Ocean Sensory Tub

ocean sensory binAnyone who thinks that sensory play is just for toddlers needs to see this post.  Since making the swamp sensory tub last year my kids have asked to do another one just like it.  I didn’t mean for so long to go by but we finally got around to it and this time made it into an ocean sensory tub with blue gelatin.  Play like this is fun and simple and perfect for summer . We leave ours out covered in our yard for a day or two and observe how the gelatin changes throughout the day. Please note that we live in the PNW in warmer climates leaving it out may not be a good option.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container to make the gelatin in, a large container to play in, some fun sea animals and glass pebbles, plain gelatin ( I used 5 boxes) and some blue food coloring. You will also need a little bowl, scissors, many cups of water and a pot or kettle for the boiling water.ocean sensory play for kids
  2. Start by pouring all the gelatin into a little bowl – 5boxes = 20 packets of gelatin.ocean sensory play
  3. Boil 5 cups of water . Add a few drops of blue coloring to the water.
  4. Pour 15 cups of cool water into your container.
  5. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let rest for one minute.ocean sensory tub for kids
  6. Pour the boiling water in and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
  7. Hide in your fridge behind yogurt. Well that’s what I did because the last thing I wanted was blue gelatin all over my kitchen . When I made the rainbow gelatin sensory tub I spilled some blue and it it forever to get that stuff off.ocean hiding behind my yogurt
  8. When the gelatin is set about 3 hours ( ours was a little under done but the kids were eager) grab the sea animals and get the table prepared.ocean sensory bin set up
  9. They explored the gelatin before putting it in the table. Touching and tasting it. ” It tastes like zero, nada, nothing .” ocean sensory bin tasting it
  10. Then we added the gelatin.ocean sensory play dgd
  11. Play!! Clearly the 6 year old was into it. Literally.ocean sensory tub with gelatin
  12. Because ours was a little under done it was stickier than normal and required more washing off – so they ran to the water in our yard and cleaned themselves off.ocean sensory clean up

Find & Rhyme – Gross Motor Rhyming Game

find and rhyme game for readingGetting my son learning after school isn’t always easy because he’s just been at school all day!  This rhyming  game was originally supposed to be a Frisbee like game with the hula hoops acting as targets but my dollar store plates were too light and even doubled up wouldn’t fly well. So we turned it into a hunt and my daughter came along for the ride and everyone had fun . You could adapt this easily for different levels using upper and lowercase as pairs to match, sight words ( writing out two and finding the match) or word families. Even though my almost 3 year old participated this activity is part of our Learning After School series . This series is filled with ideas for fun active learning after school gets out.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cheap plastic plates ( just don’t expect them to make good Frisbees… ) , a sharpie and some hula hoops.Rhyming Hunt for kindergarten
  2. Start by writing some words on the plates. I chose 4 words that offered lots of rhyming words.  Bake, car, band and hat.rhyming activity for kids with movement
  3. Write out as many rhyming words on the rest of the plates for each as you think will offer your child the right amount of challenge.  You can always have a few extra on hand to hide on the go if your child is into it and you want to extend it.
  4. Place the anchor words ( bake, car, band and hat) in the hula hoops.hunt and rhyme learning after school
  5. Hide the other plates. rhyming word hunt
  6. Get your kids ready – I had my son agree that he’d let his sister find her share and not zoom through and grab them all . He also offered up his reading and rhyming skills to help. I wasn’t sure how it would play out … if you are doing this with a number of children with similar rhyming and reading abilities a great way to do it is to start each child off with a different word and have them search only for words that rhyme with their assigned word. * Whenever I am explaining rules I start with a quick game of Simon Says. It gets them focused. hunt and rhyme learning after school game
  7. It was great. hunt and rhyme early literacy gameHe needed a reminder not to grab all the plates but one reminder was enough. They would find a plate, run over and match the rhymes. She got a few solo ( after we read them of course)gross motor rhyming game and he would do his in his head throwing them down fast. But then when she was stumped he took time to help his sister saying things like ” Do you hear they sound the same? Cake and bake rhyme.” It was still pretty much over her head but he got great practice being patient and teaching her.  You can see him stretching out the words for her as a hint. Best part is the plates store easily and you can add more when you want to play again. sounding out the rhymes - rhyming game for kids

 

Books That Rhyme

 

25 picture books that rhyme

Here are 25 great books that rhyme . When reading these books with your kids take some time to play with the rhymes , not every single on but a few. Be silly and have fun. Do things like use a synonym in the place of a rhyming word  in the familiar text. When your child corrects you explain that the word means the same thing. They will insist it’s still not right . Ask them why. Continue reading. Pretending not to know the answer and letting my kids answer for me always gets a good laugh and the lesson sticks as well.

10 Mural Projects For Kids

10 mural projects for kidsMaking a mural is a great opportunity for learning, especially cooperative learning. When I was teaching PreK I had a very spirited class and although I made many missteps as a new teacher one thing I did well was to encourage cooperative art projects when bad behaviors started popping up. Murals aren’t only great for making kids work together they are also wonderful for long term projects, getting up from the table to learn and encouraging kids to use proper hand form for writing while writing and drawing on vertical surfaces. Each of these mural projects have other more specific learning goals like shape recognition, counting and fine motor skills but the emphasis is always on fun.

Spring Garden Mural
Math Around The House Mural
Flower Petal Sticky Wall
Heart Rainbow Mural
Letter Flowers Sticky Wall
Jar Lid Match Mural
Peel & Pick Apple Tree
Alphabet Wall Mural
Ocean Shapes Mural
Christmas Tree Sticky Wall

Construction Site Sensory Play & Books

by Allison McDonald bulldozer partyMy daughter is crazy about bulldozers right now and we’ve been playing with toy bulldozers in our sensory table . This is such a simple construction site play idea. No need for anything really special other than your child’s favorite construction vehicle. You will see I had a variety of them but her little orange bulldozer was firmly in her hand the whole time.

  1. Gather your materials. We used dried beans, cinnamon sticks, popsicle sticks , corks , empty ribbon spools, and construction themed toys and tools.construction site sensory play
  2. Start by filling your tub or table with the fillings. She loved pouring the beans in .construction site sensory bin
  3. As soon as the cinnamon sticks made their way in she was busy building a new kindergarten.  construction site pretend playSensory play like this offers so many opportunities to learn but don’t push it. Their imaginations will lead them and if you are present you will be able to find little moments to jump in but don’t feel you need to by any means.construction site play
  4. The main thing she wanted to do was build with her dad ( we did this on a Saturday so he was home to play) construction site play with dadand bulldoze things off the cliff. constrution site play for toddlersShe did a lot of sorting and counting without prompting from me.construction site learning

Construction Books

 

dig-dig-digging

Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo is one of the few books we have that we have bought twice. Our first copy was so well loved that we knew when it could not be read anymore that it would be immediately replaced. This book is imbedded in my brain ( and heart) because both my children have gone through a phase where it’s their absolute favorite. The book takes readers through different vehicles like firetrucks, rescue helicopters and of course bulldozers. The text is repetitive and will get stuck in your head for days but it’s ok because your kids will recite it along with you.

dazzling diggers

Dazzling Diggers (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton is part of the Amazing Machines series of books that are favorites of both my kids. Now my son reads them to my daughter and yes my heart bursts when he reads to her and it makes me completely forget when he tackles her.  The book themselves are little gems. This one talks about diggers and bulldozers with absolutely fantastic rhymes. What amazes me about this book is that your child will actually come away having learned something substantial about the vehicles in it at the same time as loving the brilliant rhyming text. Must read for construction vehicle fans.

Goodnight-Goodnight-Construction-Site

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker will have to be renewed from the library while I wait for my copy to come from Amazon. This book is starting to get pretty popular and rightfully so, it’s a lovely book. In it busy little construction vehicles wind down for the night and fall asleep. I never thought I would say an excavator was cute but the one in the book is. It’s a wonderful bedtime book and your child will enjoy winding down with the sleepy bulldozer and his friends. My daughter completely adores this book.

The book links are affiliate links.

Alphabet Road – Letter Sorting

letter craftby Allison McDonald

Last week we played with our Alphabet Garden and a commenter asked how I could make it for children who loved cars and trucks. This is the letter sorting game that I came up with for cars and trucks. You could do it as a magnet activity like we did or put it all on a sheet of contact paper like our alphabet garden, whatever best fits your child. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series that is focused on making playing with letters fun and dynamic. This can be adapted to any level. For children just beginning to notice letters they can simply put the letters on the road. Don’t worry about sorting into cases. For older children use the letters to spell. Write words with a missing letter and have your older child fill in the blank. Here is what we did for my daughter who is familiar with both upper and lowercase letters and enjoys sorting them.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black construction paper, green construction paper ( scraps would work great), clear contact paper , pictures of cars and trucks ( mine come from wrapping paper) , self adhesive magnetic sheets, a white crayon, scissors, a marker and a cookie sheet from the dollar store.alphabet sorting with cars and trucks
  2. Start by making your cars and trucks. Cut the cars out.alphabet sorting for preschool with cars and trucks Add the letters. I didn’t do every letter in both upper and lowercase. I chose letters that my daughter has trouble with mixed in with some sure fire bets so she would be challenged but confident in her ability.alphabet uppercase and lowercase sorting with car theme
  3. Lay a large sheet of contact paper down sticky side up and lay the cars face down.alphabet letter sorting for preschool Place another sheet on top to sandwich the cars inside. Or laminate if you have access to a laminator. I am very jealous if you do. Nothing gets a teacher ( even a former teacher) more excited than laminating something. Cut into individual cars and trucks. alphabet for starters car theme
  4. Add the magnets. alphabet activity car lettersNow if you have a child who is well past the putting things in their mouth stage cut little squares and stick them on the back of the cars. If you want you could also lay the whole laminated car on the sticky back magnet sheet and then cut .alphabet magnet This will make it harder for the to peel any small piece off. Please always remember that all our activities are designed for children to do with a parent within arms reach and only if they are ready for the activity. You don’t have to make the pieces magnetic for the kids to have fun, it’s just a bonus.
  5. Make a simple road and some signs saying UPPERCASE ROAD and lowercase road . These give visual cues even for kids that aren’t reading independently . You can add magnets to these if you want too. Painter’s tape is a great choice if you are skipping the magnets but want these pieces to stay in place temporarily.car and truck alphabet activity
  6. Ready to play! This is what it would look like if I handed it to my 6 year old.alphabet game For my almost 3 year old it looked like this. She ended up sorting all the letters but I gave  them to her in bite size pieces so she wasn’t overwhelmed.alphabet game for kids
  7. She loves cars and trucks right now ( well really bulldozers are the best) so she was all into it. After the first few were put on she asked me for more. Remember to label what your child is doing and to sit back. If they ask for help be ready to support but don’t take over.alphabet game for preschool
  8. The trickiest part for her were letters like w and o.alphabet activity kids She thought for a long time before placing them down. She just kept piling them on. alphabet activity with cars and trucksAnd was insistent that she show it off at the end. I was impressed with how many magnets piled together still stayed in place.alphabet road activity

Alphabet Book

alphabeep

Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list. Edited for 2013 : My daughter also loved this book and had me read it twice at the library which is a glowing review.

For more Alphabet Books check out our list of 50 Alphabet Books We Love

This book review includes an affiliate link.