This 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.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sandpaper, felt , yarn, crayons and scissors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Time to match up the shapes. 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 .
- 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.
- Add the yarn. 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.
Books About Carrots
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 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 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!
There is something so soothing about playdough. Some of my favorite memories from teaching were little conversations shared with students at the playdough table. At our house we play with playdough so much that one of our kitchen drawers is filled with containers of it and fun stuff for my kids to add to the play. Below are some of my favorite playdough activities we have shared over the last 5 years here. I hope your kids have as much fun with it as we do.
Footprints In The Snow – Winter Playdough
Playdough Toy Prints
Playdough Bakery Pretend Play
Explore Emotions with Mr. Playdough Face
Digging for Buttons in Playdough
Silly Hair – Playdough Play
Drinking Straws + Playdough
Slicing Watermelon Playdough
Practicing Cutting With Playdough
Playdough Gingerbread Men
I keep the basics of sensory tubs in ziploc bags under the bottom shelf of my pantry and for days my daughter has been asking to play. Ours days have been nuts and whenever she asked was never enough time to play. Until this morning. I grabbed one of the bags from previous tubs and decided to make something extra special for my little princess obsessed girl. As soon as I told her it was a princess theme she insisted on wearing her full costume.
- Gather your materials. You will need a tub ( ours is a lasagna pan ) , white rice, multicolored sequins, princess figurines, beads or jewels, pompoms , glitter, small cups and some spoons. The things about these tubs are that there is no exact recipe you can add what you have making sure of course that whatever you add is something appropriate and safe for your kids.
- Start with just the basics in the tub . Our rice and sequins were already mixed so I popped it in the tub. Then invited my daughter to add what she wanted when she wanted. The princesses went in immediately .
- Next she added the pom poms and beads with a spoon. This is great for eye hand coordination .
- She spent a lot of time scooping and pouring and mugging for the camera before adding some glitter to the mix!
- Next she pretended it was soup and pretended to feed herself and her princesses. At some point she switched crowns too.This is what I love the most about sensory tubs , all the pretend play that blossoms as they explore. She asked for her pony and kept going.
- The sign she was done for me was this little face I caught on camera… that handful of rice didn’t end up in her mouth or in a tub as I snapped this picture I warned her if she threw it on the floor we would put the tub up.
- And that was her choice. We’ll play again another day. The rule of accidental spills being no biggie but if I warn my kids and they dump, pour or throw anything on the floor it’s the end of the fun, for today.
Princess Books For Little Readers
The Very Fairy Princessby Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s ok to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything
Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza! ** Edited for 2013 my daughter recently found this book and we have been reading it most nights this month . She loves it and sits happily through the whole book , laughs at the funny parts and while she doesn’t get all the subtleties she loves this book.
Good Night, Princess Pruney Toes by Lisa McCourt is a fun carefree book about a happy loving father and daughter. Princess Pruney Toes emerges from her bath to rule over her kingdom before bed. I love that the dad in this story follows along with his daughter’s imagination. I think it’s so important for parents to play with their kids and what’s better than pretend play? This lovely book is another fresh look at what makes a princess and that even princesses wishes can be easy to grant.
I 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the smaller container and fill the open area with water. I filled mine with lukewarm water.
- Add animals and play. We kept ours low to the ground on 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.
- Talk about which animals stay on land , which live only in the water and which can swim and walk on land. We 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.
My daughter adores playdough and cooking so last week we made some simple white playdough and added snowflakes ( that promptly melted of course – duh! Add after it cools…) and then had fun playing pretend with some forest animals. This is about as simple as it gets but there are so many wonderful lesson possibilities packed in this simple play.
First we made the playdough. The recipe we used is my favorite .
Something I do with my daughter ( or the toddlers I taught when my own kids were only imaginary) is to play Simon Says before doing someting where I may have to say ” Don’t touch!” a lot. Instead of turning this activity into a negative one when I need her to not touch I simply say ” Simon says touch your nose!” As it turned out I didn’t even have to use this but we still had fun with our pre playdough making game.
She helped me mix the dry ingredients, I kneaded the dough while it was too hot for her to touch and gave her some extra flour to explore on the counter. I slipped in some glitter too.
This playdough is best after it’s chilled so we made it before nap time. Then after nap time it was ready to be played with.
I love these animal toys. They leave real footprints. We sat across the playroom table from each other and just started making prints. We looked at them, at which were bigger than the others and how many we could make from one side of the playdough to the other. Soon a storyline emerged the raccoon was saving the other animals from a “Snow bump” <– which is 2 year old speak for a snow bank. It was hilarious to watch her narrate a whole complex story line including some negotiation during the various rescues.
At this time of year with so much sparkle and wow and rush it’s a blessing to sit and be and take things slow and easy with a toddler . We’ve played this exact activity over and over and each time felt calm and connected after. Something I know most all of us can use right now.This post contains an affiliate link.