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!
This is a very simple weather chart that can get your toddlers/preschoolers thinking about weather and the atmosphere around them. I made it from felt. My inspiration came from an image I saw on Pinterest (in photo below):
This paper plate version is very simple and I love the cotton balls for the cloudy weather. I wanted something more permanent and so I made it out of felt (and I was on a felt sewing kick for a while). I drew the images on paper and cut them out to use as stencils. I free cut all of the letters out (very tedious but they sell pre-cut felt letters at most craft stores which would be easier) and sewed everything down. It’s a very easy sewing project and the kids enjoy it!
“Paint” with water on a chalkboard. My kids love this. They also like washing it this way (which is a bonus because they clean off all of the chalk dust).
Stick tooth picks into play doh. As simple as this may seem it was very interesting to a 2.5-year-old and a 5-year-old. They pretended like the toothpicks were birthday candles on a cake, arms and legs on a person, etc.
No play doh? Mix together 1 cup hair conditioner and 2 cups cornstarch. It’s very soft and fragrant! I’ve seen this recipe (sometimes called cloud dough) all over the internet and it really is worth trying out. Next time I’ll add some food coloring and make it colorful.
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). 😉
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! 😉
Puzzles are great. They are an activity that encourages problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, concentration, fine motor skills, and the list surely goes on. I found a pack of four mini puzzles from the dollar store. Yes, they are cheap and made of cardboard and will not last very long, but I have had the hardest time finding simple mini puzzles with only a few pieces anywhere else. Usually my 3-and-a-half-year-old needs a lot of assistance to complete puzzles, but these mini ones only have 3-8 puzzle pieces each. She can do them by herself as one of her shelf activities.
I recently got rid of a ton of my daughters’ toys and things. I had always talked and thought about minimalizing her collection, but worried that I would regret it later down the road. I’ve also worried about getting rid of things that were gifts from other people because I didn’t want to offend anyone. The truth is, I have been way more sentimental with their stuff then they have! Since I’ve reduced the toy collection both of my daughters have shown much more appreciation for the things that are left. We have kept things based on a few factors: is it educational? does it inspire imaginative play? is it handcrafted or made of superior natural materials? Is it a classic toy? Also, because there are fewer things, my daughter has a much easier time keeping things organized and her room has a much less overwhelming feeling to it. We have fun with less, and usually it truly is with the simple toys: blocks, tea set, puppets, pretend doctor kit, etc.
So, if you’ve been wondering if you should thin out your child’s toy collection, but fear that they would miss it… I’m hear to tell you they probably won’t! At least for kids 3 and under. Maybe older kids start becoming more attached to their things. I’m not there yet. What do you think?