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Rose Scented Rice Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I know! Life got in the way of creating fabulous blog posts. Lucky for you guys, I made a massive list of posts I wanted to create in my absence, so I have plenty of material waiting to be created. Hopefully there won’t be any more long breaks around here!

Things have changed, we’re in our new house, the new baby is here and we’ve adjusted to all of it! I’m excited to start sharing with you guys again! Since Valentine’s day is fast approaching, I thought I’d kick off blogging again with a great idea for the holiday. This activity had my first-grade niece asking me if I had any more cool creations while she was here the other day it was so much fun, while my 4-year-old nephew and Peanut were elbow deep in it.

Rose Scented Valentine's Day Sensory Bin

Supplies:
*2 bags of uncooked white rice
*Food coloring
*One gallon ziplock bags
*Vinegar
*Rose Absolute Essential Oil
*Various valentine’s day items, such as:
Rose Petals
Felt Roses
-Plastic heart shaped bracelets
-Anything you have around the house that relates to Valentine’s day or roses!

This activity does take some preparation, but it’s worth it in the end! The day before you want to introduce this sensory bin, prepare your rice. It’s simple to do, you just need some time for it to dry or your little ones will end up with fingers dyed the color of your rice.

How to:

1. Select your food coloring. I used one food dye to get the dark pink and light pink in this sensory bin, I just used a different method of dying for both.

2. Dye our rice using one of two methods:

Dying method #1:

Dry Rice Dying Method
Step 1: Add 10-12 drops of food coloring to an empty one gallon ziplock bag.
Step 2: Add one bag of uncooked rice to the ziplock bag.
Step 3: Add 10-20 drops of essential oil and drizzle a bit more food coloring to the top of your rice.
Step 4: Seal the bag and shake until your food coloring & the EO is mixed in and the rice is dyed.
Step 5: Lay the rice out on a cookie sheet or some parchment paper. Spread it out to a thin layer and dry over night.

Dying method #2: To create the lighter color, dye your rice using vinegar.

Vinegar rice dying methodStep 1: Add about a cup of vinegar to an empty one gallon ziplock bag.
Step 2: Add 10-20 drops of food coloring to the vinegar along with 10-20 drops of essential oil. Mix the vinegar until the food coloring is evenly distributed.
Step 3: Add one bag of rice to the ziplock bag. Seal and shake.
Step 4: When the color is evenly distributed, use a fine mesh strainer and drain the rice over the sink. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the excess vinegar can drain off.
Step 5: When the vinegar is drained, spread on a cookie sheet or parchment paper in a thin layer and dry over night. Mix rice up from time to time, if possible, to ensure it drys evenly.

3. When your rice is good and dry, add it to a shallow, long tub. Add your Valentine’s goodies, and let your littles have at it!

Rose Scented Valentine's Sensory Bin

4. Tip: Place your tub on a table cloth so the rice stays a bit more contained. When your kiddos are done playing, gather the rice in the middle of the table cloth and put it back in the sensory bin!

5. When you’re done, the rice can be saved and used again as often as you feel comfortable!

What was said while we played:
Peanut’s vocabulary has exploded since the last time I posted! We talk about all kinds of stuff and she give me all kinds of great responses! When she dove into this activity she kept telling me, “Me having very fun, Mommy!”

I asked her, “What color is the rice?”, “How does it smell?”, “What are you doing with the rice?”, “What else can you do with it?” I also let her ask me questions about what she was playing with. She did ask me what it was when she first started playing. She spent a lot of time repeating the color back while she was playing and also picking up the small roses and telling me what they were, once I had identified them for her.

Powdered Paint Splash Art

Playing in water is a toddler favorite. This process art project is a great way to let your kiddo play in the water while making beautiful art!

Powdered Paint Splash Art

When I set out to find my materials for this activity I got even more excited about giving it a try. I found a line of all natural paints from Glob Colors that I had to get. I placed my order, got my paint, and was ripping into the package while Peanut was down for nap so I could see what it was all about. They smelled delicious, so I couldn’t wait for Peanut to create some art!

Powered Paint Splash Art

Supplies:

Powered Paint Splash Art

I tried this activity two ways with Peanut. The first go around I put a bit of powder in her hand and let her drop it on the paper. I gave her a bit of each color and she flopped down, sometimes spreading it around with her fingers. I made sure she smelled each one, since the Glob paints have some yummy natural smells to them. When she had a bit of each color on her page, I gave her some water and showed her how to drip a bit onto the paper, making the powder turn to paint. She spread the water around a bit, too from time to time, mixing some of the colors together.

Powered Paint Splash Art

The outcome was awesome! It was such a pretty piece of art, especially for toddler process art! Usually I let Peanut create until she feels as though she’s done, but it was so pretty I picked up the paper after she started getting crazy with the water so I could keep the picture. It was way too good to let her ruin it! :)

Powered Paint Splash Art

The next time around, I put the paints in separate containers and showed Peanut how to put a pinch of paint on her paper. She did the same sort of thing; she dropped paint on her paper and spread it around a bit. I did only offer one color at a time since our paints were new (and a bit expensive!) and I didn’t want them mixed up into one crazy color just yet. Once she had a good amount of color on her page, I handed her the water again and let her create until she threatened to ruin her beautiful work.

Powered Paint Splash Art

The second turned out just as good as the first! I’d say having the colors in seperate containers felt a bit more organized and a bit more like Peanut was doing more of the work, but either way works fine.

Vocabulary used in play:
“Open your hand.”
“Hold your palm flat.”
“Sprinkle it on the paper.”
“Take a pinch.”
“Rub it around.”
“Splash the paper.”
“It’s so beautiful!”

I can’t wait to do more with these paints and plan on ordering more of Glob’s products to try out! Not only did they create a great picture, I didn’t have to worry about Peanut messing with nasty chemicals in her art experience. I highly recommend ordering these exact paints for the project!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Simplifying this favorite activity for younger children is a great way to get a toddler-approved activity outside!

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Supplies:
Paper
Crayons

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

I took our bucket of crayons outside with a few sheets of paper and put the paper on the cement. I asked Peanut if she wanted to color and she was more than happy to join me. First we colored on the concrete. Then we moved to the stair, which has some larger bumps. Then we moved to her picnic table and finally the grass.

Outdoor Crayon Rubbings for Toddlers

Peanut always took a minute to figure out why I wanted her to color in these strange places and lingered at the picnic table the longest. And she honestly spent more time dumping the crayons out of their bucket and putting them back in than she did coloring. But, she got the experience and that’s all that matters!

Vocabulary used in play: 
Crayon
Bucket
Paper
“That’s really rough when you color on it, isn’t it?”
“This surface is really bumpy!”
“The table is smooth to color on.”
“The grass is squishy, it’s hard to color on.”
“The rug is soft.”
“The bucket is loud when you drop it!”

This one is so easy and highly engaging! Get out there (in the morning before it gets too hot!) and try this one!

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage

stickybackyardhunt

I thought it was time to break out the Contact Paper again and create some more art. This time I wanted to get Peanut outside while she was creating and have her use nature to make her masterpiece.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

Supplies:
Contact-Paper
Your back Yard
(Optional) Duct Tape

Before we headed outside, I cut a rectangular piece of construction paper and stripped it of it’s backing. It was a pretty windy day, so I started the activity with some toys holding the contact paper down, but as Peanut carried them away a short while later, we didn’t really even need it anyway.

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I took Peanut out into the yard and found a leaf on the ground and pointed it out to her. I helped her pick it up and we took it back to our Contact Paper waiting on the patio for us. I showed her how to stick it down and press it onto the paper. Then I asked her if she wanted to put more on her picture and she took off to find something else. I could tell she was looking for something, but I really had to help her pick out things she could pick up and use on her collage. I’d point them out, she’d pick them up, and I’d direct her back to her collage on the patio. Usually she just threw the treasure down and started to walk away again, so I would remind her to come back and push it down.

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Her favorite thing to add to the collage was flowers she was able to pick fresh off the plant. She went back several times to get more flowers, repeating “flowers!” all the way there and back.

Sticky Backyard Hunt Collage for Toddlers

She didn’t get tons on her collage before she was done and wanted to get in the sand box…but I think it’s beautiful! I added another sheet of contact paper to the back when we got inside and had to reinforce the edges with duct tape because of the rather large stick she added. When it was complete, I had her help me hang it on the fridge where she could look at it. To my surprise, when Daddy got home that night she ran right over to get it off the fridge and show him. :)

Vocabulary we used while playing:
Outside
Sticky
Leaf
Stick
Flower
brown
Yellow
Green
White

 

Homemade Shoebox Guitar

Homemade Rubber Band GuitarKids love to make music. So, finding different ways to let Peanut explore music has been important to me since she started interacting with toys. Buying a million different instrument toys can get expensive (unless you score them from the Target dollar section, and I do suggest checking there often)! Making them yourself is easy, your little one can get involved, and when they toss it to the side after a couple of days you’re not left wondering if you can return it.

This is probably an idea you’ve seen before or done yourself when you were a kid. We all need reminders of some of the best simple play ideas! I know you have the stuff you need to make this craft in your house now, so you can do this tomorrow with no trouble at all!

Supplies
Rubber bands, preferably in a variety of thicknesses
A shoebox (or any type of box rubber bands would fit around)
Optional supplies: Washable markers, stickers, or other decorations

Homemade Rubber Band Guitar

Since we just emptied our house of anything excessive to put it on the market, I was actually all out of shoeboxes. I thought about using a Tupperware box, but was worried about the rubber bands fitting around the box. I ended up using a cardboard box we use to store Peanut’s hair clips that I could borrow for a bit.

Homemade Rubber Band Guitar

If you happen to have an extra shoebox lying around that doesn’t have to be used for a different purpose again later, let your little one decorate their guitar before you put the “strings” on. When they’re done, simply stretch the rubber bands over the box. When your box is assembled, hand it to your kiddo, give it a strum and watch them make beautiful music.

Really, it’s that easy! Peanut carried her guitar around with her for a good long while before ditching it for a snack. :)

Water Books…a must have!

Water books, a must have!

This was one of those finds that I am beyond excited about. Peanut is a colorer. She would color all day every day if I would let her. She sees a crayon, marker, pen, pencil, or any type of writing utensil and she is immediately asking to color. Unfortunately she’s speaking her first sentence and it’s “I want…” and it’s really hard to resist when she says, “I want color.” Water books are my solution to this problem without having to worry about Peanut coloring all over everything with crayons and markers.

Water books are these amazing reusable books that fill in with a water brush. The one we have comes with its own brush that is stored right in the cover. It’s made by (the ever fabulous) Melissa and Doug. Your little one simply colors over the picture with the water and it fills in with color. Amazing. No mess, no crayons to melt in the car, no crayons to eat, no worrying about the colors getting on anything other than the paper.

I bought mine on Amazon because I figured no one in town would have them, but then a few days later I found our local children’s museum had a bunch of them. So, once you know what to look for, keep an eye out for them and you might discover that they’ve been under your nose and you just didn’t know how awesome they were!

Right now, Peanut isn’t really interested in WHAT she is coloring, just that she IS coloring. Again, it’s the process for toddlers and not the product. So, for now having one book on hand is enough for us. If you have a toddler, I’d stick to buying one book. Don’t go buying a library of them until the little one is a bit older and actually cares what the pictures are.

Water books, a must have!

These would be great for road trips, restaurants, to keep in the diaper bag for those time when you just need something to entertain the kiddos. I love them!

DIY Noise Maker for Toddlers and Babies

Toddlers and babies alike love to make noise. A sound can stop them in their tracks to investigate where the noise came from. This DIY noise maker is great for nearly any age, but particularly those babies and toddlers.

noisemakersfortoddlerandbaby

Supplies:
2 plastic cups, preferably clear
stickers
duct tape, in a fun color!
beans or beads

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If you’re creating this for a baby, skip the decorating steps and go straight to the adults only part of the project. If this noise maker is for a toddler, the first part is half the fun!

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Present the cups and stickers to your kiddo. Peanut needed me to show her how to put the stickers on and also needed my help to get the sticker started peeling off the sheet. We worked on grabbing the sticker sheet with one hand and getting a sticker with the other and you could tell she felt like a big girl getting those stickers with only a little help from mom. Then, I had to remind her what she was supposed to do with the sticker nearly every time. But, she enjoyed sticking the stickers everywhere on her cup. We ended up with several inside the cup to flop around with her beans. When she seemed like she was not interested in decorating anymore came my part.

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I added some dried lima beans to the cup, letting Peanut see what I was doing and play with a few of the beads. I stacked the cups lip to lip and wrapped the duct tape around the cups several times. This is the most important part, and why this is the part I recommend an adult takes over. If there isn’t enough tape or the tape isn’t secure, beans will be flying everywhere in no time.

noisemakers

With the beans securely taped inside the cup, I handed Peanut her creation and the shaking began. I asked her if she wanted down from her chair and she was so enthralled with shaking that she just stayed put. She shook like crazy with both hands, figured out how to tip it back and forth, tried it with one had. She had so much fun…and went right back to it this morning when she found it on her toy shelf.

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I like this project for several reasons. 1) it works on fine motor skills (putting the stickers on) and gross motor skills (shaking), 2) it’s a project where Peanut got to create something and there isn’t any mess to clean up 3) it can grow with her. When she’s older I can let her select what she wants to put in the cups to discover how those objects sound compared to the beans. I can also increase the difficulty of the decorating to work on different fine motor skills as she grows. It’s a great, fast project!

All Natural Scented Homemade Play Dough

allnaturalscentedplaydough

I have a confession. I’ve never let Peanut play with play dough before this. I was always afraid she’d eat it…well, I was right, so I was glad I remembered this recipe for DIY play dough from my preschool teaching days. It took me a while to get around to making it wondering if most of it would get ingested or if Peanut would actually play with it. But, I finally did it!

Supplies:

1.5 cups boiling water
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
a few drops lemon oil
2 tablespoons oil, extra if dough is crumbly
20-30 drops lemon essential oil or essential oil of your choice
A big bowl
metal spoon
play dough toys or old kitchen utensils, safe for toddlers of course!

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Start by boiling your water. Mix flour, salt, oil, and essential oil in a large mixing bowl with the metal spoon. When the water is boiling, add it to the mixture and mix with the spoon until the dough is cool enough to knead. Knead with your hands until it becomes smooth, soft, and pliable. Add a splash of oil or water if the dough seems crumbly. Knead that in for a while before adding more, if needed. You can also add more essential oil if the fragrance is not strong enough for your taste.

All Natural Homemade Play Dough

Then, set dough on the counter in a large ball for 2-3 minutes to cool a big longer. Set up your play place and play dough toys during this time. When the dough is cool enough for your toddler to play with, let them have at it.

All Natural Scented Homemade Play dough

Peanut particularly liked sticking things in the dough. I had to really prompt her to squeeze or squish the dough, but she stuck just about every toy in front of her into the dough all by herself. We talked about squishy, squeeze, sticky and how it was something to play with not to eat. :) I also encouraged her to smell it, carefully, since she sticks things she’s smelling very close to her nose.

All Natural Scented Homemade Play dough

When play time is over, store the play dough in a plastic bag. When you go to play the next time, if it’s a bit dry, wet down your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes and it should come back to life. You’ll know when the dough has reached the end of its life when it is very crumbly and can’t be revived with a bit of water.

Sidewalk Chalk and Water Fun

It’s really starting to get hot around here, even in the mornings. Peanut cannot be outside long with out needed to cool down. So, adding a bit of water play to coloring with sidewalk chalk did just the trick.

Side Walk Chalk and Water Play

Supplies:
sidewalk chalk
toddler-sized watering can
water

sidewalk chalk supplies

Peanut LOVES to color. She talks about it all the time, so the first time we introduced sidewalk chalk, she was beyond excited. Now she’ll dig through her outside toy bucket to find the sidewalk chalk skipping over all the balls, sand toys, and shovels.

sidewalk chalk

Most toddlers will easily be able to scribble on the sidewalk and enjoy seeing the marks they make. Obviously, coloring away is a fun activity and is great when you need to work outside and need your pumpkin occupied. But, sidewalk chalk is really easy to incorporate learning into if you are free to sit down with your little one and color, too.

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You can talk about colors, letters, their name, your name, their siblings names, the dog’s name, any word you want! I can’t stress how important name recognition is. As early as preschool, a child being able to pick out their own name from the crowd can be a valuable skill. Write their name in the list of family members and help them find their own. Write it a million times on the sidewalk. Just let them see their name! It can also be helpful if they can simply find the first letter of their name. It’s never to early to start showing a child their name and helping them figure out what it looks like.

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When we were finished with all of our coloring fun and Peanut was starting to get rosy red cheeks and a sweaty forehead, we broke out the water. I filled her watering can and showed her how her marks disappeared when she poured the water over them. She was more interested in playing with the water than the actual erasing of the sidewalk chalk, but none the less she was still involved with the clean up and helped me get my patio back to normal.

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Here are my words of warning for this activity: Peanut ended up soaking wet. Pouring out of the spout of the watering can rather than dumping it upside down is a skill we’re going to have to continue to work on. 😉

Tissue Paper Art

Peanut loved this activity. Mommy loved this activity, too. It was simple to set up, Peanut kept coming back to it throughout the day, and clean up was easy.

tissuepaperartfortoddlers.jpg

Supplies
1 inch tissue paper squares (can be purchased here)
clear contact paper
painters tape or similar that will easily come off the window

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Prepare a few supplies ahead of time if you don’t want an anxious toddler pulling at you while you get ready. Cut out a fun shape from the contact paper. I suggest either cutting a symmetrical shape or cutting two of the same shape, that way you can fold the shape in half when your toddler is done creating because they likely will not cover all of the contact paper. Find a container to hold your tissue paper squares and mix the colors up in your container. I picked a small shopping bag, because Peanut loves shopping bags. Then, tape your shape securely to a low window or glass door.

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As you can tell, our dog was curious as to what we were doing as well. :) Once you’re all set up, bring your toddler over and show them what do. It took one square before Peanut caught on and started sticking squares on her own. If your toddler has trouble, take their hand and help them stick and square or two on the contact paper and they should get the hang of it.

tissue paper art close up

Stay with your toddler and talk to them about what they are experiencing. The easiest thing to talk about during this project is color. They use a lot of different colors and can experience them with the light behind the tissue paper. We also talked about how the contact paper was sticky and the tissue paper crinkled. You can also bring shapes into the mix and describe the shape of the contact paper and the tissue paper.

tissue on the floor

Peanut ended up spilling a lot of the squares on to the floor which made it easier for her to pick up individual squares. Several times she tried to stick squares to the glass itself and thought it was funny when they fell right off.

When she had enough, I decided to leave her art on the backdoor to see if she wanted to create again later. Sure enough, that afternoon she started asking for more and then spent more time on her master piece.

Remember, projects like these are all about the process, not the product. You might want to show off beautiful art work by your very own professional artist, but it’s much better for toddlers to have unstructured art projects where the doing is the emphasis!

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