Monday, September 5, 2016

Sensory Grab Bag

The idea for this activity came from a neat little book of activities one of our neighbors gave us. I loaned it to a friend and I can't remember what the title of the book was, but once I get it back I'll update this so the rest of you can find this awesome little book too.
Set up for this activity is really easy. You fill a small bag (think leftover gift bag, brown paper lunch bag, pillow case, anything you have handy) with miscellaneous items from around the house. Aim for a variety of shapes and textures, and try to include things from multiple rooms of the house.

Have your child reach into the bag without looking and choose an item. They have to feel the item and try to guess what it is before pulling it out to see if they're right. My kids loved this, and it was a great way to keep them busy while nursing a baby. You can change out the items as many times as you want and keep this game interesting for days and days!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Balloon painting

 I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it looked fun! I'm always on the lookout to turn an ordinary activity (like painting) into something more interesting. 
 Holding onto the balloon with slippery paint covered fingers took some skill and concentration. It was fun to watch the kids try to figure out how to make things work out how they wanted. (We also had the occasional dropped balloon, so using some kind of easily washable paint is a good idea.)
 The kids experimented with different ways to incorporate the balloons into the painting fun. We used them as stamps...
...and also as a canvas. 
 
 The kids ended up switching to finger painting when the balloons just got too slippery. I was glad I'd covered the table under each kid with some wrapping paper from the dollar store!
 The kids still wanted to paint, but were tired of finger painting, so we tried making some prints by pressing blank paper into the little plastic trays their paints were in. They were fascinated by that idea!
I love activities like this that keep the kiddos happy for a good long time!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rice Krispie Sensory Bin

 I don't remember where I first saw the idea of using Rice Krispies as filler for a sensory bin, but it's a great idea! I spread a sheet out on the living room floor to catch the mess, and gave the kids each a plastic tub of cereal and lots of fun toys for playing with. They loved it!
 With a sensory bin like this I love to give the kids toys/utensils that are great for scooping and pouring. It gives them a chance to explore spatial relations (will the amount in this scoop fit in this cup?) as well as hand-eye coordination.
 This citrus juicer is one of the kids' favorite toys. It's fun with play dough or sensory bins, or playing in the dirt. It's also a great way to strengthen those fingers!
 This one kept the kids busy for a long time, I didn't even have to feed them a snack that day! ;)
 This did get pretty messy, but most of the mess was on the sheet and what had gotten on the floor vacuumed up easily.
I love sensory bins! They can be so low-prep and are one of the more engaging things I've found for the kids to play with.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

TBT: Shaving Cream Free Play

Shaving cream is one of our favorite play materials. It's cheap, is versatile, and it's so much fun!
This spring Sharli had her first experience playing with shaving cream, and she had a blast. We started out with a big pile of plain shaving cream and I just left it there for her to explore with no further direction from me. 
 She wasn't too sure about this new weird goop at first...
 I added some drops of food coloring and that's all it took for her squeamishness to disappear. This girl lives for all things pretty!
 It didn't take very long before she was all in, and I mean ALL in. Too bad I didn't think to strip her to her diaper before starting this. Good thing it's pretty easy to clean up!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Super Suds Water Play

We spend a lot of time outside playing in the water, so I'm always looking for something new to keep it interesting. This activity was a great way to mix things up.

All I had to do to prep was put some water and a large squirt of dish soap in my blender and turn it on to make as many suds as I could get. I poured the water and bubbles into a couple of containers and carried them outside for the kids, along with some of our toy kitchen utensils.

This kept the kids busy for a long time, and whenever the bubbles started to run out I just had to flip the blender back on for a few seconds and whip up a few more. Pretty soon one of the kids ran inside and came back with the basket of animal toys, and they spent a long time washing all the animals.


Maren though was not real impressed with it all. She spent the entire time napping in the sun while they played.
By the way, this all happened in January. Thus the mostly dead grass and the swaddled baby. But, we do live in NM, so it's not too cold to enjoy water play outside even this time of year. 
Because this is Erik we're talking about, it was just a matter of time before he was all the way in the water, with Sharli following right behind.

 Good thing it's just soap and water, right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

I was so excited for this week's Summer Reading Program! There are lots of fun ideas out there to go with this classic kid's book, it was fun to sift through them all and find ones that would work for our little group. 
I found this amazing play dough recipe that I knew I had to try. It worked out pretty well. It's more dense and stiff than my usual recipe, but it looked JUST like cookie dough, and smelled great! We had to watch the younger kids pretty close to make sure they didn't eat it (although without the "chocolate chips" it would be taste safe).
For our gross motor game I found this cute Little Mouse game that sounded fun. I originally envisioned playing outside and placing the houses far enough apart that they would have to run from one to the other, but summer in New Mexico can get pretty darn hot. We scaled things down and brought the fun inside, which took away from the gross motor aspect but not from the fun. To make it a group game I chose one child to pick a house to hide the mouse in, than he/she got to pick which child guessed first. If the one guessing got it right they got to be the next "hider", if not they chose another child to take a guess. I tried to help guide the selection process so that everyone got a turn. 


 Our craft this week was also our sensory activity. We made puffy paint cookies. They were messy and gooey, but so much fun!
 And of course for our snack I made sure to bring real chocolate chip cookies to share with all the kids!

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post contains affiliate link.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Reading Fun: The 3 Little Pigs

This story is one of my kids' favorites right now. They love to pretend to huff and puff like the wolf, or tell me "not by my chiny hair!", which is as close as Sharli can manage to the pigs' reply right now. In addition to the more traditional versions of this book, there are some really fun spin-offs out there too. Some of my favorite spin-offs have ninjas, or big bad pigs, or a poor wolf who was framed. My all time favorite version of this story is by David Weisner. With an out-of-the-box approach to the story and beautiful illustrations it's one I want to own someday!
We didn't do anything special with the play dough this week, although these cute play dough mats would have been fun!

For our sensory play I made sticky story boards for each child with an outline of a house drawn on the back of the contact paper. Each child had their own sticky board taped to a piece of construction paper. I had cut out tons of little pieces of construction paper to make straw sticks and bricks, and the kids could choose what to make their house out of. Like this, except I chose contact paper over turning a dozen kids loose with glue.
I am SO SO SO sorry for the terrible pictures. I forgot my camera, so I used the one on my poor old (not smart) phone.
For our craft I copied some cute masks and let each child pick which character's face to decorate. We had crayons, markers, stickers, stencils, etc. It was funny how many kids wanted to be the big bad wolf.

These would have been better printed on cardstock, but I only had regular printer paper. To keep the holes for the string from tearing right through I folded a strip of scotch tape around the edge of the paper before punching the holes. 
 Our gross motor game was going outside and running around with the masks on. Depending on the age and interest level of your kiddos you could do a more organized game, something like this perhaps?

*Diedre Mower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links.