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.

 

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.

Winter Train Table Sensory Play

Just because you haven’t gotten any snow doesn’t mean your kids can’t play with it! We are lucky enough to have a train table that my dad made ( he’s been hacking Ikea since before it was hip) and this week we took some time to play with pretend snow . This is a wonderful multi- age sensory activity and worked great for my 5 year old son and 18 month old daughter, they each explored and played learning different things but having the same amount of fun.

 

  1. Gather your materials. We used our train table , extra trains and some cotton balls. If you don’t have a train table grab a bath mat, large shallow bin or just a coffee table and set up some trains or trucks then add in the “snow”.
  2. Start by being a little goofy and pretending to be clouds that are snowing . Give the kids the cotton balls and let them decide where the snow goes. I talked to my son about weather, asked him to look outside and tell me if he thought it would snow today in our yard. For my daughter we focused on the color white and the word “soft” feeling the soft cotton balls in our hands and on our faces.
  3. Play.  This is where some kids and many parents ( and even teachers) clam up. Now what? Here are some things we did that were fun.
  4. My son pretended to be delivering snow from one end of the train table to the other and we counted the snow as we loaded up the train, and then the pile when we dropped it off. 
  5. My daughter had a ball putting the snow into the little train house , through the windows. Hello, fine motor and hand eye coordination practice!
  6. We made a blizzard.
  7. We pretended to be the wind and blowed the snow.
  8. And more play.  What I loved so much about this was that it made the train table feel new again and we played with it and the snow on and off for days.

Books About Trains

Freight Train by Donald Crewes. Donald Crews’ Freight Train is a classic book.  It is rather simplistic in nature, but it is good for the younger train fans as it talks about the different kinds of freight cars and teaches about colors. My son loved this book at 2 and will still grab it at the library and read it when we are there three years later.

Tracks by David Galef and Tedd Arnold is a hilarious book about a man named Arnold who is in charge of directing the crew who lays down the train tracks.  Arnold’s glasses break, and his vision becomes a bit skewed.  What will the mayor think of this wacky track?  You’ve got to read it and find out!

Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton is another great book. My parents bought my son this whole set and at first I was sceptical of it just because it is a set and I guess I judged a book my it’s cover because I love all the books in the set. They are informative, fun, have great rhyming text and my son will sit for them and often requests them at bedtime too!

DIY Light Table

how to make a light table

While my son is at school I tend to use that time for errands and it’s really not fair to my toddler so today when I saw the extra string of Christmas lights I decided we’d have some fun exploring colors. This DIY light table should not be used for long periods of time, only with a parent right there at the box and please don’t let your kids touch the light strands as they have lead, and remember to wash your hands after touching them too. We only played for about 10 minutes and that was enough time for the lights to get warm so I wouldn’t play longer than that .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clear plastic container with lid, some wax paper, a strand of white christmas lights, scissors and tape. For the colors we used take and toss cup lids. No need to buy expensive color forms if you have something you can use at home already.
  2. Start by putting the lights on the lid, I taped them down in 2 places just so they were staionary in the box.
  3. Cut some wax paper and line the bottom so the light diffuses well.
  4. Close the lid with the cord sticking out – mine closed no problem but you could cut a notch out if you can’t close the lid with the cord out. comfortably ( you don’t want to run the risk of the cord being cut, my lid was very loose and didn’t press into the cord).
  5. Plug in and play.
  6. She LOVED it.
  7. Explore.
  8. We piled them on , identified them – I had no idea she knew so many colors, we had a blast.

Please only try activities that you feel are safe for your family, I share what we have made and done with the request that you will only make and do what your child is ready for and you can do safely.

Book About Colors For Babies

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller is one of my daughter’s favorite books. When we went to the library she started pulling the parenting books off the shelf because there are pictures of babies on the covers. The librarian was quick to notice and started finding us books with babies and this was one of the winners. We have now renewed this book twice and read it many many times a day. The book is super simple and each page shows a baby with a colored item like glasses, a hair bow etc… the photos are big and of real babies which if your toddler is like mine, makes a big difference.

How To Make A Simple and Frugal Sensory Tub

Sensory experiences for kids don’t have to be a show stopping three ring circus. I like making elaborate sensory tubs especially for my son since he is getting older and needs ones with specific tasks ( like finding letters, words or sorting objects in them) but a true basic sensory bin is an amazing educational tool. My toddler is just getting to the perfect age for this at 16 months. Exploring the small hard filler, using a spoon and scoop to transfer the grains from one spot to the next and practicing things like sharing with me as we play. Please don’t feel like you need to have all the bells and whistles because for toddlers it’s best to keep it simple and let them discover.

  1. Gather your materials. For this tub I bought some popcorn, barley and dried beans. Total cost for the grains was $2.34. The pumpkins were bought at a patch for $1 for 2 and the spoons and scoop are from my kitchen.  The tub was under $2 and I reuse it by putting the filler from previous tubs into ziplocks and storing to re-use. We had a canning funnel to play with but all she wasnted to do was this which was cute but we moved it to the side so we could get down to digging.
  2. A tip when doing a sensory bin with small grains and a small child. Do it on carpet, if a spill does happen it won’t scatter. You can easily vacuum it up.
  3. Also I am asked all the time how I deal with my daughter putting the beans and grains in her mouth. She doesn’t generally but that is why I use such small grains , they will taste gross if she tried to chew them but they are so small they pose a very small risk of being a chocking hazard. Still stay within arms reach at all times. I used our coffee table ( which is technically a bench)  and sat on the opposite side the while time the tub was within her reach. If your child is not ready for these try this one we made last year
  4. Practice scooping , pouring, talk about the colors of the spoons. Today I think we may have learnt which spoon is yellow and which is orange … I think. I do know we practiced sharing the spoons back and forth accross the table.
  5. I found this interesting, she is cleaning up some of the grains that spilled out. Not something her brother was interested in at her age.

We played with this simple sensory tub for much of the time we had between lunch and picking her brother up from school.  Simple, fun and educational.