Winter Sensory Box

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I am a lover of sensory activities.  They are rich in learning, calming, centering, and super fun!  They will keep your young children busy and quiet for longer than you think.  It’s way worth the bit of mess they create.  This week I made a winter sensory box with cotton balls, small branches of pine (from the back of our Christmas tree and clippings from the arborvitae in our front yard) and some woodland creature finger puppets (I threw in Santa too).  Both of my kids (3 & 1) had a lot of fun with it.  I had fun making it too 🙂

Do you have any ideas for fun sensory activities?

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Playdough

This week’s sensory activity was play dough.  My son (3) helped me measure the ingredients.  And then he and his sister (1) played! I gave them long wooden cylinders from the block basket and a few leaf-shaped cookie cutters for fall.  They had a blast squishing and rolling and cutting.

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Here’s my favorite play dough recipe. (It comes from a collection of recipes I have compiled over years of teaching.  I don’t recall its origination.):

Mix all of the ingredients together in a pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the dough thickens enough to form a ball.  Dump onto the counter and knead (when it’s cool).  It should keep for a week in an airtight container.

1c. flour (I’ve used both bleached white and whole wheat and they both work well)

1c. water

1/4c. salt

2t. cream of tartar

1T. vegetable oil

food coloring.

If you don’t already make a point of giving your children a variety of sensory activities, I highly recommend it.  Not only are they wonderful learning experiences, they are often calming and incredibly engaging for children.  Best of all for us parents, they keep them busy and quiet for longer than you might think.

Bath Blocks

Bath Blocks

Today I want to share a toy that I made a while back for my son (3). We pulled it out last month for bath time (after my daughter pooped in the tub and the normal toys had to be removed for a trip through the dish washer). He was a little young for it when I first made them, but now he really is engaged by them. Building castles and towers while he plays in the tub. My daughter (1.5) just bites them of course.

To make these bath blocks, simply cut geometric shapes out of crafting foam sheets in different colors. You know the stuff on the kids aisle at the craft store. Be sure to get the stuff that’s just foam, no sticky backing. The moisture in the bath tub will make them stick to the walls.

Happy building and bathing!

August Theme: The Farm

August Theme: The Farm

I like to switch out a couple of my kids toys and books to fit a new theme for the week. It keeps things fresh and they love to wake up Monday morning to new books and toys!

Last week’s theme was The Farm. With our garden providing so much produce to harvest lately, it seemed a fitting theme. Here’s a list of the books I included (I keep theme books in a basket in the living room. This keeps them special):

Around the Farm by Eric Carle
This is a book of animals and sounds. It has push buttons with the sounds of each animal.
The Farmyard Jamboree by Margaret Read MacDonald
This is a fun song book. It can be purchased with a CD. I just LOVE this book as do my children. Check out the song here.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
A cute rhyming story of a truck and its animal friends learning the value of working together.
Mommies Say Shhh! by Patricia Polacco
A soothing story that teaches animal sounds.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
A rhyming story of animals on a farm.

Because we are entering Autumn, I included a couple of books about the changing seasons which I will leave out until we have officially entered Fall. These titles are:

Joy by Joyce Carol Thomas
This is a lovely poem about the joy of experiencing the seasons with your child. It appears this book is out of print. If you can ever find it, I highly recommend buying it. It has been one of my son’s favorites since he began to show favorites with books 🙂

One Tree by Leslie Bockol
This book follows the life of a tree and the animals around the tree through one year.

Do you have a favorite August theme, or favorite Autumn book? I’d love to hear about it!

Mister Golden Sun

Mister Golden Sun

We did this project last week after singing the song, Mr. Golden Sun. My son has been really taken with the song lately, and asked if we could make a “golden sun.” I said, “of course” and got out the finger paints and cut circles out of construction paper. My son told me the colors we needed for a golden sun (orange, yellow, and “a little” red). I let both him and my 1.5-year-old daughter paint. When the suns were dry, my son cut the sun’s rays out of orange paper. He has just begun cutting with safety scissors and it’s his favorite activity at the moment (this was his second time). Then we glued all of the pieces onto a blue piece of construction paper. When we were done my son reminded me that it was Mr. Sun and he needed eyes…so he drew on eyes and a nose and mouth with black crayon.

I hope this inspires some creativity in your day! I’d love to hear about your projects with your little ones.

Happy creating!!

Racing Game

Racing Game

My son and I made this car racing game last week. He had the idea of what he wanted to make, and I helped cut the paper 🙂 We used his little Cars figures for the tokens and a large die that I bought at the Dollar Tree for other homemade games.

Board games are such a simple thing to make and I find that kids really enjoy making them and playing them! You can make any themed game by creating a path with spaces to count and move and a die or hand-made cards. You could even put colors, letters, or shapes on the spaces and make colored cards if you want your child to practice colors, letters, shapes, etc.

Happy creating!

Counting Flowers

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A new activity for your little ones and you 🙂

My son and I really enjoyed a quiet 15 minutes together playing this game. It’s fun and helps practice counting with one-to-one correspondence and number recognition. It makes a pretty center piece too when you’re not playing 🙂

You will need flowers (as many as you want your child to practice counting). I used 10. (I made my flowers with construction paper and popsicle sticks and the template at http://spoonful.com/printables/pretty-paper-flower-mom You could also use silk flowers)

A flower-pot filled with sand or dirt or rice. I used sand from our sand box.

Cards with numbers printed on them. I made ours with construction paper. I also drew dots on each one so that my son can count the dots to read the number on the card. (You could use dice, but you won’t get the number recognition).

To Play:

Place all of the flowers on the table near the pot. Place all of the number cards face down on the table. Draw a card and count the corresponding number of flowers to “plant” in the flower-pot.

You can extend this activity to practice simple addition and subtraction.

Happy counting!

~Sh