I noticed on Pinterest a comment on a pin of my Sensory Tub from Halloween 2010. The commentor noted that I use the same container ( usually yes) and just store the contents in ziplocks ( yes again I have close to 20 bags). That comment sparked this post. My son had been asking for a Halloween sensory tub since we bought the bouncy ball eyeballs a few weeks ago. My goal was to make one that both he and his baby sister ( 15 months) could use. This is what we did.
- Gather your materials. I grabbed my Halloween Sensory Tub contents from 2009 and 2010 – which included black beans, white beans, orange lentils for the fill. Then sticky skelletons, plastic spiders and other bugs, bouncy ball eyeballs , a few pumpkin containers , a scoop and some tongs. Do not feel like you need to have all of this! My main goal is to show that you can mix two old ones to make a new one.
- For the toddler version I started by putting in the dried beans and lentils. Then chose only the large plastic bugs and pumpkin containers.
- You may notice she is on a small rug. If you are doing this on the floor a carpeted floor works the best, the beans don’t skatter as far.
- Encourage them to keep the beans in , but please don’t scold. If spilling makes you angry just skip this activity all together. Gently show toddlers how to keep it in but until children have lots of experience with sensory tubs use only positive guidance. Anger will confuse them and halt any play and learning that was happening.
- Feel free to have them put beans back in though !
- Into the pumpkin!
- Now for older kids add the as my son calls it ” good stuff!” We did this when my daughter was daddy so it wouldn’t be unfair for her to see her brother playing but be told she can’t.
- I challenged him to pick up the balls with the tongs – it was tricky!
- He decided to pick out all the skelletons.
- Then he decided to create a skelleton world on the playroom floor, and the eye balls were bombs? Something like that. He asked if he could play it for his quiet time. Ummm yeah! I love how fun mama directed activities almost always lead to something for him to explore and lead himself.
When I stored this sensory tub I used 2 ziplocks, and picked out all the big kids stuff into one, the toddler safe in the other and store them next to eachother for fast fun for either kid.
** Please remember that it’s your job to know what is safe for your child and what your child is ready for . All activities require adult supervision. **
I bought these fruity cheerios for a fun craft at my daughter’s birthday party and decided to use them for a few more crafts and put it all together for you. These smell awesome! Which make them even more fun to use for crafts since they add a deeper sensory experience for kids. Each of these activities are distinct but so simple you could do them all in one day or spread over years!
Fruity O Sensory Tub
This was a fun colorful tub for my daughter to play with. Using the cheerios let her explore with scooping and pouring with something that although I don’t usually have it in her diet if she did ingest it I wouldn’t be concerned. I didn’t encourage her to eat this though as I treated it like any other sensory tub where we are not suppose to eat. I should note that she’s never been fed these so they were not immediately thought of as food. As with any activity with young kids this is only to be done under immediate supervision , only you know if your child is ready for an activity, look at your child’s abilities not the age recommendation.
- Gather your materials . You will need a container ( I love light ones for babies so if they pull it off the table by accident you have a mess but no injuries). You will need a few cups of fruity cereal and fun tools to scoop with . You may also want some painters tape.
- Add a few loops of tape to your table and tape down your tray.
- Add cereal.
- Add tools and toddler !
- Watch out for fast moving preschoolers too!
This was impromptu and as you will see it evolved as we went. My original vision was not what my son wanted to make , so we changed it up mid craft. I like his vision better anyway and the end result was a really fragrant flower!
- Gather your materials. You will need some fruity cereal, a paper plate, a sheet of colored paper, scissors and white glue.
- Start by gluing the paper plate in the middle of the paper and drawing the petals with glue.
- Add your cereal to the petals. Which he did… for a bit.
- He decided that just putting one color on each wasn’t “seriously cool” but if we filled the middle , that would be.
- So that’s what we did! There are enough power struggles in every day life with preschoolers if they don’t like the craft and want to change it go with it, it’s great if they have an idea they want to make.
- Let it dry.
- Cut out.
Fruity O Butterfly Necklaces
I loved these Butterfly treats from TeachMama and knew when I decided to use a butterfly theme for my daughter’s first birthday party that I’d need a craft for the kids to do. So I changed it up a little by turning it into a necklace craft. The craft table was busy even though the sun was out at the party, and these are a fun craft to do any time.
- Gather your materials. You will need fruity O’s cereal, sandwich baggies, and some craft lace.
- Start by filling the baggies with a handful of cereal.
- zip it and separate the cereal to the edges.
- Wrap a cut piece of craft lace around the middle and tie.
- When making it into a necklace loop the craft lace through one o first to make an easy stopper so kids can string the cereal on without them zipping off the end.
- Lace and tie . At the party we had kids from 2-8 enjoying this craft.
My mom returned from an Alaskan cruise with this super cool mining hat for my son and I knew I wanted to use it as a prop for an activity. He is all about pretend play and dress up The same way I use super heroes to get him excited to write I used this new hat for this fun sensory activity. Even though we used magnets you could do this with pinchers , a small scoop or just wee little hands! Older kids ready for magnets though will love how the wand helps them mine for the ” diamonds”.
- Gather your materials. You will need some dried beans , lentils or rice, a container, a magnetic wand with steel ringed chips or marbles .
- Pour the dried beans/ rice in the container. A lot of parents email me saying that they are shocked that their 4-7 year olds still like sensory bins. I am not surprised in the least. Especially when you have them help make them and there is a little task involved ( though never required).
- Add the magnetic chips – we were pretending they were diamonds.
- Start mining. Count, sort do whatever you want with the treasures you mine.
- The only thing you must do is have fun!
Mole Music by David McPhail is a beautiful book about the power of music, trying hard and not giving up on your dreams. The story is about a mole who sees a violin on TV one day and decides to get his own and play. He is terrible at first but sticks with it. His music becomes beautiful, and over the years he thinks only he can hear and enjoy it. In reality his music is nourishing a grand tree above the ground that serves roles in great things including as a mediator in a battle where both sides end up coming to a peaceful agreement instead of warfare. Now yes I think that one little mole’s music ending a war is a rather large statement but if you break it down, music and the arts are vital and do transform people’s lives the way they transformed Mole’s. My favorite part is in one illustration Mole is playing and in another tunnel you can see his old TV discarded and tipped over, I like that message.
Sensory bins are such great teaching tools and for this one I wanted it not just to look like a spring garden but to feel like one too. So we stuck with earthy natural colors, all natural contents ( minus the tongs and pots) and talked about how we can ( and will) plant some of the beans from the bin and track it’s growth. The big lima beans we used are big enough to be a chocking hazard for little ones so remember to only use contents that fit your children’s specific level of development.
- Gather your materials. You will need some dried split peas, large dried Lima beans, dried orange lentils, dried white beans, mini bow tie pasta and some small flower pots. You will also need a tub – this one was a dollar at Walmart.
- Start by pouring the dried beans and lentils into the tub.
- Next add a handful of butterflies ( the dry bow tie pasta).
- Add some mini flower pots and explore.
- My son was fascinated by the lima beans , they are not a staple on our dinner table.
- You can simply scoop and pour with the flower pots
- Or grab some tongs and sort and count.
Books About Gardening
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle is a story about a tiny seed who unlike the other seeds from his flower makes it against all odds to continue the cycle of life. I really enjoy this book and love how it shows all the obstacles along the way for a simple little seed. Carle’s distinctive collage will keep your children marveling at the illustrations while learning about plants.
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart Is a really touching book that I would happily recommend for school age children. It’s a beautiful story about a little girl during the depression who is shipped to the city to work in her uncle’s bakery because both her parents are out of work. She is obviously nervous but knows that it’s something she has to do. She takes a little of the country with her in seed packets which she plants in the city while she learns about baking and becomes friends with her uncles employees. This is more a story about making the most of hard times, and would be a great way to talk about the great depression with your child. There are so many little things in the illustrations by David Small to talk about , from a picture of FDR to traveling by train and the general sense of sadness . In the end it’s a warm hearted book that I can’t wait to share with my son in a few years.