Put A Lid On It !



Nature Jar!

Toddlers and Preschoolers love to find things, this activity uses that natural curiosity and combines it with some fresh air ! We went to a nearby beach but you can do this at a park, forest or even your own backyard!

  1. Gather your materials. All you need is a glass jar and somewhere to discover nature!
  2. Start finding things to put in your jar. My son thought this clam shell was pretty cool but it was too big! I like to put a layer of sand or grass in first and then put larger things on top. With older children I would set out a mini scavenger hunt ( find 3 rocks, 5 leaves, 4 shells…) , toddlers will have a blast just picking things up and popping them in the jar.
  3. I tried to find all different shells, pointing out what color they were to my son, but he was more interested in rocks! Still I was shocked how well he walked along the beach searching for rocks to pop in!
  4. Keep going until the whining or in our case the rain starts.
  5. Pop the lid on and take the nature home with you to recount your day later!

* Recounting an activity is a great thing to do with your child, it is actually a very important skill and is important for early literacy , so sit down even with toddlers and pull out your jar and talk about what you did at the beach/park !

Splish Splash ! Let’s learn about water!

Exploring Water


Note to Parents: Relax, put down a towel and don’t you dare do this in the bath tub, kids love water and they need to have fun and explore how it feels, works and looks outside of the routine of a bath.

  1. Gather your materials. I like to use a container in relation to your child’s age. So the smaller the baby the smaller the tupperware ! You should never have anything large enough that a child could get into and cause themselves harm. You don’t need a huge container for a good time. You will also want some fun things to put in the water- oh and you may want to make sure anything you don’t want in the water is out of reach!
  2. Have fun pouring and if you have an older child, grab some measuring cups and measure out the water, pour it fast, or slow, try to make a teeny tiny trickle. Follow your child’s lead, if pouring is boring move on!!
  3. Get your testers ready- find things in your house for this experiment! Young toddlers will have fun splashing but I have done this experiment with kids as young as 2 successfully. Be animated, follow their cues and throw those toys in the water! As you pop them in ask your child if they think it will stay bouncy floating on top or if they will fall all the way to the bottom and sink.
  4. If your child likes to learn with words and charts make a simple chart like this one. You can test out each object and put them in the right colum. If your child just thinks it’s fun to put the wet toys on paper that’s cool too. Don’t push , we want them to explore.
  5. If you have an older child try making predictions before the experiment. I have always been amazed that the Melissa and Doug blocks don’t sink, they get me every time! I had to go searching for this car just so I had something to sink! Remember it’s great to admit that you thought one thing and were shocked to be proven wrong, discover things with your child !
Song


Note to Parents - I have met very few preschoolers ( and I know lots) that don’t love to sing, so why not!! Also when you sing with your child don’t worry about how you sound, they don’t care, in my opinion the sillier the better!

Here is one of my favorite songs with the water theme in it! This was always a big hit with my students. Click on the video to see how silly adults with no make up and messy hair are singing kids songs- and for the actions!

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five green and speckled frogs
sat on a speckled log
eating the most delicious bugs
yum yum !

One jumped into the pool
where it was nice and cool
now there are 4 green speckled frogs
ribit ribit!

Keep going until no more left!


Books


Here are some great picture books that support this theme, so if your child had fun with the water and or song you could introduce these books at a quiet , or not so quiet time too!

“Splash!” by Flora McDonell

“Water is Wet” by Penny Pollack

Note to Parentslet your young child take the lead, they are always learning , always absorbing and not everything HAS to be a teachable moment. Suggest and offer activities but be prepared to end things early or move on to something else, that is ok, normal and healthy! Learning doesn’t happen in a forced environment , but rather one rich in opportunities and experiences!

Feel and Learn

Texture Collage

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a piece of card stock or construction paper, some markers/ crayons, glue and then some smaller pieces of things like feathers, aluminum foil, sand paper- anything that can easily be glued on and have an obvious texture. I used some foam ( squishy), foil wrapping paper ( smooth) and feathers ( soft) .
  2. I had my son start out with markers, because writing / scribbling is an important skill so practicing it is fun and worthwhile, but you don’t need to do this step.
  3. Drizzle or have your child put some glue on the paper.
  4. Put the collage materials on one at a time, talk about how it feels when your child is handling it.
  5. With older children you can ask them to close their eyes , put the collage material into their hands and ask them what it feels like!

No Mess Color Mixers


This is a fast and fun activity that can be done with almost any age.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need one ziplock per child and a few colors of paint.
  2. Pour the paint into your bag , flatten as much air out as you can, and then seal it.
  3. If you want to make the lesson about color mixing you can wait and add in another color after playing with the first color for a while, asking your child if they know what color it will turn into.
  4. You can make letters, numbers and pictures too. Remember to ask your child how it feels, is it cold, soft? squishy?
  5. For added fun you can put different colored paper under your ziplock and the designs will be more colorful!

* You may be wondering why my little model isn’t doing this activity. I did let him play with it but all he wanted to do was chew the bag- trust me though the preschool classes I have done this with love it! You may just want to avoid doing it with toddlers who are cutting teeth! *

Books!

These two authors are childhood favorites of mine, as sentimental as these two books are to me they are also perfect for the theme at hand!

” A Rainbow Of My Own” by Don Freeman is a charming story about wanting a rainbow, you may notice that the colors are out of order but I have always used that as a teaching tool in my classes.

” Little Blue and Little Yellow”
by Leo Lioni 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!

Can you dig it ?!

Dig and Find ~ Sensory Activity


**This activity kept my little guy happy for much longer than expected and a huge mess was avoided , although you may want to do this outside or make sure your dust buster is handy.**

  1. Gather your materials. You can use rice, dried beans, or even unpoped popcorn but I am using oatmeal for two reasons, it’s handy and it’s easier to hide things in because it’s not slippery like the others. You will need a container, some scooping and digging utensils and some fun toys to hide.
  2. Pour your oatmeal into the container and hide a toy for your child to find.
  3. Dig it out and repeat! * I couldn’t get any pictures of my son grabbing the toy zebra, he did it so fast once he caught sight of it it was zoooom out of the oatmeal!

* Note about sensory activities: They are messy, but they are so important ! Children under five learn primarily through their senses. By feeling, seeing, smelling and touching during these activities they are learning spatial skills, fine motor skills among others. Also they can be very calm and soothing for kids which is a great thing!

Books!

My last trip to the library was a huge success, these are three great finds that would be great additions to any child’s bookshelf.


” Not Norman” by Kelly Bennet is a story about a little boy and his disappointing pet fish Norman. All great children’s books slip a lesson between the pages and this one is about how our first impressions aren’t always right. Friendships can take a while to grow but once they do they are solid, even with a pet fish named Norman.



” Edwardo the most horriblest boy in the whole world” by John Burningham is a must read for anyone who is in a position of authority among children, it is a poignant look at what happens when you scold and belittle a child and then what the outcome is when you praise. Great Book!

Peek-a-Moo” by Maria Torres Cimarusti is a great and simple book about animal sounds with flaps to lift for toddlers who need a little extra action to keep them interested.