Best Of 2010

# 3

Sensory Tubs

The jury was split on which sensory tub was the best , but many of you have emailed me saying you’d never expect your 5 and 6 years olds to still enjoy what seems like an activity for much younger kids. Sensory tubs are amazing, themed or simple with a single filling, kids love them. They spark imaginative play, they encourage cooperative with groups as well as a truck load of pre math skills too.

Which sensory tub was your favorite?

Snow Science!

We were actually snowed in a few weeks back but considering my Twitter stream was packed with tweets about snow days I thought I’d  better post this now while so many of you have snow ( It can also be done with ice if you are short on snow). My son loved this and it’s the type of activity that adjusts seamlessly to different ages and abilities.The goal is to answer the question : Where does snow melt the fastest in your house? And why?

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some small bowls or containers, a stop watch or clock,a measuring cup,  large piece of paper, and marker.
  2. Start by making a chart with 4 columns : Container #, Place, Prediction, Result. If your child can help write encourage them to.
  3. Number your containers, decide where you will place them and make your time predictions. I had my son go to each room and think about how long it would take the based on how warm each was.
  4. Go outside and gather some snow! Don’t forget to put about the same amount in each container .
  5. Put them in different spots around your house.
  6. Start the timer.
  7. Enter your results.
  8. Discuss the results. It was cold in our garage it wasn’t until bedtime that the snow was all water!  Since doing this a few weeks ago my son has made many mentions about our cold garage.

Have a little one not ready for this yet? Try ice cube painting .

Spooky Halloween Sensory Tub

This sensory tub was such a huge hit that I had to sneak it away after he went to bed.  He loved using the tongs to pick up all the skeletons and then dump them down. As an adult watching it was rather morbid but he was having a blast. If you use larger containers or smaller skeletons you can label the containers with the colors of the skeletons and add a sorting game to it too. I prefer to let him use his imagination with the sensory tubs , although some students I have had needed more direction so if your child is just kinda like ” Um now what? ” play with them and make up games to get them started.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a plastic tub or extra large pan, some black beans, some great northern beans, pumpkin containers, tongs and skeleton toys ( ours are the stretchy ones ).
  2. Pour your black beans in , my tub used 2 small packages.
  3. Pour in the great northern beans, I only put in about half the package.
  4. Pop in the skeletons and pumpkins.
  5. Invite your child to the table ( or if you are smart out to the porch or backyard) and play.
  6. My son adored making big morbid piles of skeletons, not sure if I should be concerned or not…

Last Year’s Halloween Sensory Tub

Last year we used orange lentils,pasta,  and black beans. Check it out.

Wrecking Ball Science!

by Kim

I don’t think it is a secret how much I love science. I love teaching my kids about science, without telling them it’s science. Preschoolers are so much fun to watch when they experiment and learn. We did this fun activity on a recent rainy day that taught my kids about spacial relations and physics, but it was disguised as a wrecking ball.

Here is what you will need: some yarn, an empty key ring, a ball, masking tape, and some blocks.

First, tape the key ring to a door frame using the masking tape. You want to only use masking tape because any other tape may damage paint or stained wood.

Next wrap the ball with the yarn. Any ball will do.

Have your child build a structure with the blocks. You do not have to use blocks. Empty yogurt or butter containers work great, so do food storage containers.

Thread the yarn through the key ring.

Have your child hold the end of the yarn in one hand and the ball in the other. Show them how they can adjust the height by pulling or letting go of the yarn. For the younger two kids I held the non-ball end for them.

Now your child can let loose and do some demolition!

We had a neat time talking about how we needed to pull it to make it higher and standing further back to make the ball hit the building harder. It was so exciting to hear my son point these things out. I would ask how we could hit the blocks at the very bottom and he would tell me how he thought it could be done. So I told him to test it out.

It was a good time for everyone. Nothing says fun like demolition. :-)

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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.

Gumball Run!

by Kim

I saw this idea originally here on mumma made it and have been wanting to do it ever since. We have had thunderstorms for a few days so what a perfect opportunity to try it out.

All you will need are pool noodles, gumballs, and a serrated knife.

I cut the pool noodles into different lengths and then cut them in half. You can use scissors for this, but a serrated knife made it so easy (be careful, though).

I set up a system of the “slides” on the furniture. My kids were tickled pink.

I had them guess whether the gumball was going to make it to the bottom or not. This time it didn’t make it.

We played around with a few different ways of putting the slides and connecting them. I challenged Cole to make a system using at least 3 different colors. Here is what he very meticulously made.

He was hoping the gumball would shoot up at the end and into his mouth. You and I know that it didn’t do that, but didn’t understand why. So I had the opportunity to explain (in preschooler terms) about speed, force, and gravity.

We also set up slides next to each other to race. We wondered if certain colors would go faster than others. We had to test it out and talked about why they went equally fast.

We tested out whether the incline would make a difference on how fast it went. My son was really into trying all sorts of angles. I think we did this experiment at least 20 times on different pieces of furniture.

While my daughter didn’t really get into the hypothesis and explaining part, she loved participating in the testing. She would squeal as the gumballs went shooting down the slides.

This can easily be modified using a marble, but I know my toddler and I know she would put it in her mouth. So I opted for gumballs. If I know it is going in her mouth I might as well use something that is meant to be there.

While gumballs are a suitable choice for preschoolers with supervision, they are choking hazards for under 3 years of age. My house has gumballs often (thanks for the gumball machine Grandma) and my children are very familiar with them. I was very confident doing this activity with my daughter. You know your children and if you are not comfortable doing this with them, it is better not to.

This activity was a great opportunity to discuss all sorts of different science concepts with my preschooler. I took advantage of the different colors of pool noodles and gumballs and showed them to my toddler. Overall it was a great activity for both age levels. We had a lot of fun doing it.

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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.