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.

 

Swamp Sensory Tub

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.

  1. 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.sensory fun for kids
  2. My daughter helped me make the gelatin. I followed the directions on the back for fruit jellies doubling the recipe.fun things for kids
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. And play they did.sensory tub ideas
  7. My son loved flopping the gelatin into the water side and it was neat to see how it would sink  to the bottom.sensory tub with jello
  8. 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.jello sensory bin
  9. 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,sensory ideas for toddlers and we noticed the imprints they made too.  gelatin sensory bin We’ll see how many days we can keep it going!

Star Color Matching & Sensory Tub

space theme for daycare

Stars , space and rockets are a theme that has never really lost it’s luster at our house. My son who is 5 1/2 is not as keen on sensory tubs as he once was ( or so I thought) so I set this one up with a little reading and matching activity. If I was doing this for younger kids I would have a few rocket ships and a few cups for pouring and transferring and skip the matching activity completely. As it turned out I misjudged my son and you will see that even at 5 1/2 that simple is wonderful.It’s great for space themes, learning about shapes and even fine motor practice!

  1. Gather your materials. For the sensory tub you will need dried black beans, bright star buttons and some tools like spoons and containers to dig and pour. For the matching activity I also used a chocolate box liner, some paper, scissors and marker.sensory play for kids
  2. Pour the beans and the buttons in. You could add sparkles but you will never be able to use the beans for another non sparkly tub again and cleaning it off the buttons if you want will be impossible. I like to re-use my sensory tub innards so we kept it simple. space theme daycare
  3. If you want to make the matching container you can do it a few ways. For my son I wrote the words including light and dark blue and hot pink because we’ve been talking about different shades of colors. For pre readers simply use a marker in each color to write the word. matching activity
  4. Other than setting up I just let him go. He read all the words to start.
  5. Then got down to business sorting and matching. Don’t be surprised if they start counting while they sort. Everything is a competition at our house right now and so as he was sorting he was keeping me updated to which color was in the lead.
  6. After he’d had enough he filled the extra squares with beans using his hands , then  grabbed a spoon, dumped the buttons out and and started carefully scooping the into the little squares one by one.
  7. Then we got a big container and filled it  ( with the pot from our play kitchen) so his little sister could enjoy the stars too. sensory playShe loves rolling it around and how loud it is when she does. stuff for toddlers

So even though I had a more directed activity ready I am thrilled he used it as a start but then directed the rest himself. I am just glad we had all the tools he needed.

 

Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub

rainbow gelatin sensory tub

I know tomorrow is Valentine’s Day but my mind is already planning St.Patrick’s Day. If you need a Valentine’s Day craft idea we have those too but I had to share this because it was too much fun to keep to ourselves any longer. The major bonus of this project was that for toddlers who are putting everything in their mouths it’s no biggy if they take a bite. I added koolaid to make it smell great and sour to discourage eating it. This must be kept in the fridge so make some , you won’t regret it.

  1. Gather your materials. I used 6 foil pans I had on hand but any container will work to set the gelatin, you will need plain gelatin packets 4 per color, food color, spoons, a pot, measuring cups and koolaid for scent/added color. Also a big tub and some bath toys for playing.rainbow gelatin sensory tub
  2. Start by mixing your colors. I used koolaid mostly for scent but also for color.
  3. Make the gelatin. I used the recipe on the back of the knox gelatin box adjusting it to  1/2 as much liquid ( 1/2 cup of cool and 1 cup hot and 4 envelopes of gelatin) as the recipe called for to make it thicker for play using plain water with color/ koolaid in it. I made all 6 colors.rainbow gelatin sensory tub
  4. Let cool – I had to stack them in my fridge so I popped a few in the freezer for a minute to stiffen and totally forgot about this purple one… if froze, and was unusable. The kids didn’t miss it at all.
  5. When set slice into pieces. I used a knife then scraped it into the tub using a spatula.
  6. Add kids and toys. He was so excited he was bouncing, this is the best picture of many very blurry bouncy pictures I took.Rainbow Sensory Tub
  7.  You can probably tell we did this in our bathroom, please find a place where tiny bits of color won’t ruin anything. The gelatin won’t stain hands but can be absorbed into clothes and other fabrics. Please go somewhere where kids can have fun without you hovering and you won’t have to search for stain removers on Pinterest after this project. Our bathroom was perfect, I had a damp cloth handy for little bits that got shaken off hands or toys and flung all over. It also had a door to stop kids from running into the rest of the house before hands were washed. All this said it was still completely worth it.

    Rainbow Sensory Tub

  8. They stuck them on the side of the tub.
  9. Smelled it. Rainbow Sensory Tub
  10. Tasted it ( love my son’s face, he’s telling her not to eat it). Rainbow Sensory Tub
  11. Mixed them all up and had a blast. Rainbow Sensory Tub

Sensory Play Snow

by Kim

 

Not everyone gets snow. Not everyone that gets it likes to take their kids out in it. I came across a neat recipe for “snow” on Pinterest. {By the way, if you are not on Pinterest you should be! Allie’s stuff is all over the place around there, too. ;) } You can find the original post about it here on Flights of Whimsy. She calls it cloud dough, I call it snow.

I made half of the recommended amount she posted. So for my version you will need:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil

Yes, baby oil. Your room is going to fill with the sweetest little smell and take you back to milk breath (without the sleepless nights, of course).

You and your child can count out the scoops it takes to equal 4 cups. Go ahead and let them dump it in.

Now measure out 1/2 cup of baby oil. Your child can easily pour this right on the mountain of flour.

First my daughter stirred with a spatula. Then she mixed it with her hands because it will clump a little. It is very easy to break up and continue mixing, though.

The texture is so nice. If your children have played with Moon Dough, it is very similar. It is light and fluffy. The scent is very relaxing. This is a fantastic sensory project. We mixed ours in a bowl, but moved it to a bin to play.

It molds easily. We used small bundt cake pans to make mounds and igloos. But the favorite was snowballs, which we threw into the mixing bowl to watch them shatter.

The dust from this does initially stick to your hands, but it brushes off remarkably easy.

 

 

Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.