Archive of ‘Sensory’ category

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.

Pretend Play: Sandbox Garden

While walking through the dollar store, I came across their floral department and wondered what I could do with some of their brightly colored silk flowers. At first I thought about a sensory box, but then thought it would be much better to get outside for the activity and take the “gardening” to the sandbox!

Pretend Play for Toddlers: Gardening in the Sandbox

 Supplies:

  • Silk flowers in a variety of colors
  • Watering can
  • Kid-friendly hand hoe
  • Kid-friendly spade
  • Plastic flower pots
  • Any other kid-friendly gardening tools you have on hand

I stuck the flowers in her sandbox, tossed in the tools, and called Peanut over (not that she hadn’t spotted the fun and was headed over already). She dug right in with the tools, but didn’t show much interest in the flowers. In fact, she really only played with the flowers for a few minutes. She mostly focused on digging with the shovel and the hoe. She also enjoyed filling the flower pots, scooping sand into them, dumping them out, and starting all over again.

Pretend Play for Toddlers: Gardening in the Sandbox

I have to admit…she probably didn’t know what to do with the flowers because Mommy is terrible at growing flowers and we don’t have many around our yard. She sees flowers as pretty things you smell when you’re in a park! :/ I really need to work on that skill. Haha!

What we talked about during play:
“Look at the pretty flowers!”
“You sure are good at filling that flower pot.”
“Can you put the flower in the flower pot?”
“What are you planting?”
“Did you find any seeds?”
“I see that you dug a hole. That’s a big hole!”

Keeping these supplies in the sandbox for a few days is easy and your kiddo will love it. It’s a change from the normal sandbox toys that take up all the real estate in the box that provide a chance for your toddler to be like you and garden away.

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Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

There’s just something relaxing about playing with rice. I used to catch myself playing in our rice bins while teaching preschool, just because I enjoyed it. Adding lavender essential oil to your died rice creates an even more relaxing sensory activity.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

Supplies:

  • 2-3 standard sized bags of white rice
  • 2.5 gallon Ziploc bag
  • Purple food coloring
  • 20-30 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Sea shells
  • A small, cloth bag
  • Bin for playing in

The night before you want to do this activity, die and scent your rice. It’s very simple: put all of the rice in a large Ziploc bag, add a generous amount of food coloring, zip the bag, and shake up the rice to distribute the food coloring. If you didn’t reach the desired color you wanted, add more food coloring and mix again. When your rice is the desired color, add 20-30 drops of lavender essential oil and mix the rice again. When everything was mixed in, I opened the Ziploc bag and let it dry over night. The next morning, I dumped the rice into our sensory bin and added the sea shells and cloth bag.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

I presented the bin to Peanut on our laminate floors, incase some of the rice found it’s way out of the bin (which it did). At first she poked around at the rice for a while. Then, I showed her she could burry the shells in the rice and she began copying what I was doing. Eventually I showed her how she could take a hand full of rice and fill the bag or scoop up some rice with the shells to fill the bag.

Relaxing Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

We squished the bag when it was full of rice, smelled the rice in the bin and bag. We talked about what color the rice was. After a little while, I just let Peanut play and relax with the scent and feel of the rice. She played quietly for quite a while, only becoming disturbed when she accidentally discovered the fun sound the rice made when it hit the laminate floor. Then I decided play time was up.

What we talked about: 
“Does that feel soft?”
“There are lots of little pieces, aren’t there?”
“It sounds nice when you mix it.”
“That smells delicious.”
“The bag is squishy.”
“That’s a shell. Can you find the one I buried?”

This is a great sensory bin to keep around for a late-night play experience. The lavender essential oil can calm a crabby kiddo down no time and get them ready for peaceful sleep. Keep your Ziploc bag you mixed your rice in to store the rice when not in use. Dyed rice is definitely not a one-time-only use sensory bin filler. Use it again and again!

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!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

Peanut LOVES to dance. Recently I caught her dancing to the noise of hammering. So, I’ve been trying to think of new things we could do with her obsession of dancing. She already danced to all kinds of music and we do our best to teach her some new moves…finally, it hit me…let’s dance on stuff!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

Supplies: 

  • Sand paper
  • blanket
  • felt
  • magazine or paper
  • shaggy rug or scratch rug
  • Damp towel
  • Changing pad or pillow
  • Any other fabrics or materials you have on hand that won’t hurt little feet!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

I set out our textures out on the floor near each other. Then, I turned the music on and we jammed! Peanut started busting moves right away and I had to bring her attention to the fact that she was dancing ON something. She’d get so busy dancing she wouldn’t move from one texture to another, it was like the texture she was on was her stage and she had to stand there!

Toddler Texture Dance Party

When I would encourage her to move to a new texture, she’d move and then stand there for a few seconds figuring out what was under her feet before she picked up dancing again. She enjoyed the most foreign textures (sand paper, the wet towel) the most and would stomp away.

Toddler Texture Dance Party

She spent a long time sitting on her changing pad (still dancing). She picked up the towel to fling around while she danced for a while. It was fun to watch her experience the different textures under her feet and see how she felt they needed to be incorporated into her dancing.

Toddler Texture Dance Party

The dancing continued for a while, until I think it hit her where the changing pad came from and she picked it up and carried it back to her room to put it away. Oh, my neat and tidy little Peanut.

Vocabulary used in play:

  • “What is that under your feet?”
  • “Is that scratchy?”
  • “That’s fuzzy, isn’t it?”
  • “Wow, you’re really moving those arms!”
  • “Keep boogying!”
  • “Oh, is that wet and cold?”
  • “Are you swinging the towel?”

All day I’ve had more ideas about what we could dance on next time: plastic wrap, a table cloth, a comforter, nearly anything!

2 Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

My inspiration for this activity came from Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine through this post.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

My un-messy Peanut had no problems doing this activity inside on the mess mat (a cheap plastic table cloth) with a tub to keep the dough contained.  I also suited her up in her long sleeved smock so we wouldn’t have to change outfits or worry about the oil staining her clothing when she was all done. If your little one tends to really get into messy play, it might be a good idea to take it outside.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

“Are you sure you want me to touch this stuff, Mom?”

Peanut ran right over when I placed the tub of dough on her mess mat. She touched it right away and then looked at me or reassurance. Once I got her really digging into it, she loved it. She kept saying, “ooo” when she touched it and liked the way she could flip it around.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

We haven’t had many sensory activities similar to this were we could talk about soft, so I really emphasized that the dough was soft. She liked that word and has been repeating it all day.

Two Ingredient Cloud Dough for Toddlers

I didn’t add any toys, spoons, or other utensils to this activity today. Since it’s our first experience with it, I just let her play. Toys and tools can be added later, after she’s had time to play with the dough itself.

Vocabulary used while we played:
“This dough is so soft!”
“Wow, it’s so fluffy!”
“It feels like a cloud.”
“You’re flipping it everywhere!”
“Mix it up!”
“Is it on your hands?”
“Touch it.”
“Boy, that is messy!”

The original poster said that she doesn’t replace her dough for months, so this is an activity you can come back to again and again!

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!

Sandbox Play with Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play for Toddlers

Peanut loves to watch me cook in the kitchen. I know she wants to help so badly, but there aren’t a lot of tasks she can do yet to really get her helping. I wanted to create a play activity where she could explore some of the utensils she saw me using in the kitchen. Combining her love for the sandbox and some old kitchen utensils made an activity she didn’t want to give up.

Supplies:
A variety of old (toddler-friendly) kitchen utensils or grab some from the dollar store
A sandbox full of sand

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

When I collected my utensils, I tried to keep in mind what she’d be doing with the tools. I wanted thing she could use to dig, pour, sift, and manipulate the sand. I also wanted her to be able to use the tools as they were designed in the kitchen, as though she was cooking. Peanut ended up with a sugar shaker, measuring cup, wooden spoon, whisk, and ____________.

Kitchen Utensil Sandbox Play

We came outside and I simply tossed the kitchen utensils in the sandbox and she was off and running. I named each item and showed her a brief model of how to use it if she wasn’t quite sure. Once she had the stuff figured out, she was done with me! She’s such an independent player! She dug and mixed and cooked until I decided it was too hot to stay out much longer. Then, I just tossed the kitchen utensils in her outdoor bucket to play with again later!

Tool Band for Toddlers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I had the idea for this activity when my parents were in town. My dad had Kennedy outside helping him with the garage sale while my mom and I were inside painting trim. I heard some ridiculously loud banging and shrieks of excitement outside and and to go investigate. That’s when I discovered Papa and Kennedy banging away on some extra tools we had for sale. I couldn’t believe how long I heard the commotion going on and couldn’t wait to play some music with her again.

Supplies:
A variety of relatively clean, toddler-safe tools such as sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers

Tool Band for Toddlers

I love wrench sets for this activity because they provide such a musical aspect to the play. With each increase in size, the sound it makes changes leaving your toddler crazily switching back and forth between wrenches to see what sound they make.

We did this activity inside today because it was getting too hot outside to stay out for very long. Really, it’s best done outside on concrete where the ground can help become part of the instruments. I wouldn’t do this activity on any hard flooring inside unless you want your next major project to be reflooring!
Be sure the tools aren’t too heavy for your kiddo so you don’t end up with any squished fingers…and be careful they’re not getting used as weapons!Since we were inside I had peanut banging all the tools together to make all kinds of fun sounds. She loved exploring the different sounds she could make. While she was outside with my dad the last time she played tool band, they were banging tools on the ground, dropping them, rolling them, and seeing how many different ways they could make sounds. It was so much fun! While you can still play inside, outside is just much better!

Vocabulary:
tool
band
music
loud
soft
drop
hit

Wet Oats and Noodles Sensory Play

Wet Oats and Pasta Sensory activity for toddlers

This post from Fun-A-Day! was the inspiration for this activity. While the activity on her blog looked super fun, we went a little more simple for our toddler sensory activity.

Wet Oats & Pasta Sensory Activity for Toddlers

Supplies:
Old-Fashioned Oats
Dry noodles of any variety (we used macaroni)
1-3 spoons
A medium-large sized bowl
table cloth (if you’re doing the activity inside and want to contain the mess)
Recommended: a long sleeved art smock

This messy sensory activity was very easy to set up! If you need a quick, engaging activity where you don’t mind a big clean up, this one is great in a pinch since you probably already have the supplies in your pantry.

Wet Oats & Pasta Sensory Activity for Toddlers

I dumped a couple of cups of oats and some noodles into a bowl and added some water. I let the mess sit for a few minutes so the oats could soak up the water. At first I hadn’t added enough water and the oats were still pretty dry. I just added more and waited a couple of more minutes. When my mixture was right I set out the spoons and the bowl of “mush” on the table cloth and suited Peanut up in her smock.

Wet Oats & Pasta Sensory Activity for Toddlers

Oh, Peanut and her inability to get messy. She touched it once, looked at me with her hand in the air and said, “Yucky.” So, I showed her how to use the spoons to play with it instead. We mixed and stirred and folded the “mush” and eventually she got so caught up in it she forgot how yucky it was and started using her hands.

Wet Oats & Pasta Sensory Activity for Toddlers

Vocabulary we used while playing:
sticky
mushy
wet
hard
stir
mix
fold
bowl
spoon
spatula
messy

When she decided she was done, there was quite a mess on her and the table cloth. Here’s my hint for clean up: wash the smock right away but leave the table cloth to dry out. When it’s try, the big chunks shake right off and you can wipe the rest clean.

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