This was not a planned project at all. My daughter and I were painting Easter eggs in the playroom when I saw all the materials for this all together in my closet and inspiration hit. This is a simple and quick shape matching activity but it also has elements of fine motor, sensory and the carrots give it just a touch of an Easter craft. You could do any shape to fit whatever theme you are learning about any time of year , another reason I think this is such a great activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sandpaper, felt , yarn, crayons and scissors.
- Start by drawing your carrots with crayons. In my experience using marker on sandpaper is a bad idea. The sandpaper bits end up in the felt tip and the markers are never the same again. Crayons are much more forgiving and vibrant.
- Cut your felt and yarn to size. Do not worry about an exact match. If exact means a lot to you reverse the order and use the felt shapes as a template and trace around them so they are exactly the same size. Either way your child will love it.
- Invite your little one to come explore the sandpaper. Talk a bit about the texture by asking questions and /or labeling what they are doing.
- Time to match up the shapes. Talk about how soft the felt is too if there is a natural chance to do it. If your child is engaged and not at all interested in exploring the textures don’t sweat it. Follow their lead .
- I had my daughter remove the shape after putting it down to see how “sticky” the sandpaper was. She was fascinated that her fingers didn’t stick but the felt did.
- Add the yarn. This was tricky but it was supposed to be. Just remember to walk the line between challenging and frustrating. She matched up a few and that was enough – this is supposed to be fun not a test of fine motor skills.
Books About Carrots
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a rare gem, it has been in print for over 60 years and has delighted generations . If you aren’t familiar with the story, a little boy plants a carrot seed and everyone tells him “It won’t come up.” this doesn’t stop the little boy from patiently taking care of this little seed, that eventually grows into a giant carrot. The message is a universal one of sticking to your guns even when everyone tells you you should give up. My son loved the story the simple pictures that will bring you back to your own childhood, at least they did for me. A true classic.
Coco The Carrot by Steven Salerno is an absurd tale of adventure, and I loved it. Coco is a carrot who dreams of a life larger than the vegetable drawer . She dreams big and goes for it. Unlike most carrots that end up in stew she becomes a famous hat designer and is the toast of Paris with her Monkey companion Anton. If you are scratching your head but oddly intrigued you will like this book. It was long but my son sat with me giggling and telling me ” Carrots can’t do that?!” more than once. I loved it because it is so absurd that she is a carrot, but the story itself is about going for your dreams, hitting bumps in the road and realizing that your dreams shift and change and that’s OK. There is great bits of humor for the adults as well, something I always appreciate!
Carrot Soup by John Segal is a cute book about planting a garden, in this case carrots, tending it and then reaping the rewards…. or maybe not. Rabbit carefully planned out his garden, took care of it but when it was time to gather all the carrots they were all gone! Throughout the pages there are hints to where the carrots might be, your child will likely figure it out before Rabbit does. My son liked this book and I loved reading it with him as he was rather exasperated that the Rabbit couldn’t figure out the mystery!
The Five Senses is a classic preschool theme because young kids learn through these senses. If you have ever watched a baby mouth objects it’s not because they are hungry or really really want to gross you out it’s because they are exploring how they feel with their mouths. These 21 activities are specifically designed with the a sense ( or more) in mind but even when you aren’t studying this theme specifically try to incorporate as many multi sensory activities in your child’s day .
My daughter loves fish and I have been wanting to make another batch of homemade puffy paint so I decided to combine the two. We love this paint because it dries puffy even the big globs! I was planning on doing this just with my daughter but when my son heard we were making puffy paint he put away his Lego and ran to the play room. Making your own puffy paint is so simple and this time we mixed in some colored glue which added a lesson in color mixing into the fun. If you are making a big fish like we did make sure you have a place for it to dry away from little hands for a good 48 hours. Smaller puffy paint creations will dry faster.
- Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper ( paper grocery bags cut open work great), shaving cream ( plain jane variety), plain white glue, colored glue , a marker, tape, a bowl and some spoons. If you are adding a face you will also need some googly eyes and a pipe cleaner for the mouth.
- Start by taping down your paper and draw a big fish.
- Now spray some shaving cream into the bowl. The official recipe I like calls for 1/2 cup of glue and 1 1/2 cups of shaving cream. I just eye ball it now we do it so much. My son loves spraying it.
- Add glue.
- Pop it on the fish. She hated getting her hands dirty – I had an old towel and baby wipes handy.
- Add colored glue. I was very impressed she didn’t try to eat it.
- Explore. Both my kids opted for the spoons. They take after their dad, I was eager to mix it with my hands.
- We popped it in my master bath that is never used. It was a perfect place to be out of my daughter’s reach for the two days. But first we added two eyes and a pipe cleaner mouth.
- Let dry. Ours dried for 2 days then I cut it out.
Over at my other blog I have a fun fish themed idea for children just starting to recognize their colors. Check it out.
Books About Sea Animals
Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone is a fascinating and beautiful board book. The story follows a little seahorse that hides on each page as it makes it’s way along the ocean back to it’s family. The illustrations are felt, fabric, sequins and other fun and very beautiful hand stitched creations. I am never ready for the next page because the previous has so much to look and marvel at. Kids like finding the seahorse on each page too! My son and I re read this tonight to my daughter and she liked it but he was still loving it, which is pretty impressive for a board book. It’s just so pretty!
O Is for Orca: An Alphabet Book by Andrea Helman is a book about the nature of the North West packaged in an alphabet book. Each page is dedicated to one large photo and a animal, plant or other part of North West nature. My son was reluctant at first wanting to read a Star Wars chapter book but only a page or two in he was asking not to skip any of the text and we were discussing the information about the sea animals and he was eager to make a nest in our apple trees for the spotted owls who we read were endangered. Many of the letters represent sea animals like sea stars, urchins and of course orcas. There are a lot of facts in this book and if I were reading it to my toddler I’d skip the paragraphs and go through the alphabet and each photo only. That is what I love about books like this you can adapt them so easily to your audience.
Baby Beluga by Raffi is a classic children’s song cleverly illustrated into a beautiful book. I grew up on Raffi in Canada and am still shocked when moms don’t know who he is, if he is new to you go to your library and check out one of his cds. My son loves this book, there are so many sea creatures to point out, it’s great for toddlers. I must say that I am unable to read this without singing the song. It might be a good thing to read it before listening to the song .
Sensory experiences for kids don’t have to be a show stopping three ring circus. I like making elaborate sensory tubs especially for my son since he is getting older and needs ones with specific tasks ( like finding letters, words or sorting objects in them) but a true basic sensory bin is an amazing educational tool. My toddler is just getting to the perfect age for this at 16 months. Exploring the small hard filler, using a spoon and scoop to transfer the grains from one spot to the next and practicing things like sharing with me as we play. Please don’t feel like you need to have all the bells and whistles because for toddlers it’s best to keep it simple and let them discover.
- Gather your materials. For this tub I bought some popcorn, barley and dried beans. Total cost for the grains was $2.34. The pumpkins were bought at a patch for $1 for 2 and the spoons and scoop are from my kitchen. The tub was under $2 and I reuse it by putting the filler from previous tubs into ziplocks and storing to re-use. We had a canning funnel to play with but all she wasnted to do was this which was cute but we moved it to the side so we could get down to digging.
- A tip when doing a sensory bin with small grains and a small child. Do it on carpet, if a spill does happen it won’t scatter. You can easily vacuum it up.
- Also I am asked all the time how I deal with my daughter putting the beans and grains in her mouth. She doesn’t generally but that is why I use such small grains , they will taste gross if she tried to chew them but they are so small they pose a very small risk of being a chocking hazard. Still stay within arms reach at all times. I used our coffee table ( which is technically a bench) and sat on the opposite side the while time the tub was within her reach. If your child is not ready for these try this one we made last year
- Practice scooping , pouring, talk about the colors of the spoons. Today I think we may have learnt which spoon is yellow and which is orange … I think. I do know we practiced sharing the spoons back and forth accross the table.
- I found this interesting, she is cleaning up some of the grains that spilled out. Not something her brother was interested in at her age.
We played with this simple sensory tub for much of the time we had between lunch and picking her brother up from school. Simple, fun and educational.