Dollar Store Salt Tray { Alphabet Activity }

learn to write Writing letters in salt or sand is a classic Montessori activity. They give children a sensory experience while also learning how to form letters. What I have always loved about salt trays is that if a child doesn’t like how their letter turned out they can gently shake it and start again. These items were all bought at the dollar store . You could easily make 4 salt trays for $4 with the supplies listed. Exploring letters in all different ways lets kids experience them and make meaningful connections. Do not worry about how perfect the letters are at this stage, let them explore them and get used to the different kinds of lines and curves that go into them all. This post is part of our Alphabet for Starters series , a series of posts that aim to make learning the alphabet fun and creative instead of full of rote memorization. See more from that series here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a sharpie, scissors, salt, and a pie plate( came in a pack of 4). You could also use a cookie sheet, shoe box lid or casserole dish. dollar store salt tray
  2. Cut the sentence strips into smaller cards. You could also use flash cards but as you might guess I don’t have any on hand .dollarstore salt tray alphabet activity
  3. Write out letters with the sharpie. You can write uppercase, lowercase, or a mix like I did. Go at whatever pace your child is at but don’t forget to put in a few challenges. For beginners stick with straight line letters like L , T, H  and the completely curves ones like C and O they have always been easier in my experience that when you mix the two together. We want kids at this age to have some initial success before we challenge them so that their confidence helps carry them through the harder bits. dollar store alphabet activity
  4. Pour in the salt. My daughter LOVED this so much we did it many times over…. and my porch still has salt on it. salt tray activity
  5. Stack the cards and start writing.dollar store learning letters with a salt tray My daughter who turned 3 in June had a touch time with some of the letters but when I explained to her she could shake and try again she perked up. alphabet activities for preschool In one sitting she did 6 letters. Do not expect to go through the whole alphabet especially with a 3 year old or an older child new to this activity. learning to form letters with a salt tray

z

Alphabet Books

f

z is for moose

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious alphabet book that will have you and your child giggling throughout. The books is all about a zebra who is making an alphabet book and his over zealous friend Moose who is very very excited to be involved. So excited in fact that he can’t wait for M to be called and ends up crashing a bunch of other letters. When M does come he’s been replaced by a mouse. Moose’s reaction will turn your kids giggles into chuckles and all the while they will be working on letter recognition. Love this book!

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks.  My one complaint is that the child is tucked into bed then a few letters later is out listening to a story from another woman not their mom. I am not sure perhaps those are different children, didn’t bug my son one bit, but left me wondering. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say often ” Go To Sleep!”.

Alphabet Under Construction

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too.Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

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Sea Glass Sensory Tub { safe for little hands }

mod meltsOne of my very favorite things to do when I had some downtime is to go to the beach and search for sea glass. It’s such a calm and focused activity. My daughter really wants to help but doesn’t have the patience to search for very long. So when I was asked to check out the new Mod Podge Mod Melts for a sponsored post I knew just how I could create something for her while trying out this new product. This sea glass sensory tub was a huge hit. My daughter has (finally) moved past the mouthing stage and so these little shapes are fun and great for her fine motor development too . If your child is still putting things in their mouth try larger items like big seashells and try this out when they are ready.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some play sand , a tray or container, Mod Podge Mod Melts and mold , a high temp glue gun, paint and a jar.mod podge melts sea glass
  2. Start by creating your “sea glass” the melts are easy to use . all you need to do is place the melt sticks in your glue gun like you would a glue stick. Fill the mold and wait. Our heart n=mold was small so I only waited about 5 minutes and them popped it out. mod podge melts craft idea Make many.mod podge make your own sea glass
  3. Paint! We used acrylic paint in green and blue . I painted 1/3 blue, 1/3 green and left the rest plain. I am not sure how well my camera captured it but it really looks like sea glass! The paint dries quickly if you use a sponge to apply it.mod podge melts beach glass sensory bin
  4. Pour your sand into the tray or container.mod podge beach sensory bin
  5. Add your “sea glass” I hid some under the sand and put some above .modge podge melts
  6. Invite your beach comber to come and search. My daughter immediately dove in.  mod podge beach glass sensory bin
  7. Pop them into the jar .mod podge melts sea glass counting activity
  8. After you have found them all scatter them and count. Next she hid them all and repeated every step. This is a pretty intuitive activity I wasn’t having to hover or instruct. I think I showed her the jar without any clear instructions and the rest she figured out and explored with me clicking pictures and enjoying how intent she was.mod podge melts counting beach glass sensory bin
  9. She even gave me a heart for my sea glass collection .mod podge melts make your own beach glass

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This post as mentioned above is part of a paid campaign for Mod Podge Melts with The Blueprint Social.
 
 

Sensory Tub Painting

painting outsideIf you read my post Monday you may have heard my dear daughter is trying to give up her nap. If she refuses to sleep we go outside if possible. This art activity was so much fun. We use our water table as big sensory tub and with this activity we also turned it into an open ended art activity. The results were awesome.  This super simple sensory tub painting will be done over and over all summer I promise you!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a water table ( we love ours and use it daily) but a large shallow Rubbermaid type bin would work perfectly too. Paint, some brushes and plain paper.  You may also want a hose ready for clean up.sensory tub painting supplies
  2. Start by letting your child choose some paint colors . sensory tub paint and print
  3. Paint the inside of the tub. sensory tub printsExplore. She made squiggles with both ends of the paint brushes, added more paint, sensory painting outside pretended to drive the cap all around the paint , and mixed with her hands. sensory tub water table painting
  4. Next grab some paper and print! I was amazed at how well these turned out. They were all different and totally rad. sensory table print
  5. Hang up to dry. Finally I had a use for this trellis that has been bare since I killed the plant that was on it. I am good with kids, not so much with plants. sensory tub prints drying
  6. Now clean out the tub with the hose. Arguably the best part even though the painting was super fun. Who can compete with this? sensory tub hose
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Ocean Sensory Tub

ocean sensory binAnyone who thinks that sensory play is just for toddlers needs to see this post.  Since making the swamp sensory tub last year my kids have asked to do another one just like it.  I didn’t mean for so long to go by but we finally got around to it and this time made it into an ocean sensory tub with blue gelatin.  Play like this is fun and simple and perfect for summer . We leave ours out covered in our yard for a day or two and observe how the gelatin changes throughout the day. Please note that we live in the PNW in warmer climates leaving it out may not be a good option.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a container to make the gelatin in, a large container to play in, some fun sea animals and glass pebbles, plain gelatin ( I used 5 boxes) and some blue food coloring. You will also need a little bowl, scissors, many cups of water and a pot or kettle for the boiling water.ocean sensory play for kids
  2. Start by pouring all the gelatin into a little bowl – 5boxes = 20 packets of gelatin.ocean sensory play
  3. Boil 5 cups of water . Add a few drops of blue coloring to the water.
  4. Pour 15 cups of cool water into your container.
  5. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let rest for one minute.ocean sensory tub for kids
  6. Pour the boiling water in and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
  7. Hide in your fridge behind yogurt. Well that’s what I did because the last thing I wanted was blue gelatin all over my kitchen . When I made the rainbow gelatin sensory tub I spilled some blue and it it forever to get that stuff off.ocean hiding behind my yogurt
  8. When the gelatin is set about 3 hours ( ours was a little under done but the kids were eager) grab the sea animals and get the table prepared.ocean sensory bin set up
  9. They explored the gelatin before putting it in the table. Touching and tasting it. ” It tastes like zero, nada, nothing .” ocean sensory bin tasting it
  10. Then we added the gelatin.ocean sensory play dgd
  11. Play!! Clearly the 6 year old was into it. Literally.ocean sensory tub with gelatin
  12. Because ours was a little under done it was stickier than normal and required more washing off – so they ran to the water in our yard and cleaned themselves off.ocean sensory clean up

Construction Site Sensory Play & Books

by Allison McDonald bulldozer partyMy daughter is crazy about bulldozers right now and we’ve been playing with toy bulldozers in our sensory table . This is such a simple construction site play idea. No need for anything really special other than your child’s favorite construction vehicle. You will see I had a variety of them but her little orange bulldozer was firmly in her hand the whole time.

  1. Gather your materials. We used dried beans, cinnamon sticks, popsicle sticks , corks , empty ribbon spools, and construction themed toys and tools.construction site sensory play
  2. Start by filling your tub or table with the fillings. She loved pouring the beans in .construction site sensory bin
  3. As soon as the cinnamon sticks made their way in she was busy building a new kindergarten.  construction site pretend playSensory play like this offers so many opportunities to learn but don’t push it. Their imaginations will lead them and if you are present you will be able to find little moments to jump in but don’t feel you need to by any means.construction site play
  4. The main thing she wanted to do was build with her dad ( we did this on a Saturday so he was home to play) construction site play with dadand bulldoze things off the cliff. constrution site play for toddlersShe did a lot of sorting and counting without prompting from me.construction site learning

Construction Books

 

dig-dig-digging

Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo is one of the few books we have that we have bought twice. Our first copy was so well loved that we knew when it could not be read anymore that it would be immediately replaced. This book is imbedded in my brain ( and heart) because both my children have gone through a phase where it’s their absolute favorite. The book takes readers through different vehicles like firetrucks, rescue helicopters and of course bulldozers. The text is repetitive and will get stuck in your head for days but it’s ok because your kids will recite it along with you.

dazzling diggers

Dazzling Diggers (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton is part of the Amazing Machines series of books that are favorites of both my kids. Now my son reads them to my daughter and yes my heart bursts when he reads to her and it makes me completely forget when he tackles her.  The book themselves are little gems. This one talks about diggers and bulldozers with absolutely fantastic rhymes. What amazes me about this book is that your child will actually come away having learned something substantial about the vehicles in it at the same time as loving the brilliant rhyming text. Must read for construction vehicle fans.

Goodnight-Goodnight-Construction-Site

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker will have to be renewed from the library while I wait for my copy to come from Amazon. This book is starting to get pretty popular and rightfully so, it’s a lovely book. In it busy little construction vehicles wind down for the night and fall asleep. I never thought I would say an excavator was cute but the one in the book is. It’s a wonderful bedtime book and your child will enjoy winding down with the sleepy bulldozer and his friends. My daughter completely adores this book.

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