Playdough Play Mats – Silly Hairdos!

This sensory activity allows kids to use their imagination to give you or themselves a new hairdo with playdough. My toddler is a huge fan of playdough play and it’s great stuff for toddlers and preschoolers… but my 5 year old gets bored easily sometimes. It’s not essential we all play the same things but it’s nice to play and be silly together .It was inspired by this paint project from Putti Prapancha . Adapting it to playdough  allowed us all to sit and play together .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sheet protectors, some photos of faces that you can cut, playdough ( ours is store bought but homemade will work a-ok), a few sheets of construction paper, some scissors, painters tape, double stick tape and a garlic press.
  2. Start by cutting out the faces from some family pictures. Cut off the hair! playdough ideas
  3. Tape them onto the construction paper using double stick tape.
  4. Slip it into a page protector. I had to trim my construction paper to fit.Tape to the table with painter’s tape if you have a little one like my daughter who takes great pleasure in “clearing off” tables.
  5. Start playing. We used the garlic press, our hands and scissors to make the hair. preschool play dough stuff
  6. My daughter loved putting it on my face, apparently she wants me to have a goatee. Don’t worry about toddlers putting the hair in the “right” place, there is no “right” place.  Talk about who they are looking at , talk about how squishy the playdough is and ask if they have hair etc… no need to make it a battle of wills, this is supposed to be play, so let them explore.
  7. We rotated through the pictures taking turns ( another good lesson) .He loved mixing the colors in the garlic press.
  8. Squeezing it out.
  9. Adding it on. For some reason the concept of chest hair has been a big topic at our house – not something I was expecting until closer to puberty but ok. He added some on his sister and himself. Have fun with this.

Books About Families

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is one of those books that you read and think oh I love it, but will kids? I am here to tell you yes! They love this old Yiddish folk tale about a little boy, his very special blanket and his grandfather who made it for him. Over the years Joseph’s blanket transforms into a jacket, a vest, a tie, and handkerchief and finally a button. The story is beautiful and kids love not only the repetitive text when the grandfather is sewing but also the continuing storyline of the mice that live under the floor boards who use the scraps of material for all sorts of things. There are no goofy gimmicks, no lights or sounds just a great story and beautiful illustrations in this gem! A fantastic book about family and growing up.

All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman was not what my son or I expected at all. The story is really disjointed both connecting similar objects into families and talking about the generations of a family. I like  that it explains that there can be all sorts of families  and that it talks about how your family makes you into new things like a son, sister or cousin but I think mixing the two is too disconnected for the average picture book reading kid. To be honest it was a little disjointed for me too.  My son was ready for it to be over half way through and that is never a good sign. Usually by the time he’s asked if it’s over he’s tuned out. The illustrations were cute but even they didn’t save it for us.

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.

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Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub

rainbow sensory tub

I know tomorrow is Valentine’s Day but my mind is already planning St.Patrick’s Day. If you need a Valentine’s Day craft idea we have those too but I had to share this because it was too much fun to keep to ourselves any longer. The major bonus of this project was that for toddlers who are putting everything in their mouths it’s no biggie if they take a bite. I added koolaid to make it smell great and sour to discourage eating it. This must be kept in the fridge so make some , you won’t regret it.

  1. Gather your materials. I used 6 foil pans I had on hand but any container will work to set the gelatin, you will need plain gelatin packets 4 per color, food color, spoons, a pot, measuring cups and koolaid for scent/added color. Also a big tub and some bath toys for playing. I have been asked why not just use jello. I didn’t want my kids to eat this – I wanted it to smell great but taste yucky. rainbow gelatin sensory tub
  2. Start by mixing your colors. I used koolaid mostly for scent but also for color.
  3. Make the gelatin. I used the recipe on the back of the knox gelatin box adjusting it to  1/2 as much liquid ( 1/2 cup of cool and 1 cup hot and 4 envelopes of gelatin) as the recipe called for to make it thicker for play using plain water with color/ koolaid in it. I made all 6 colors.rainbow gelatin sensory tub
  4. Let cool – I had to stack them in my fridge so I popped a few in the freezer for a minute to stiffen and totally forgot about this purple one… if froze, and was unusable. The kids didn’t miss it at all.
  5. When set slice into pieces. I used a knife then scraped it into the tub using a spatula.
  6. Add kids and toys. He was so excited he was bouncing, this is the best picture of many very blurry bouncy pictures I took.Rainbow Sensory Tub
  7.  You can probably tell we did this in our bathroom, please find a place where tiny bits of color won’t ruin anything. The gelatin won’t stain hands but can be absorbed into clothes and other fabrics. Please go somewhere where kids can have fun without you hovering and you won’t have to search for stain removers on Pinterest after this project. Our bathroom was perfect, I had a damp cloth handy for little bits that got shaken off hands or toys and flung all over. It also had a door to stop kids from running into the rest of the house before hands were washed. All this said it was still completely worth it.

    Rainbow Sensory Tub

  8. They stuck them on the side of the tub.
  9. Smelled it. Rainbow Sensory Tub
  10. Tasted it ( love my son’s face, he’s telling her not to eat it). Rainbow Sensory Tub
  11. Mixed them all up and had a blast. Rainbow Sensory Tub

Valentine’s Day Activity for Toddlers – Discovery Box

valentine's day for toddler

Toddlers love digging through things. Kitchen cabinets, boxes of blocks or my daughter’s favorite the DVD drawer. I roped in that inherent desire to dig and find for this love themed Valentine’s Day activity for toddlers an easy discovery box.  Besides the silk flower petals inside there are paper hearts and family photos of people she knows and loves cut into hearts. As we played I’d ask her to find someone and she would search and search until she did. Great for families like ours that are spread out, or for any that are separated due to work or deployment.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container, some silk flower petals, printed card stock, double stick tape , family photos and a heart paper punch.
  2. Start by punching out paper hearts. The reason you want so many is that you want the toddler to pick each up and look on both sides to see if there is a picture. If the ones without the pictures over frustrate your child remove them. This builds concentration and memory.
  3. Cut out your pictures and using double stick tape stick them to some of the paper hearts.
  4. Add them to a container with the silk flowers.
  5. Add a toddler. She loved finding pictures of her brother as a baby the most.
  6. If they get up keep playing yourself, it doesn’t mean the activity is a flop they might just want some goggles… I had a hard time not laughing hysterically when she put the goggles on. She was happy and moved the box to the floor so maybe she was just more comfortable on the floor. I ran with it.
  7. Label things as you go but don’t interrupt too much, be there to help along not to direct.

My Toddler’s  Favorite Valentine’s Day Book

Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book since I brought it out of storage after Christmas. Countless. Every time we sit and lift the flaps together I get a serious craving for chocolate. Karen Katz is a toddler’s dream come true. Her illustrations are big and bright and filled with happy babies. Her text is short but still meaty enough for young preschoolers and the flaps to lift and open are perfect for this age when a static book often is just too static for a dynamic toddler. I can see why my daughter brings it over to me everyday. It’s the perfect book to go along with this activity and you could even slide a few of the hearts with photos under a few flaps while you read.

 

Pretend Play – Vet Clinic

Pretend Play Vet Clinic

Pretend play is probably my favorite part of early childhood education because there are countless lessons hidden in every pretend play scenario. We turned our playroom into a vet clinic simply by mixing a few stuffed animals with our trusty doctor kit and rearranging the furniture. It was fast for me to set up and both kids enjoyed taking care of their animals. Along the way they learned about body parts, empathy and my son and I had a nice chat about prescriptions and why it’s important to only ever take medicine the doctor has specifically prescribed for you .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some stuffed animals, a play doctor kit , some paper, a clip board, marker , and a bench or table to use as an exam table. I added a basket for my daughter who wanted to tuck her patients into bed after she examined them.
  2. Set up a waiting area with furniture and books – our books were all about dogs and cats, you can check out our reviews after the tutorial.
  3. Set up an exam room. I labeled each area and encourage you to as well, it helps deepen the play as well as adds some reading to the activity. Pretend Play Vet Clinic
  4. Make a check list for older kids who are reading and either have them write or circle answers. Can you tell I did this in a hurry? It was almost time to get my son from school. Best thing is he didn’t care, as long as he could read it no need to be perfect!
  5. Play! My daughter examined her cat trying out each instrument and having just had her own 18 month old check up she was familiar with many of them. I chatted with her as she played but didn’t intervene unless she interacted with me. I did pretend to nurse the cat as per her request.
  6. She loves her patients!
  7. With my son I pretended to be the dog and cat’s owners but followed his lead.
  8. We worked in measurement and gave the pup a little oxygen.
  9. The puppy got a clean bill of health!

Books About Cats and Dogs

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (If You Give… Books) by Laura Numeroff is one of the newer “If You Give…” series. I like this one , I mean any book with a cat in a bathing suit is worth a look. I am a big fan of these stories not only because they have just the right amount of text for young preschoolers, but also because the illustrations by Felicia Bond are so detailed you can spend ages talking about what your child sees in the book after the words are read. I love the cause and effect , and after a few readings your child will have fun telling you what’s next.

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill ! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargain hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

This post was shared on Nurture Store’s Play Academy

Playdough Play – Toy Prints

We play with playdough daily, usually more than once. My daughter is fascinated with it and her favorite thing to do with it is to press objects into the playdough and make prints. This was not a planned post at all, and all the photos were taken with my phone since I didn’t want to interrupt her play to grab my camera that was downstairs. Simple discovery play like this is my favorite and such a fun way to connect with your toddler.

 

We started with our playdough and usual cookie cutters. I usually switch the cutters and color of playdough out every few weeks. Then she grabbed this light up wand of her brothers and started making prints. She was in giggly heaven, especially since it lit up every time she hit it hard enough into the play dough.

Then we grabbed some duplo and made prints . These we all agreed looked like cheezits!

We flipped the duplo over and made little “buttons” and she very carefully pressed each one.

Her giggles and my photo snapping attracted the attention of my son who brought over a gear to press into the playdough.

Activities like these that use toys you have in new and novel ways with a sense of discovery ” Hey what sort of print with that block make?” is such and easy activity but trust me it will go on for a long time, happily! We also used little people which if you press the bottom into the playdough make a shape rather reminiscent of a nipple. My nursing daughter pointed that out to me right away , the picture was rather life like so I skipped it. Other fun toys were train tracks ( skip the trains the playdough will get stuck in the wheels) and chunky puzzle pieces .