Footprints in the Snow {Playdough Play}

winter play dough play for kidsMy 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.

simon says

She helped me mix the dry ingredients, foot prints in the snow play dough for toddlersI  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. footprints in the snow playdough activities

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.  snow playdoughWe 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. footprints in the snow playdough play 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. footprints in the snowwinter  play dough play for toddlers

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.footprint in the snow playdoh play

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Monster Muck Sensory Tub

cornstarch and shaving cream 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Start by spraying your shaving cream in. My son loved doing this and refused to let me have a turn .
  3. 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.
  4. Added the chenille stems and eyes and made some monsters. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.
  7. So we cut some more and the play continued.

 

Monster Books

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!

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21 Five Senses Activities For Kids

Five Senses Activities For Kids 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 .

Touch
Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub
Sandpaper Sun
Shaving Cream Puffy Paint Projects
Texture Sorting
Touch Box Guessing Game
Touch & Feel Alphabet

Taste
Ice Cream Taste Test
Paint & Eat Waffles
Wormy Dirt Treats
Yogurt Painting

Smell
Coffee Grounds Sensory Tub
Fruity Scented Playdough
Smelly Painting

Sight
Backyard Photo Safari
Custom Eye Spy Book
DIY Light Box
Eye Spy Bag
Read & Find Game

Hearing
Box Sound Activity
Listen & Find Word Search
Sound Safari

Messy Sensory Tubs For Kids

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messy sensory tubs for kids 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.

Mud Soup
Beach Sensory Tub
Ice Fishing
Coffee Grounds Sensory Exploration
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Shaving Cream Fireworks
Ocean Sensory Tub
Butterfly Sensory Tub
Cloud Dough
Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub
Swamp Sensory Tub
DIY Water Table
Spring Bird Seed Sensory Tub

Cooking in the Sink – Sensory Pretend Play

water table ideas for preschool 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.

  1. Gather your materials. We grabbed an apron, a pot, some corks, spoons and a ladle . We also used dish soap half way through.
  2. Start by filling the sink and asking your child if they want to cook.
  3. Let them play.
  4. Without prompting she threw some corks in and then scooped them out and into the pot. Can you say hand eye coordination development ?
  5. 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.
  6. Next I asked if she wanted bubbles…of course that was a yes too .water play for kids
  7. The whisk was extra fun in the bubbles. She even caught a cork.
  8. 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.