Strawberry Play Dough Sensory Play

fine motor play dough activity strawberries Our house sits on what used to be a huge strawberry farm. Our soil is amazing, it’s really a pity I don’t have anything close to a green thumb. Still learning more about our neighborhood’s history was part of the spark that inspired this activity. Originally we were going to draw the strawberries but my daughter suggested making strawberry play dough. I grabbed the black rice and we were all set. What I love about creating with play dough isn’t just the hand strength it works on , or even the ability to squish “mistakes” and start over, it’s how I have yet to do a simple planned activity that didn’t end in a completely different but equally fun ( albeit messier) play.

Gather your materials. You will need some play dough ( ours is actual Play-Doh because the only homemade stuff we have right now is scented with mint and my daughter made it very clear that strawberries do NOT smell like candy canes… so we grabbed some of our pre-made stash). You will also want a cookie cutter, we didn’t have a strawberry so we used an acorn, as well as some black rice.strawberry playdough supplies

Place all the tools together and let your little creator create!Strawberry playdough play activity for kids

She started creating berries right away. Strawberry playdough for kids

I didn’t even have to tell her what the black rice was for. I loved watching her carefully add them on top. Great fine motor play!fine motor activity strawberry playdough for kids

After she made a handful of strawberries she created a coffee shop. I was lucky enough to get more than a few cups of yummy black rice coffee! This is exactly what I want to see her do with activities, use them as a launching pad to even MORE creativity! strawberry playdough and sensory exploration

Princess Slime with dig and find gems.

princess birthday party ideasPlaying with slime is such a soothing activity for children and in my experience adding small items to it makes it even more calming. For my children focusing on digging items out of the slime takes their focus away from their frustration and upset and gives them something better to work on.  Slime is not just for kids that need to chill out, it’s for all kids, and in my experience most children LOVE it. I make mine pretty stiff because when it’s wetter kids tend to try to shake it off and then you find little bits all over. This princess slime puts a princess spin on a not so princess like activity – but even princess fans LOVE slime.

Gather your materials. You will need clear glue, regular glue, glitter glue, food color, glitter, laundry starch, gems, beads, and a bowl and spoon for mixing.

princess slime

I am not an exact recipe type person and I was using up half empty bottles of glue for this. But below is what I did!

Recipe:

1/2 bottle of clear glue
1/2 bottle of glitter glue ( I had 1/4 of 2 different colored bottles)
2 drops of red food color
2 big dollops of plain glue
1 vial of glitter
about 1/4 cup of starch + a little more.

princess slime recipe

Start by mixing the glue and food color. I was pumped when my son wanted to help make this for his sister.

Add the glitter and mix.princess slime for kids

Add the liquid laundry starch slowly. princess slime play recipeI had my son add about 1/8th of a cup, then I stirred and then he added more. In all it was about 1/4 cup. I know it’s enough only after I knead it for a long time. If it’s still sticky then, I add more. I knead it a lot to make sure it’s stiff.

slime activity

Add in the gems.gems in princess slime

Add in the kiddo to play ( Minnie ears are completely optional) – I never tell her to dig out the gems, she just does.fine motor sensory play princess slime

Strech! stetchy princess slime

She loved seeing how far she could go without it breaking!
princess slime is fun!

Color Mixing with Play Clay – Hand Strength Activity

color mixing free choice activity Who doesn’t love concocting new things? My kids can’t be the only ones making potions with hand soap, mouthwash and shampoo behind locked bathroom doors!  I like to use that enthusiasm for a less wasteful activity like color mixing with play clay. You can lay it out and let them go for it, or make it a more structured activity and have specific pairs to be smushed together.  Kneading the dough is great for building hand strength and mixing two colors together takes a few minutes of good kneading. You can do this with playdough, plasticine, or use the Melissa & Doug modeling compound like we did. What I like about this compound that was sent to me to try out is that it’s super soft and feels great on little fingers.

Gather your materials. You will need a tray with lots of little compartments for different colors. I used an ice tray. You will also want something to protect your table like a tray and, of course, your play clay.

color mixing lesson

Start by putting just a teeny bit of a whole bunch of colors into the compartments. Call your color scientist to come make you some new colors!color mixing with play dough

She was into it from the get-go. Look at those little hands working hard building new muscles. color mixing with play doughHand strength is important for handwriting and other tasks like tying shoes, buttoning shirts and pants, and using utensils. So giving your children opportunities to work on it without making them feel like they are working on it is important.

color mixing vlogging

See that little mirror? That’s her pretend camera, she narrated the whole activity because as she told me ” She was vlogging!” can you tell she has grown up with a blogger for a mom?

colors mixed

After she mixed each pair she decided to mix all these colors together. Before she did I asked her to make a prediction about what color it would be. Then she was off to mixing the colors. Her prediction was gray and she was right!color mixing play clay

Books About Color Mixing

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white-rabbits-color-book-alan-baker

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 dyeing Easter eggs which are 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.

little-blue-and-little-yellow

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.

mouse paint

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute little story about mice that get into the 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.

Water Table Activity – Make A Mess and Explore!

sensory play outside As parents and teachers we often create activities with something specific in mind, then when we add our little ones the activity takes a turn. That is the moment when we can encourage or lose our cool and stop everything and fight against our little charges and get the activity “back on track”. There will be days when the best choice IS to redirect the children and stick to the plan but many more where we can trust our children and follow their learning and exploration.

My plan was to have a desert and swamp water table activity her plan was to explore what happens when things get wet. We went with her plan, I’ll still share mine in case it’s useful for you. water table outside fun

Gather your materials. You will need some sand, rocks, and desert animal figurines for the desert side of the table. For the swamp side you will need water, pebbles, grass clippings, frogs and other swamp animal figurines.

sand in water table

Pour your sand into one side.

water table swampAnd your water in the other. Add all the extras.

 

I envisioned exploring the differences and for a few minutes she did. water table swamp small worldWe talked about the frog life cycle and made snake prints in the sand… and then went off-book and the real fun started. desert snake prints

The kinetic sand went into the water, and out, and in. sand with water in water table

Flowers were added. water table activity for kids

More water!

water table mess

She stirred the water and let it settle, found the animals and hid then under the water again… and kept exploring.

messy water play in water table

Parenting and teaching is a balance of choosing your battles, but it’s only a battle if we choose to look at it that way. If we choose to think about how they are exploring, how they are learning about their world through their senses and following their own curiosity we can battle bigger issues than sticking to the plan all the time.

 

Early Literacy Activities with Slime

literacy activities with slime After my daughter and I explored letter recognition and upper and lowercase letter matching yesterday with slime we started looking around the playroom for more items to use with the slime. Immediately we saw the cookie cutters that we usually use with playdough. We started making letter impressions and I knew right away that this would be perfect for my preschool class that aren’t quite ready for the tiny little alphabet beads that we used yesterday. They are still learning their letters and these big cookie cutters are perfect for their newly three-year-old hands.

Gather your materials. You will need some slime ( check out this post for our recipe), and some alphabet cookie cutters.sensory alphabet activity

Explore and have fun squishing the slime through the cookie cutters and making impressions.

slime and cookie cutters with gak

As we were playing we discovered that we could also use these cookie cutters to make words. What a fun way to work on spelling words! If you have lowercase cookie cutters that would be even better ( we only have uppercase ones). What a great way to use slime for older siblings and younger siblings at the same time. Here are five basic early literacy ideas you could do using just slime and alphabet cookie cutters :

Place all the cookie cutters on the table and give your child a ball of slime to flatten.

gak with cookie cutters

1.Call out a letter sound and have your child grab the letter that makes that sound and squish it into their slime.

2. Call out a word and have your child spell it.

3. Call out a word and have your child spell a rhyming word in the slime.

4. Call out a word and have your child squish the letter that makes the initial letter sound into the slime.

5. Just let them play with the letters and slime. Trust me they are learning.

sensory activity that promotes literacy

 

How do you use sensory materials for literacy learning? Leave a comment and tell me how or pop over to No Time For Flash Cards Facebook Page and tell me!