Winter Play Dough Creation Station

winter play dough for preschool Play dough is my daughter’s favorite activity. It’s such a wonderful material whether you make your own your buy Play-Doh at the store like we did for this winter play dough creation station. I am not a pre-planner. It looks like I am because you see all the activities after I put them into neat tutorials but I plan as I go and it’s rare I remember to make the play dough, so I buy it. I also LOVE the smell of Play-doh. LOVE. That said if I need a lot of one color I will make it like I did for our Snowman Play Dough gifts. My daughter was so into this simple activity. I set it up for her while her lunch was cooking and by the time she was done I had to re-heat her lunch because nothing was tearing her away from this winter play dough ! I also want to encourage you to sit with your child at least for part of their play because play dough can be a great prompt for storytelling and my daughter proved that point by walking me through a whole story about her snowmen. You can read it below!

Gather your materials. You will need some white and blue play dough, embellishments like buttons, jewels, baker’s twine, yarn, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. You will also need some cookie cutters. When I do this with a class I have 4-6 cutters but for one kid I offer 2. Too many can be overwhelming. winter play dough creation station

Dive in and play! With younger kids you might have to help them make the shapes, as you can see my daughter is a pro. snowman play dough for preschool winter play dough

She was so into this! winter play dough for preschool

Next up, snowflakes! snowflake play dough winterThese may or may not have been inspired by a certain animated movie…  I love all the fine motor work in this winter play dough! Kneading the dough, picking up the teeny tiny beads, working with the little pipe cleaners and baker’s twine… it’s all a great exercise for fine motor skills which will help them with other skills like cutting and writing. winter play dough for preschool fine motor pincer grasp

I get so excited about the discoveries that are made because of challenges. She was getting frustrated that the foil pipe cleaners weren’t sticking and instead of just throwing up her hands or omitting them, she tried and tried finally discovering that if he stick the pointy end into the play dough it would stay put where she wanted it. Way cool. best play dough activities

She wasn’t done still – one more snowman! My daughter wanted to be very clear that the snowman is not a cyclops, she is just wearing a cyclops hat. winter play dough for kids

Now time to talk about her creations. The snowmen are a family with a mom named Merritt who is a “cooker” , a dad named Judy who is a toy maker elf snowman, and a baby named England ” She’s a girl!” . winter play dough and storytelling

Books About Snow

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The lonesome  polar bear

The Lonesome Polar Bear by Jane Cabrera is a lovely book about a little polar bear who’s only friends are a snow cloud and snow animals and they all keep melting away. The book has an important  message about not giving up hope and to keep trying to make friends , a lesson that is worthwhile for everyone. The illustrations are very cute and my son (who was a toddler when we read it )loved it!

the snowy day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a classic. Some classics are the type of books that lose their relevance and leave readers wondering what the hype is about. This book is timeless. A little boy goes exploring in the snow and discovers his world in a new way. The illustrations are magical and the way that  they convey the emotions this little boy experiences throughout the day are nothing short of perfect.

jack frost snow

Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara is another fantastic book that will have you aching for snow. A little boy is lonely after his friends have all gone into hibernation for the winter when Jack Frost shows up. They frolic and play exploring all the fun that winter has to offer friends but when the first signs of spring arrive Jack is gone. The illustrations are perfectly simple and will suck you into a wintery world that you won’t want to leave. My kids love this book and after one reading at the library we bought our own copy.

Magnetic Sensory Bottles – Christmas Activities For Preschool

how to make sensory bottles My daughter helped me make these magnetic sensory bottles for my 2 & 3 year old preschool class. I took them in today and the kids had fun exploring with them. I sat with small groups and demonstrated then we  investigated the bottles letting them each make the magnets move and grove. The coolest discover was that we could make the bells jingle without shaking the bottle, just by moving the magnetic wand. That made my day, little discoveries like these are huge for young kids and tells me their little minds are engaged.

Here is how we made them.

Gather your materials. You will need some empty water bottles with lids, filler like pom poms, beads, colored beans, foil wrapping paper cut into small squares etc… You will also need some filler that is magnetic like pipe cleaners, jingle bells, and magnetic disks, hot glue gun, washi tape, and a magnetic wand. how to make sensory bottles

Start by filling your bottles with the regular filler. I had some help! holiday sensory bottles for preschool

If you are using pipe cleaners in your bottles cut them into small pieces. A tip for doing this without bits flying everywhere- bend the pipe cleaners around the scissors and hold both ends. sensory bottles for preschool with magnets

Add the magnetic filler. magnetic sensory bottles for toddlers

Glue the tops on. I add just a little hot glue on the inside of the caps then screw them on. Then I add a little more on the outside. christmas sensory bottles with magnets

Wrap a few layers of tape on top to make it pretty and add a little extra protection from the bottles being opened. Please remember that even with the glue kids can find ways into things we never expect them to get into. These like all our activities require close adult supervision. christmas sensory play

Time to test them out. christmas science for kidsShe loved making the pipe cleaners dance through the foil wrap but her big discovery was that she could lift one of the bottles up with just the magnetic wand!magnetic sensory bottles for christmas

 

Homemade Bubble Solution and Whisk Bubble Wands

homemade bubble solutionThis was a completely kid directed activity. While I was finishing up a conference call my daughter was digging through the kitchen drawers and found her whisks. These were bought for her to play with and as I hung up she showed me that she had opened them up to make flowers. Immediately I said to her ” do you know what I think we could use those for?”

“Bubbles!” was her response and I was giddy to see that we were on the same page. I dug through my pantry to see if we had any corn syrup to make the bubble solution I used to make in day camps 400 years ago. It was hiding behind the cookies that I had hidden behind the pasta.

Here is my NOT AT ALL precise recipe for homemade bubble solution.

homemade bubble solution using stuff you have in your kitchen

1 tablespoon of corn syrup
1/4 cup of dish soap
fill the rest of the measuring up ( 2 cups) with warm water and stir.

homemade bubble potion

I made the first batch myself but she helped with the second.

whisk bubbles

She LOVED this. The bubbles weren’t great to blow out of the whisks but if you dipped them in and then waved your arms and they made huge big bubbles.bubbles collage

She practiced and sometimes they were little , but sometimes they were huge. What I adored about this incredibly simple activity is that she was attacking it like an experiment ( with zero input from me to suggest she should) and tried to recreate the big bubbles by following what worked and avoiding the actions that resulted in the little bubbles. big bubbles

Shell Letters – Alphabet Activity

learning activity letter formationThe beach and playdough are two of our very favorite things. Put them together and you have the perfect tactile summer letter activity. My daughter has been able to recognize her letters for a long time as well as their sounds but forming those letters is still something we are working on often. This alphabet activity combines textures to make creating letters truly hands on.  As you will see after the initial activity she modified it for more play while I sat back and marveled at how quickly she went from a baby to a child… some days you just need to stare at them don’t you?

Gather your materials. You will need some shells, playdough, a cutting board or other playdough friendly surface, card stock, marker, some fun containers and a little letter engineer ready to explore.shell letters letter recognition for kids

I made little letter cards and since our shells were so rigid I only wrote out letters with straight lines like A, E, F, K, etc…beach shell letters

Start by setting things up. When I make an invitation to learn like this I usually have it set up so she knows what to do and then let her explore with out me interjecting. In a classroom I would have this set out on a table and allow the students to come and go ( or not come and go) as they pleased.shell letter cards

First she pressed the playdough down into a flat surface.shell playdough letters

Then she dove right in using the shells to create letters that matched the cards.making letters with shells and playdough

Some took more planning than others.thinking sabout how to do it shell letters

Then she changed things up and started using the shells to write in the playdough. writing with shellsAs the play shifts encourage the exploration. Activities like this are invitations and when they start exploring like this please don’t stop them. She was still learning and having fun even if she wasn’t still doing the planned activity. That is not a bad thing, roll with their discovery! shell letters explore

 

 

 Books About The Beach

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At-The-Beach-

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell .A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt is hilarious, I actually snorted while reading it. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in with a great story. Before you even start flipping pages on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.

what lives in a shell?

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is great book in my favorite science series the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out . This book is a little long for toddlers but really great for preschoolers and easy to break into parts. The book starts talking about snails, then moves to turtles and finally sea shells. Like the others in the series this book break down facts to a preschoolers level without loosing any substance. If you are looking for a non fiction book for your little one, you must check out this series, they are hands down my favorite non fiction for young children.

Painting Snow

outside activities for kids I know most of you have had a ton of snow this year but we just got our only real snowfall this weekend. My kids were all over it. After we made Olaf in the snow ( seriously check him out ) we warmed up and while having hot chocolate I noticed our water table full of snow and sprang into action! Having spent my first 26 years in Canada I have painted the snow many many times but never with my own kids. This can get messy so have old towels ready , other than that explore and have fun mixing colors in the snow.

Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plastic cups, paint brushes, snow, and a water table or large shallow container for the snow. color mixing in the snow

Fill your container with snow and pour all different color paint int he cups. One color per cup.

Call a little one to come and make a mess. My daughter was more than happy to oblige. color mixing outside in the snow

Paint.paint snow

 

Mix.paint the snow and have fun

 

When you run our of area to paint just grab some more snow ,pack it on top , and keep painting! painting the snow and color mixing

When it was time to come in I had a bowl of warm water and oxyclean ready for her mitts. The paint came off easily!snow painting activity for kids

How do you get creative in the snow?

Books About Snow

winter books for kids

Check out some of our favorite books about snow . You can find the reviews for all of these books here.