Fall Farm Sensory Tub

One of our favorite things to do in the fall is to go to the Harvest Festival at a farm down the road. Last year we took our apples and pressed them into cider, the kids jumped off bales of hay and my son even rode a horse .  He  has been looking forward to this for a few weeks and when I asked him what sort of sensory tub we should make for his sister he suggested a fall farm sensory tub. So we went to the store to choose what to put in the tub. We looked at all the items and decided on a wild rice and lentil mix and popcorn. If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen this update. It was the trip to gather these items that nearly drove me to drink at 2pm. In the end the massive spill at the store was well worth it because the sensory tub was a hit . Do not miss the tips in the tutorial about what toddlers can gain from sensory bins.

  1. Gather your materials. We used dried wild rice, unpopped popcorn, dried lentils and fake apples and fake acorns. Sometimes I have the sensory tubs ready to go all pretty and presented and sometimes I have the kids help. The day we made this someone refused to nap so she helped with every step. Fist we gathered all the animals that belong on a farm from our playroom. This is a great basic sorting lesson for kids too.
  2. Next we poured our filling in. After putting the popcorn in we took time to draw letters in the popcorn. My daughter loved it . A fun sensory based letter activity.
  3. Add the wild rice, lentils, animals, vehicles,  and farmers ( you may recognize a few characters ).
  4. Play! At first her play consisted of putting animals on the tractor and laughing saying ” Dat animal no drive!” and then replacing it with a figurine of a person. Apparently this is seriously funny to a two year old. I was cracking up at her which was nice after our major shopping meltdown.
  5. Fine motor skills were next. These little apple sauce cups were a perfect for filling and spilling and she filled them one tiny grain at a time.
  6. She counted apples and only tried to eat one . Of all these activities within the activity only one writing in the popcorn was initiated by me. That’s the awesomeness of sensory tubs!
  7. When the filling started scattering on the porch on purpose I gave her one warning that if she threw it down on purpose that I’d pack it all up. Spills from regular play are not disciplined. Still two minutes later she was done and the tub looked like this.I keep the filling in the plastic bags and them inside ziplocs ( usually double them up to avoid bugs) and the toys in a bag so we can pull it out again in a flash. We normally play with one these for a few weeks. Repetition is a great thing for kids it’s not boring so don’t feel like you need a bright shiny new thing every day.

Books

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her.  The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s  calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons.  A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka is such a fun fall book for kids. Every page is filled with funny mix ups like Showing pictures of Bears gathering nuts and geese hibernating. My son loved the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner of all candy! I read this to both my kids and while my 2 year old liked the pictures and laughed a long with her 5 year old brother really she was just giggling because he was. My son however thought it was hilarious and corrected each picture as we read. The illustrations by Chad Cameron are stunning as well and a perfect accompaniment to the silly text. If this book doesn’t make you crave a pumpkin spice latte I don’t know what will. Very cute book!

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson was as good as I expected it to be and I am a fan of the author. The story has just the right amount of rhyme, rhythm and absurdity that makes for a great picture book. Readers follow along as the farmer feeds all the animals their traditional foods except the cow, the cow loves cookies. The text is paced so well that you can’t help but read it in a sing song and the repetition lends itself to listener participation. Even on the first read your kids will be adding in ” But the cow loves cookies!” . While having fun kids will learn about farm responsibilities, what animals eat and maybe a thing or two about milk and cookies too. The illustrations by Marcellus Hall express so much emotion and have a funky vintage feel that makes the whole book a pleasure to read.

 

Pegboard Rubbings

kids crafts This activity came about because my son was in trouble and had to clean his room before he was allowed to do anything else! While cleaning his usually Lego littered room we found these melty bead pegboards and I knew immediately what we were going to do with them. These pegboard rubbings are as simple as it gets but actually packed with learning and lessons that focus not only on concrete physical skills but also on patience and caution. For my toddler who loved the feel of the boards and sound of the crayon rubbing over them it was a great sensory activity.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some plain paper, melty bead pegboards, crayons and painter’s tape.
  2. Start by occupying your toddler if they are with you , which if yours is like mine they are always with you or on you. I grabbed a basket and threw in some animals. I asked her to take them all out , then put them all back in. It took her just the right amount of time for me and her brother to do the next 3 steps.
  3. Peel the crayons. If you are doing this craft with a child who can’t peel them yet do this before you invite them to create. If they can do it, please make them do at least half. It’s wonderful fine motor development and patience.
  4. Next flip the boards over and add painters tape. This will keep them in place while rubbing. Nothing wrecks learning or creativity than something going haywire like a pegboard sliding out from under paper. This will prevent that.
  5. Add the boards to the table. Explore the texture of them.
  6. Place the paper over the boards and using the side of the crayon rub. My son started with the crayon angled and going way too fast.
  7. Soon he discovered that if he went slowly and made sure that the crayon was horizontal that it worked much better. For a little guy discovering that slow and steady is better than getting done fast and first is a big deal.
  8. Next add more colors if you want.
  9. For my toddler I pulled her onto my lap and we did it together. She was not coordinated enough to hold the paper and rub at the same time. By being on my lap it let me hold the paper tightly and help her with the crayon too.  She loved the sound . kids crafts

 Books About Shapes

Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute book that not only helps teach shapes it is also entertaining! The three crafty mice use the shapes to protect themselves from one hungry cat finally using them to make scary mice to frighten the cat away! Kids love to help find which shapes are used in the illustrations and older ones can even anticipate what the mice will make next!

Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland will delight you and your dinosaur fan. The book is geared towards toddlers and young preschoolers who are still mastering finding basic shapes.  A shape is displayed on one side of the page and then those silly dinosaurs are playing with it on the other. My son loves dinosaurs so even though he’s known these shapes for ages it’s an enjoyable book with fun text and adorable illustrations by Henrietta Stickland.

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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.