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.
I think I may have promised you that our Monster Math was going to be the last monster activity for a while but as you will see my kids are simply nuts for them so who am I to stop the fun? I got the idea for the muck from a pin I saw of this post by Lisa Murphy aka the Ooey Gooey Lady! I knew we had to make a muck sensory tub and I was so glad we did. My son loved mixing the muck and as you will see after my daughter woke from her nap she too got right into the much and made some monsters too.
- Gather your materials. The muck is super simple and requires only shaving cream and cornstarch. We added sun chenille stems I cut in quarters and a wide array of googly eyes that were sent to us from craftprojectideas.com . The other must have is a tub. I am not mess phobic but even I thought it got messy ( corn starch spreads ) if you are doing this inside you will want a tub to keep it contained.
- Start by spraying your shaving cream in. My son loved doing this and refused to let me have a turn .
- Next we sprinkled a little cornstarch and mixed then dumped the whole thing in and wrote some letters in the muck. It took some working to get it thick enough to mold but soon enough we could make balls.
- Added the chenille stems and eyes and made some monsters.
- My daughter woke up from nap and being too short to reach into the tub I helped her mold some balls and put them on a paper plate for her to customize with chenille stems and googly eyes.
- Next my son got busy making a monster muck fort . The stems are guns and goo blasters, the eyes are bomb detectors and the muck is radio active. So what I am saying is that this is a fantastic sensory activity that sparks one of the most important types of play kids need – imaginative play. They worked peacefully for what seemed like ages until the chenille stems ran out.
- So we cut some more and the play continued.
The Monster Princess by D.J. McHale is a story about a monster Lala who so wished she could be a princess only to discover in the end that being herself is even better. As I was reading this book I was really hoping that the three real princesses that befriend Lala would have more depth and not be the stereotypical mean girls that they are . Even after the mean princesses humiliate Lala she does the right thing and saves them when they are in danger. This book had a very predictable feel to it but I am 35 and have lived through mean girls on film many times and been on both sides of it in real life . To a young child this story is fresh and filled with good messages about doing what is right even when we are angry and hurt, discovering that what we dream about being may not be all it’s cracked up to be as well as my favorite message that there are ” All kinds of special.”
Molly’s Monsters by Teddy Slater is a counting book in monster’s clothes. The book is about a little girl named Molly who is just trying to sleep when her room is flooded with monsters. They come in progressively larger groups and my son liked counting to make sure the text was correct. My favorite part was that the first monster to arrive and the last to leave , never does leave and instead snuggles into bed with Molly. I also like that to get these pesky visitors to leave she turns on the light and makes a scary face and scares them. Clever. * I read this to my daughter for the first time just this week and she loved it so much it’s been read many times this week before nap and bed.
Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy. The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths… well you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner . Cute, your child will relate to it and it’s not at all scary!This post contains affiliate links
The Five Senses is a classic preschool theme because young kids learn through these senses. If you have ever watched a baby mouth objects it’s not because they are hungry or really really want to gross you out it’s because they are exploring how they feel with their mouths. These 21 activities are specifically designed with the a sense ( or more) in mind but even when you aren’t studying this theme specifically try to incorporate as many multi sensory activities in your child’s day .
Sensory tubs are fun and messy sensory tubs are even more fun, at least for the kids. Summer is a perfect time to take these outside and not worry about your floors while your kids explore. I am asked often how I handle sensory tubs and pouring everything out . If you saw this instagram showing my daughter pouring rice out you know I am not immune to this and you may notice it was taken outside on our porch. She is in a messy phase and I don’t want to just stop sensory exploration so I head outside too . The way I handle pouring out of the tub is that accidental spillage is no biggie but pouring it on the floor for the sake of pouring it on the floor gets one warning. If it happens again the tub is removed or child redirected to another activity but the key to getting them over this is you try again, same rules.
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Ocean Sensory Tub
Butterfly Sensory Tub
Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub
Swamp Sensory Tub
DIY Water Table
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