Even though I wish all summer could be spent outside rainy days or too hot days means more time inside and for antsy toddlers that can be hard. This activity occupied my 2 year old for a good 40 minutes and she had fun too. Below are a few tips on how to make play like this last longer without sparing the fun.
- Gather your materials. We grabbed an apron, a pot, some corks, spoons and a ladle . We also used dish soap half way through.
- Start by filling the sink and asking your child if they want to cook.
- Let them play.
- Without prompting she through corks in and then scooped them out and into the pot. Can you say hand eye coordination development ?
- She mixed and splashed . When she was tiring of it I asked if she wanted to look at all the different tools for cooking. She loved the whisk.
- Next I asked if she wanted bubbles…of course that was a yes too .
- The whisk was extra fun in the bubbles. She even caught a cork.
- For us the sign that she was done was that these big waves turned into let’s make Mama wet even after reminders that the water stays in the sink. You will find your child’s own end signs where gentle redirection fails and every day will be different, some days this will last a long time others it just won’t. It’s not you or your child it’s just the way it is, if it fails try again another day.
Throughout the pretend play I followed her lead. She told me it was cheese soup and I asked her questions about her cheese soup, about cooking etc… I know that pretending doesn’t come naturally to all parents but try to at least ask a few questions and indulge their imaginations. It’s ok to feel silly sometimes even if it doesn’t come naturally.
I had grand plans for dying rice, finding star shaped containers and some flags for a 4th of July sensory bin but life got in the way and I ran out of time. So yesterday when my daughter and I had some time alone and quiet ( after weeks of family and running around) I used it to make this simple sensory activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need a tray or pan some shaving cream, paint ( finger paint works great!) , glitter and some tools for mixing like paint brushes , spoons and spatulas.
- Spray the shaving cream in.
- Add the paint. I started just by squeezing it on, then used a brush to make it look like fireworks . My daughter couldn’t care less she is 2 and has only ever seen them once . The goal for her is to mix and explore.
- Add glitter! For you who aren’t keen on glitter you will like this , the glitter doesn’t spread all over. Ready for the kiddo- who was napping. Luckily the cream stays fluffy.
- Time to explore. She immediately went for the tools I had laid out for her.
- Asked for a napkin when she got some on her fingers.
- Mixed and mixed.
While she was exploring I narrated some, asked her what she saw, what she liked… but didn’t direct . Let them explore until they start throwing it on the floor or push away from the table. The great thing about this is that it really does last longer than you’d think. Hours later when my son got home from the beach with his dad he gave it a few mixes too.
You know those moments of parenthood when you say “never” and then a few years later you eat your words. Yeah. I said I’d never let my son play with toy guns and while I still don’t buy the actual toy guns we do allow figurines with guns, pretend play with finger guns etc… I know not every family allows it and others find there to be nothing wrong with weapon play at all. Like everything on our site use what will interest your child. I preach to follow their interests and find ways to teach using them and right now my son’s biggest interest is history , specifically WWII. This playdough activity isn’t just shooting each other it’s an invitation to play and learn.
- Gather your materials. We used plastic soldiers ( ours were specific WWII that came with an American and German flag), playdough we used every package we could find in the house, craft sticks, pompoms ( these were bombs) and your imagination.
- I just gave him the supplies and let him go.
- He built bunkers, trenches and special huts. This play is amazing fine motor work both molding the playdough and placing the small figurines.
- Later he created prisons for the POWs and I didn’t get a shot of it but we made a hill and water to make a D-Day beach.
- While playing we talked about all sorts of things. I do not want to glorify war but instead talk about the sacrifices everyone involved made, talk about why there was a war and how no matter what side the soldiers were on they have families who missed them. My husband and I have sat down together to decide what we think our son can handle as far as facts about history so when he asks us ” Tell me a story about World War Two.” we know what the other is telling him and not telling him for now.
- Don’t forget just to have fun too. I know sometimes I need to remember this . He played for at least 2 hours, stopping briefly only for lunch. More than a few times he told me ” Mommy I love history!” let’s hope he carries that through school!
It’s gooey , it’s gross and it’s green! It’s a swamp and this sensory play idea was a huge hit with both my 5 year old and my toddler. It was surprisingly easy to make and a great way to spend some chill time outside. Sensory play is so much more than squishing things it’s about discovering with all your senses and pretend play as well. My kids spent a good about of time simply making sounds with the goo, sounds like glurp, goop, glug, squish , slip , slurp. It was fun to see how they both narrated their experience and the giggles were amazing too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some gelatin ( I used plain because I had it on hand and added kool-aid for color but plain jello without the sugar should work too). You will also need a large container, pool noodle, some plastic swamp creatures, water and a large tub or water table to play in.
- My daughter helped me make the gelatin. I followed the directions on the back for fruit jellies doubling the recipe.
- I love that by using kool-aid the gelatin smells awesome and is so tart even if kids do taste it , they spit it out. Also I used this old animal cracker container because it was a perfect fit for a space I had in my fridge. And it had a lid which was important since it was at kid level too. We let the gelatin set overnight in the fridge even though ours was ready to go in about 3 hours.
- We cleaned the water table ( it had dirt and rocks in it from our last play adventure) – this was an activity all on it’s own.
- Then the next morning after the gelatin was nice and set I filled one side with the gelatin and the other with water – added sliced pieces of pool noodle for lily pads and just enough creatures to invite play.
- And play they did.
- My son loved flopping the gelatin into the water side and it was neat to see how it would sink to the bottom.
- My daughter loved squishing and squishing and squishing . I just kept taking pictures and soaking up the giggles. Did I mention it smelled amazing too, much better than a real swamp.
- In the afternoon the sun melted the gelatin and my kids were bummed but we covered it and sure enough the next morning it was all congealed again and they had an absolute blast pulling the creatures out of the goo, and we noticed the imprints they made too. We’ll see how many days we can keep it going!
Once nice weather makes it our way in the Seattle area we run outside and stay until the rains come. We have been playing outside a lot and I needed something that both kids could be engaged in so I wasn’t trying to watch one outside while the other was inside . This was the ticket , you will see that they weren’t doing the same thing at the same time but everyone was happy and I sat in the sun listening to giggles under a blue sky. Pretty perfect, of course I had to strip them both down at the door so my carpets weren’t ruined but that’s the price you pay for fun. As you will see there was lots of learning happening too.
Gather your materials. We grabbed a bunch of different sized containers, some spoons, shovel and bucket. We have raised beds in our yard with soil in them so we used that too.
We dug some dirt.
They got water together
And that’s when we lost my wee girl. She decided she’d play with water – and drink a lot of it.
My son was deep in mud soup making. He soon noticed that if he put the dirt on the water it sank. We talked about why while my daughter continued to drench herself at the tap.
He counted and added bits of weeds, leaves, flowers, rocks, clovers…
Then pretended to give it a taste before adding a little more of this or that.
Oh look who came back to see what we were up to. She finally joined in adding dandelions and water.
Then I sat watching them play soaking up the giggles.
What’s your favorite outside activity with your kids?