

Usually once a child discovers that crayons can be broken and wrappers peeled, it can be difficult to redirect their attention elsewhere.

If you’d like to discourage your little one from peeling and breaking the crayons, it's best to buy crayons that either don’t have wrappers or thicker ones that won’t snap as easily.

And if a crayon breaks, that’s okay!

When crayons break, you can:
  • Have a little basket where you keep the pieces that are too small to use. These pieces can be discarded or melted down in silicone molds to make new crayons.
  • Show your child how to peel the paper back a little bit so they can continue using the the broken crayon. Small pieces of crayon invite the child to use their tripod grip (grip used when properly holding pencil) to hold them, further developing fine motor skills!

 What to do with broken crayons

Keeping It All In Perspective

Most behaviours in young children that can seem destructive, are often because of the drive to develop a specific skill or movement.

We're currently putting together a library of posts based on this idea.

Here's the other post we wrote recently:
And just like Montessorians always say "observe the child".
If you closely observe your child, you can usually figure out the motivation behind certain behaviours and what else might satisfy that drive.


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