Age level: 1.5 through 6.
Take different sized Jars and Containers with lids, put them on a tray or basket, and offer this simple activity to your classroom. Step by step, show the children how to open the jars and containers and then show them how to put the lids back on each one. When putting the lids back on, it helps to have one hand holding the jar down and the other hand twisting or pressing the cap down. This is great for children's fine motor skills and they really enjoy these simple kinds of work.
This was a lesson that I came across while studying and teaching the Montessori Approach. The idea was presented and got me thinking of some extended ways to keep it fresh:
Rotate the containers and jars and present them in different ways to spark new interest. Remove or keep the labels on recycled jars, or create your own labels, perhaps to teach about colors. In addition, you can have an item in each Jar that the child may take out and play with before putting the object back in. For example, a block or a couple Legos can be placed in each jar for the child to build with before putting them back in the jars. To teach children about color, color coordinate the jar labels to the colors of blocks or Legos. For children ages 2 through 4, it might be best to keep the work simple as the more steps they have the harder it is to remember and to follow through. Older children from ages 4 and up might enjoy more steps to work. You could incorporate language by labeling each jar with a letter from the alphabet and add small objects in each jar that begin with that particular letter. The child may take out each object and play with them, and when it is time to clean up the items, that child will be challenged to think about which letter each object begins with.
I suggest keeping it simple and starting with the easiest types of containers for the young children to simply gain the concept of putting lids on. Later, you can always add more jars and containers that are a little trickier to put back on, followed by any extensions that will challenge them.