Anyone 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 go 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 few days and observe how the gelatin changes throughout the day.
- Gather your materials. You will need a container to make the gelatin in, a large container to play in ( we use our … ) , some fun sea animals and glass pebbles, plain gelatin ( I used 5 boxes) and some blue food coloring. You will also need a little bow, scissors, many cups of water and a pot or kettle for the boiling water.
- Start by pouring all the gelatin into a little bowl – 5boxes = 20 packets of gelatin.
- Boil 5 cups of water . Add a few drops of blue coloring to the water.
- Pour 15 cups of cool water into your container.
- Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let rest for one minute.
- Pour the boiling water in and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.
- 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.
- 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.
- They explored the gelatin before putting it in the table. Touching and tasting it. ” It tastes like zero, nada, nothing .”
- Then we added the gelatin.
- Play!! Clearly the 6 yer old was into it. Literally.
- 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.
by Allison McDonald My 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.
- Gather your materials. We used dried beans, cinnamon sticks, popsicle sticks , corks , empty ribbon spools, and construction themed toys and tools.
- Start by filling your tub or table with the fillings. She loved pouring the beans in .
- As soon as the cinnamon sticks made their way in she was busy building a new kindergarten. Sensory 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.
- The main thing she wanted to do was build with her dad ( we did this on a Saturday so he was home to play) and bulldoze things off the cliff. She did a lot of sorting and counting without prompting from me.
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 (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 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.The book links are affiliate links.
I keep the basics of sensory tubs in ziploc bags under the bottom shelf of my pantry and for days my daughter has been asking to play. Ours days have been nuts and whenever she asked was never enough time to play. Until this morning. I grabbed one of the bags from previous tubs and decided to make something extra special for my little princess obsessed girl. As soon as I told her it was a princess theme she insisted on wearing her full costume.
- Gather your materials. You will need a tub ( ours is a lasagna pan ) , white rice, multicolored sequins, princess figurines, beads or jewels, pompoms , glitter, small cups and some spoons. The things about these tubs are that there is no exact recipe you can add what you have making sure of course that whatever you add is something appropriate and safe for your kids.
- Start with just the basics in the tub . Our rice and sequins were already mixed so I popped it in the tub. Then invited my daughter to add what she wanted when she wanted. The princesses went in immediately .
- Next she added the pom poms and beads with a spoon. This is great for eye hand coordination .
- She spent a lot of time scooping and pouring and mugging for the camera before adding some glitter to the mix!
- Next she pretended it was soup and pretended to feed herself and her princesses. At some point she switched crowns too.This is what I love the most about sensory tubs , all the pretend play that blossoms as they explore. She asked for her pony and kept going.
- The sign she was done for me was this little face I caught on camera… that handful of rice didn’t end up in her mouth or in a tub as I snapped this picture I warned her if she threw it on the floor we would put the tub up.
- And that was her choice. We’ll play again another day. The rule of accidental spills being no biggie but if I warn my kids and they dump, pour or throw anything on the floor it’s the end of the fun, for today.
Princess Books For Little Readers
The Very Fairy Princessby Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s ok to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything
Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza! ** Edited for 2013 my daughter recently found this book and we have been reading it most nights this month . She loves it and sits happily through the whole book , laughs at the funny parts and while she doesn’t get all the subtleties she loves this book.
Good Night, Princess Pruney Toes by Lisa McCourt is a fun carefree book about a happy loving father and daughter. Princess Pruney Toes emerges from her bath to rule over her kingdom before bed. I love that the dad in this story follows along with his daughter’s imagination. I think it’s so important for parents to play with their kids and what’s better than pretend play? This lovely book is another fresh look at what makes a princess and that even princesses wishes can be easy to grant.
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.
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