Usually when we do a sensory tub I don’t have a clear goal for it but with this mini one I did. This was a simple sorting activity that while focused on color sorting also naturally led to counting and comparing amounts. You don’t need to put this into a sensory tub but by adding the split peas I added sensory and surprise elements that my daughter loved. When it was all done everything fit into a ziploc and can be taken back out for less structured play from now on.
Gather your materials. You will need some black and orange paper, black and orange creepy crawlies ( we used various spiders, ants, frogs, snakes etc… ) some split peas, and a container. I just grabbed the cheapest split peas at the store and didn’t notice until days later that there was a flavor packing with it. Just discard that if you have one unless you can think of a crafty way of using ham flavoring. If you do I am curious to hear it!
Invite your kiddo to come investigate. I didn’t have to tell her what to do , it was all right there and she naturally placed them on the matching color. As she did I did ask ” What are you discovering?” which started a discussion about that there were way more orange creepy crawlies than black.
Much time was also spent on just exploring the split peas. How they sounded when dropped back into the container from various heights and how some stuck to her hand if she squeezed them in her fist for a moment or two.
Simple activities like these are my go to for short structured lessons. They still leave many doors open to let my daughter explore but include tid bits of more pointed learning. The vast majority of what we do is open child directed play and we fit in little activities like this 2-3 times a week. Kids don’t need giant blocks of structured learning at this age but if they like it and you want to work it in try playful ideas like this.
Books About Creepy CrawliesAll of our book titles are linked to Amazon with affiliate links.
The Very Busy Spider was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers !
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg is a very interesting story of two ants who decide not to return to the colony and hang out in a sugar bowl eating instead. Of course nothing is as it seems and they have quite an adventure trying to avoid all the dangers of a kitchen, realizing in the end that being a part of a colony isn’t so bad! This is a cute book for preschoolers who will love trying to guess what each new adventure the ants face really are- they include a toaster, hot coffee and an electrical outlet.
I Love Bugs!by Phileomon Sturges is a rare find. It is listed as fiction but I would consider it as non fiction, as it really is a great factual book about bugs for older toddlers/ young preschoolers. It is really hard to find simple, short books that include facts and this one is perfect. It doesn’t go into the life cycles of butterflies or how lightning bugs light up, but it does use descriptive words with bright and charming illustrations. Great for the under 3 crowd, and useful for older kids too!
This is the 2nd post in our new series Unplanned and On The Go. My daughter is starting to refuse nap ( pray for me) and if she doesn’t go to sleep we go outside if at all possible for a calm walk. On our walk she decided she wanted to look for colors and I suggested she take pictures with my iPhone. She is a whiz at handling my iPhone so with it’s ugly but kid friendly cover on it we set out to find some colors! It was a huge hit.
What we were doing : Going for a walk in an attempt to clam down and chill out before trying to nap again. I don’t give up easily and naps are my me time!
What I did to spark the activity : Handed my daughter my iPhone and said “Take pictures of the colors you see.”
What it turned into : A fun colorful photo safari! As we walked I had her find a color and then I handed her my phone to take a picture. I didn’t want her walking and looking down at the phone at the same time. Not a safe option for her or the phone. I was fascinated by which colors stood out for her in the photos she took. We also found that when given the chance to be very careful with my phone she was. It was a lesson in trust and responsibility. I was super impressed with her pictures – she took each herself and while I re sized them for the post I only edited a few a tiny bit for clarity.
What is your favorite on the go activity with you kids? Leave a comment and let’s talk!
Finding activities that both my two year old and her six year old brother enjoy isn’t always easy. More and more he wants to do something she doesn’t have the patience or skill for yet. One thing they both love are hunts. Simple materials, fun game and a ton of learning. This bug hunt has color matching , counting and sorting as well as a ton of fun. This activity was a great way for both of them to play and learn together. As you will see they worked at their own level while working together. Although we used bugs you could use any small items like plastic Easter eggs, simple blocks or even cut out shapes.
- Gather your materials. You will need many multi colored small objects to hide, construction paper in the same colors ( we chose a rainbow theme but you could do any colors) and some kids eager to find things.
- Spread your colors out on a flat surface like the floor or table.
- Hide your bugs. Can you see any in this picture ?
- Explain the rules of the game. Find the bug and sort it in the correct color. For my son I added the following challenges : After he found a bug and put it in the right color I asked him to see which color had the most bugs and which had the least. This made him pause so his sister had a slight chance at finding some of the bugs and gave him a little math lesson too.
- Start finding those bugs! They were so quick it was hard for me to catch any pictures.
- My daughter loved sorting them and every now and then I would sneak one into the wrong color and she’d fix it.
- When we found them all I asked them to count. My daughter counted all the bugs in each color and my son counted all the bugs in every color. He also told me which color had the most, which had the least .
- After that he went off to play Lego but my daughter and I played two more times.
Books About Bugs
We try to always match up activities with books to reinforce active play with quality reading time. Here are 19 great bug books for you and your little bug hunters to check out.
Playdough is one of our favorite materials and as you will see I rarely use homemade stuff. I love real Play-Doh especially the smell. So we bought the real stuff ( although homemade would work just as easily) and made a simple multi-sensory color sorting activity. This activity works on color and shape recognition, fine motor skills and counting. It’s also easy to set up and fun.
- Gather your materials. You will need play-doh in various colors. We did the rainbow but any combination of colors would work. You will also need some buttons, wood shapes, pony beads, or other small items in the same or very similar colors.
- Set up your play-doh. I used half a canister for each color.
- Invite your little genius to come match up some colors. My daughter was into it immediately. She loves pushing small things into play-doh so I knew she would be into this. I was still happy she was enjoying herself.
- Adding the small items works on color matching , shape recognition and of course fine motor skills too. While they add the items try narrating their actions saying things like “You found the blue circle!” and ” You added the red star to the red play-doh.” if you are new to narrating it can feel a little odd but it really helps toddlers and preschool aged kids with vocabulary and it prompts conversation. Older kids will let you know when it’s no longer welcome , trust me .
- When she was done with adding the buttons and beads she counted each color. When we were one she helped me take the items out and put the play-doh away.
Books To Check Out
These Books About Colors are my very favorite and all go so well with this activity whether you choose to match up one color or the whole rainbow.
Learning about colors is not limited to the art easel. Books about colors are a great way to work on color recognition with little ones while having fun doing it.
White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker is a classic in my mind and if you have never read it you must. It’s not a complicated story, instead it’s a brilliant book and lesson about color mixing . The cover illustration of the bunny in the paint always makes me think of dying Easter eggs which is another great opportunity to teach about color mixing. Kids love this book and adults reading it will enjoy the fun and dynamic language used to describe the vibrant colors that the bunny plunges into.
Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.
Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!
Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd was a huge hit at our house. My son loved identifying the colors of all the drips of paint, ice cream and more that Dog gets on him throughout the day. This is a great book not only because it has counting and colors but because of the language it uses while the spots of color are splatting, squashing ans squishing onto his beautiful white fur. My son loved repeating these words with enthusiasm as he noted how poor Dog was getting so messy! It’s a fun book to read and one that I have added to my wish list !
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter actually sits looking at these pages instead of simply trying to eat the book, which in my opinion is a great review from a 6 month old!
I Love Colors by Margaret Miller is one of my daughter’s favorite books. When we went to the library she started pulling the parenting books off the shelf because there are pictures of babies on the covers. The librarian was quick to notice and started finding us books with babies and this was one of the winners. We have now renewed this book twice and read it many many times a day. The book is super simple and each page shows a baby with a colored item like glasses, a hair bow etc… the photos are big and of real babies which if your toddler is like mine, makes a big difference.
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute little story about mice that get into paint and not only make a mess but discover what happens when you mix colors. Great for every day but even better when you are learning about colors specifically mixing colors.
Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a clever book each page offers a sneak peek at what it next, which my son thought was genius and I have to agree. Soon my son was making his own predictions about what object would be revealed when we turned the page. The book offered so many chances for me to step in and ask my son questions about what we were reading without stalling the momentum of the book.This post contains affiliate links.