Sandpaper & Felt Shape Matching

sandpaper and felt texture puzzleThis 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.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sandpaper, felt , yarn, crayons and scissors. sandpaper and felt carrots67
  2. 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. sandpaper and felt puzzles for easter 2
  3. 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. sandpaper and felt texture puzzles
  4. 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.sandpaper and felt carrots
  5. Time to match up the shapes.sandpaper and felt puzzles for toddlers 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 .
  6. 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. sandpaper and felt puzzles for easter
  7. Add the yarn.sandpaper and felt fine motor skills 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. sand paper and felt puzzles

Books About Carrots

the carrot seed

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

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

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!

 

Arctic Ice Sensory Play

arctic ice sensory playI ordered these Arctic Animals a few weeks ago and we’ve been playing with them in playdough snow and with our other animal figurines but this arctic ice sensory tub was by far our favorite way to play. My daughter was absolutely in love with this and it’s so easy and cheap to make. The one big word of caution is that this much ice is heavy so please be careful that it’s on a stable surface and not somewhere that it could fall and hurt someone.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a plastic tub that will fit in your freezer( dollar store !) , a smaller plastic container, something heavy to place in the container ( I used frozen chicken sausage), a freezer and some arctic animals.
  2. Start by filling your tub part way with water. Do not fill it all the way it will be so heavy and possibly dangerous. Place the smaller container in and weigh it down. This will create a open area for water inside the icy terrain. Freeze.arctic ice play for kids
  3. Remove the smaller container and fill the open area with water. I filled mine with lukewarm water. artic ice play for kids and toddlers
  4. Add animals and play.arctic ice activity We kept ours low to the ground arcticon a stool in the bathroom so spills and splashes could be no biggie ( and also because the light it way better for pictures than in my kitchen). The next few times we played we played in the kitchen on a towel on the floor.
  5. Talk about which animals stay on land , which live only in the water and which can swim and walk on land. arctic sensory playWe talked a bit about predators and prey as well ( especially when her brother joined in the next day).  We noticed how the water was so cold even though it was warm-ish when we poured it in and why that was. And most importantly we played and played and played. arctic animal and ice sensory play
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Simple Patriotic Sensory Activity

4th of july sensory activity for kids I had grand plans for dying rice, finding star shaped containers and some flags for a 4th of July sensory bin but life got in the way and I ran out of time. So yesterday when my daughter and I had some time alone and quiet ( after weeks of family and running around) I used it to make this simple sensory activity.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a tray or pan some shaving cream, paint ( finger paint works great!) , glitter and some tools for mixing like paint brushes , spoons and spatulas.  4th of july sensory activity for kids
  2. Spray the shaving cream in.
  3. Add the paint.shaving cream fireworks I started just by squeezing it on, then used a brush to make it look like fireworks . My daughter couldn’t care less she is 2 and has only ever seen them once . The goal for her is to mix and explore.
  4. Add glitter! For you who aren’t keen on glitter you will like this , the glitter doesn’t spread all over. Ready for the kiddo- who was napping. Luckily the cream stays fluffy.
  5. Time to explore. She immediately went for the tools I had laid out for her.
  6. Asked for a napkin when she got some on her fingers.
  7. Mixed and mixed.

While she was exploring I narrated some, asked her what she saw, what she liked… but didn’t direct . Let them explore until they start throwing it on the floor or push away from the table. The great thing about this is that it really does last longer than you’d think. Hours later when my son got home from the beach with his dad he gave it a few mixes too.

 

 

 

Swamp Sensory Tub

It’s gooey , it’s gross and it’s green! It’s a swamp and this sensory play idea was a huge hit with both my 5 year old and my toddler. It was surprisingly easy to make and a great way to spend some chill time outside. Sensory play is so much more than squishing things it’s about discovering with all your senses and pretend play as well. My kids spent a good about of time simply making sounds with the goo, sounds like glurp, goop, glug, squish , slip , slurp. It was fun to see how they both narrated their experience and the giggles were amazing too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some gelatin ( I used plain because I had it on hand and added kool-aid for color but plain jello without the sugar should work too). You will also need a large container,  pool noodle, some plastic swamp creatures, water and a large tub or water table to play in.sensory fun for kids
  2. My daughter helped me make the gelatin. I followed the directions on the back for fruit jellies doubling the recipe.fun things for kids
  3. I love that by using kool-aid the gelatin smells awesome and is so tart even if kids do taste it , they spit it out. Also I used this old animal cracker container because it was a perfect fit for a space I had in my fridge. And it had a lid which was important since it was at kid level too. We let the gelatin set overnight in the fridge even though ours was ready to go in about 3 hours.
  4. We cleaned the water table ( it had dirt and rocks in it from our last play adventure) – this was an activity all on it’s own.
  5. Then the next morning after the gelatin was nice and set I filled one side with the gelatin and the other with water – added sliced pieces of pool noodle for lily pads and just enough creatures to invite play.
  6. And play they did.sensory tub ideas
  7. My son loved flopping the gelatin into the water side and it was neat to see how it would sink  to the bottom.sensory tub with jello
  8. My daughter loved squishing and squishing and squishing . I just kept taking pictures and soaking up the giggles. Did I mention it smelled amazing too, much better than a real swamp.jello sensory bin
  9. In the afternoon the sun melted the gelatin and my kids were bummed but we covered it and sure enough the next morning it was all congealed again and they had an absolute blast pulling the creatures out of the goo,sensory ideas for toddlers and we noticed the imprints they made too.  gelatin sensory bin We’ll see how many days we can keep it going!

Alphabet For Starters – Easy Touch and Feel Alphabet

alphabet for starters no time for flash cards

Make your own touch and feel letters for your littlest learner easily and without breaking the bank. These frugal and educational letters let beginners explore letters through their senses.  Alphabet For Starters is our series of simple activities for children just beginning to explore and learn letters. A great rule of thumb for when to start is when your child starts pointing out letters on shirts, in books or boxes. If they haven’t yet but this they might enjoy it,  try these activities and see if they are interested. If they are engaged  jump in and explore some more,  if they aren’t don’t push. We want letters to be fun, playful and interesting and if we push them on kids that aren’t ready we set up everyone for frustrating experience.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper , double stick tape ( or glue if you have time to let it dry), scissors, a marker, some materials that have various textures.  We used felt, some sticky back sparkly foam and regular sticky back  foam. I also used some emery boards but they didn’t stick to the double stick tape, and I was going to use some contact paper for sticky but forgot….  The main thing to remember is to have a handful of different textures.
  2. Start by choosing a few letters . I limit the letters only because I want my daughter who is almost 2 to explore them without being overwhelmed.  There is no way she’d go through and explore each at this stage so I only made a handful. If you want to make all 26 letters go for it just follow your child as they explore .
  3. To make the letters I started by cutting some construction paper in two and writing a letter on it. alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  4. Add double stick tape or glue and stick the felt on. The foam has a self adhesive back so it’s even easier to use. alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  5. After adding the textured material I cut the letters out .
  6. Added more double stick tape.
  7. And popped it on another sheet of construction paper so they are a little sturdier.
  8. Time to play!  She intuitively started tracing the letters. As she did I narrated a little ” That M is sparkly!” ” Does it feel nice on your finger?”
  9. She loved the squishy foam.
  10. Use descriptive words like, soft, smooth, squishy and of course label the letters as you play.
  11. The sparkly foam made a really scratchy sound and she loved it!alphabet for beginners

For her 6 letters was just the perfect amount. We’ll play with these letters again soon , and slowly switch in new letters as she is ready. Follow your child’s cues if they aren’t able to verbally tell you when they are past the prime learning zone. Once they are visibly less engaged, move on to something new.

Alphabet Books For Beginners

LMNO Peas by Keith Barker is such a cute alphabet book. The only characters are tiny little peas which just happen to be one of my daughter’s favorites foods right now so this was a hit by the letter B. What makes this book such a great pic for beginners is that it’s filled with big colorful letters. The text is a simple listing of jobs and roles for each letter of the alphabet with the peas dressed up as all these things among the huge fun letters. My favorite pea is the one dressed as Elvis , how could you not love a book with a pea dressed as The King? More important than it’s sense of humor is how well my daughter sat and flipped through the pages with me, exclaiming loudly when we got to a letter she knew and still happily engaged when it was one she didn’t.

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too.Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault  is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My kids love this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it. The text is so melodic I don’t know many who can read it without adding a sing song voice to the reading. I love this book.  A must have for all bookshelves.

Need more alphabet books?  Here are a bunch!