I’ve posted about sensory bins before (No Mess Sensory Bin) but now that my youngest daughter is older we are re-visiting a lot of the same activities that I did with my first daughter. My oldest is enjoying everything again too.
For this sensory bin I just threw in a lot of small items and spoons to practice scooping and pouring. There’s smooth gems, and puffy cotton balls, etc. Throwing in some scented objects (like the tea tree oil toothpick container) is fun too. I save all tiny random objects around the house (like nuts and bolts and twist ties, for example) to switch out. Keeps them entertained in different ways for a quite a while!
My almost-three-year-old could cut paper all day long. One of my favorite items I’ve found at the Dollar Tree are these children’s scissors. I initially thought they were cheap and would break right away but they’ve held up so well I went and bought more. They aren’t sharp enough to really cause an injury but I always make sure my kids are sitting while using them. They work best cutting construction or thicker types of paper.
In an old post I mentioned that I save their old drawings and scribbles so that they can recycle that paper for cutting practice instead of wasting it. Cutting is really fun and even a two-year-old isn’t too young to begin with close adult supervision. They get a huge kick out of it and feel so proud of themselves at that age.
I have been wanting to try this activity out with my almost-four-year-old for some time now, either with salt or cornmeal. I am really glad we did! Basically, get a shallow tray and fill just enough with salt to create a thin layer. Then practice! To erase just shake the tray gently.
In the above photo she is practicing an “F”. Writing in the sand doesn’t always produce a perfect looking letter no matter how precise you try to write it. It’s a fun way to get your kid to practice though!
And my daughter would have fun just drawing in it too. She would often turn away from me and lick the salt off her fingers… as if I didn’t know what she was doing!
For this fun little project I actually recycled some cardstock scraps. Initially, I had been cutting out random preschool printables and almost threw away the scraps, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! I’m glad I didn’t, too, because my daughter absolutely loved making these bookmarks.
First, we color and drew on strips of the cardstock (as you can see below):
Afterwards, I had her punch holes at the top of each bookmark, and she loved it:
And finally, we cut strips of yarn and tied them through the holes! Here’s a few examples of my daughter’s bookmark creations:
This DIY bookmark craft project turned out to be a winner. It was super fun, didn’t cost us a thing (because we recycled paper and had the rest of the materials already), and the bookmarks will make fantastic gifts (not to mention they will make fantastic bookmarks). 😉
Here’s an activity that resonates with the phrase “less is more”. Basically, I set three picture cards in one side of the tray, and three words that correspond with the pictures on the other side. In the middle are three cups in which to place each match. Anyway, I was tempted at first to try and have my daughter match all of the dozens of cards at once, but she would have quickly become overwhelmed and disinterested. Having only 3 cards that need matching allows her to quickly do the activity and get practice all by herself! I told her that each day I will rotate which cards need to be matched. A fun and easy daily activity.
This activity utilizes printables from the Montessori Print Shop. I purchased the Montessori At Home eBook from there, and it was quite a deal.
I’ve seen really neat sensory bins and tubs all over the internet. In fact, we have had fun with our rice sensory bin and sand activity many times. However, the idea behind this one is that it does NOT take me 15 minutes to vacuum up hundreds of pieces of rice or piles of sand afterwards. Sometimes I am simply too exhausted to get out messy activities! So, with that said, this sensory bin I can have right on her shelf and she can play with the random stuff whenever she likes.
In the bin are a package of glass “gems” found at the dollar store. I also have used these in our ABC bingo game. Also, I threw in some scoops and measuring spoons. The rest of the objects are random tiny things that I have been storing away for the past year in order to keep my 15 month old from choking on. In the photo above she is using two different scoops to transfer objects, so this is great “practical life” practice as well!
Above, my daughter is using her mini pink flashlight to examine coins and things. If you’re wondering what that glowing thing in the photo at the top of this post is all about, it is actually her shining her flash light through one of the glass gems!
Another point of interest is that I threw in an old container that originally contained cinnamon toothpicks. She gets a kick out of smelling it. I bet I could find other fragrant things to add next time. Coffee beans?
I would love to hear other ideas! Thanks for reading.
Sometimes painting on paper gets old for a preschooler, I’m afraid to say. So, we have to spice up the activity a bit! I found a couple of wooden boxes at Target for 3 dollars. My first intention was to use them as-is for activity trays, but as they just sat around empty I realized maybe I could spare one for an art project. I said, “Hey, you wanna paint a box?” My daughter was all for it.
Once the paint dries I will let her have at it with glue and sequins and glitter and whatever else I find laying around. I might not want to use it as a decorative piece when she’s done, but she’ll sure have fun. 😉
Also, this project got me to thinking that I could probably let her paint other unconventional things and objects for fun: plastic bottles, tin cans, and the sky is the limit. In the end, all of this painting practice helps advance her dexterity and fine motor development. And it’s fun!
Most of us familiar with the Montessori method of education know that Practical Life activities (learning how to help with everyday cleaning, self-care, etc.) are very important to establish in the early years of life. Part of this is having items necessary for a child’s growing independence accessible. One very easy way to do this is to give your toddler or preschooler a cupboard (or drawer) of their own in the kitchen that they can access themselves.
As you can see above, I have cleared out one of our bottom cupboards for my 3-year-old’s dishware, so that she can grab a bowl, cup, and silverware all by herself during snack and meal times. We have had this cupboard for her for over a month and she has loved it! She enjoys being able to choose from what she eats out of and with. She also usually has napkins in there, and a pitcher for practicing pouring. Unfortunately, she has a lot of plastic stuff in her cupboard. My goal is to eventually replace those items with non-plastic items. The Sippy cups in the back of the cupboard are stored there for her 15-month-old sister. We have graduated my older daughter from Sippy cups, even though they sure were a lot easier. She does like to sneak her sister’s Sippy cups when I’m not looking.
If you can’t spare a cupboard or drawer you could always try a tiny shelf in the kitchen or dining area.
The beauty of having accessible areas for my daughter is that it does make it easier for me, too! 😉