Recently we embarked on a new project in how we document our work. Often we use words to describe something that we’re working with. For example, “this slime is so sticky!” Usually I write their words down and sometimes I post them somewhere the children can see. Just the other day we were in the midst of this type of an activity, I was writing down their words describing our very slippery purple slime as usual. The next step is where we took it to a new level. Instead of tapping the words to the wall, or shelf that holds the slime, I set up the word list and my computer at the big kids table. The older kids then worked to type their descriptive words into a program called wordle. They carefully deciphered my handwriting and found the corresponding key on the keyboard. They were identifying letters, capital and lowercase. They were also learning about important functions of a keyboard. When all the words were typed in we pressed the submit button and they created their own word cloud. They were so excited! They now would like to create word clouds for everything!!
We have been busy busy since my last post and I am finding that I am piling up pictures of some great things that we have been doing but never getting around to posting about them! Time slips away from me and then I forget all about the pictures that sit in my iPhoto waiting to be shared. So I think I will try to do a purge and post about some of my favorite things that have been happening in my little home over the last month all at once! 🙂
Due to the mass amount of boys who frequent my home we tend to base a majority of our projects around hot wheels cars. Even activities that initially had no intention of involving cars end up with a car or two slipping their way into the mix. Our sensory table often has something and cars, i.e. rice and cars, water beads and cars, flour and cars. I have a minimum of three cars in our stroller, probably more in my diaper bag.They are everywhere!
Last week we started a painting project at the table, working on painting rocks. This lasted for about 3.5minutes before someone pulled a red car out of there pocket and asked if they could paint it… I let them and of course I needed to find about 15 more cars so everyone could paint one, or two or three. Once all of the cars were covered in a good layer of “preschool grey” (this is the resulting color once all colors available are mixed) we needed to wash them. I pulled out pans and soap and sponges. The cars got clean quick, so we painted them again! We painted and washed and painted and washed to our hearts content.
Once the cars wash scene had fizzled out I pulled out straws for the older kids to make bubble mountains! I was introduced to this activity years ago from a former employer of mine and love to do this with big kids (I say big kids because often little kids want to suck with the straw and end up with a belly full of bubbles, my boys are 3 and they did just fine). We used our soapy water from the car wash stuck straws into the mix and blew and blew and blew! Then the excitement built and the giggles were nearly as plentiful as the bubbles! The boys would smash them down and then blow them up taller and taller. Literally 45minutes of fun!!!
We have made slime, or gak lots of times before. A few months ago, when we were in a serious slime phase, I found Growing a Jeweled Rose’s post on Slime Baskets. I got super excited and ran out and bought some baskets at the dollar tree that would be perfect for letting slime sift through. Once I got my baskets and all of my other dollar tree goodies home I kind of forgot why I bought them and just ended up filling them with craft supplies. So there they sat pinecones in one and pom-poms in the other, and there they should have stayed! But no, this morning when E asked to make slime I remembered those great oozing pictures, the kids smiling and laughing as the slime dripped down on top of them and I quickly emptied our craft buckets and strung them over the sensory table. Now a smart person may have moved this project outside, or maybe I should’ve had the kids take their shirts off or something! But me, I just foolishly let them at it! I’m not usually one to worry about mess at all but this was even a bit much for me. We used Growing A Jeweled Rose’s recipe that was a little runnier for optimal ooziness.
How to make Slime Basket Slime:
- 1 teaspoon of borax
- 1 1/3 cups very warm water
(Combine in a small bowl )
In a separate bowl Combine
- 2 Cups of White School Glue
- 1 1/2 cups very warm water
- A few drops of food coloring if color is desired
Mix the contents of both bowls well. Once mixed combine both bowls together and mix for several minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
The slime was definitely oozy and drippy, I may try our original slime recipe next time we do this just to cut down a bit on the stickiness. It didn’t seem to bother the kids much! They played for nearly an hour with these oozy slime buckets. We added scissors for cutting that drippy slime and I gave in to the mess and decided to worry about cleaning it when the kids were napping. I even let the baby sit in the sensory table to get in on the action, this was a bit unsuccessful since she wanted to eat it (naturally) and she got super mad when I stopped her. Im excited to try again when the weather gets warm so we can get clean in the sprinklers! Until then I can live with a little slime in the hair, and carpet and on the blankies and stuffed animals… 😉 .
Nothing makes it feel more like spring than bubbles floating through the park with little ones chasing behind to pop those soapy little orbs! In fact bubbles are truly one of the greatest joy makers that I know of. Even the crankiest of kids can be transformed into a little ball of giggles when bubbles are about. Heck, even our dog goes nuts over bubbles!
One of my all time favorite sensory tables is simply a whole tub of bubbles! I have done this in every program that I have ever been apart of and it is a no-fail minimum hour of fun! The very best part is when you add in different things to try to make bubbles with. Things like canning lids, cookie cutters, and pipe cleaners – the best! Sometimes we even put two pipe cleaners together and get some super big bubbles!
We had water in our sensory table all week and the kids interest was really starting to fizzle. I wasn’t quite ready to run to the store for new materials for the table. So I looked through the cupboards to see what I had on hand…nothing. Then E brought me a thing of bubbles that came out of his Easter basket to open for him and it hit me! I think I was more excited than the kids, I seriously always have a blast with this table!
Since I had just put fresh water in the table we grabbed the dish soap and started squeezing until we got a good bubble mixture. You could easily use store bought bubbles or a bubble recipe, whatever works for you. I showed the kids one big pipe cleaner bubble and they were hooked! The kids all got pretty good at making their own big bubbles and of course popping them! They even figured out that you could catch the bubbles in your hands if your hands were soapy enough! My camera is on the fritz so my pictures are mediocre phone quality and don’t really show just how much fun this is, but trust me we had a ball! 🙂
This past week we got a real preview of summer here in our normally chilly little part of the world. The thermometer topped out at 70 degrees and after a long winter that was enough for us to break out the sunscreen and the sprinkler! We played all day in the sunshine. With only a couple little guys left to be picked up we needed something fun to do. The boys were shirtless still from all of the water fun and we had a tray of paint out from a project earlier in the day. What could be better than to turn those little bare-bellies into works of art! I let them have at it. I don’t know if my son has ever had so much fun painting as he did this day! They painted stripes on their arms and they were tigers, they painted their ears and their toes! We had a blast and it made for a pretty colorful bath when we were finished.
This little guy was not so sure at first. But they both tried a little taste. And ended up warming up to those slippery suds. We added spoons, and had fun splashing and scooping with them. Yay for new sensory experiences!
A new play experience has swept the internet. Early childhood blogs and Pinterest boards are littered with ideas for “small worlds”. Adorable sensory tubs and bins with miniature landscapes, little versions of the world around us, the modern doll house with a little sensory mixed in. I have never ventured into the realm of small world play for a couple of reasons.
First of all small world play goes against my core belief that sensory play should be big, messy, and full body as often as it can be. Using our whole bodies to experience a new material is therapeutic and truly a wonderful way to explore outside of our typical bounds. In all of my early childhood experience and training sensory tables have been reserved for pouring, scooping, dumping, and digging. Dramatic Play happens there, as it often does in every element of a classroom, but that is not the main purpose of a sensory table. From what I can see of small worlds, dramatic play is the primary goal and the pretend play is expanded upon with sensory materials.
The second reason that I have always steered clear of small world set-ups is because I personally don’t love engaging in pretend play. Not because I think it’s bad at all. I love watching a group of kids act out a story or a scenario that came from their own mind. But I have spent the past year and a half working with primarily under threes. Pretend play is a lot of work for the adult with this age group. I tend to guide the play and have to work hard to keep the story going and the kids engaged. It feels like it has been a long time since I have had the joy of playing a role in dramatic play that is determined by the kids.
The last reason that small worlds are intimidating to me is because I am absolutely a fly by the seat of my pants type of planner. I plan my week out, I usually even write it all down but my best received activities are ones that I come up with from looking at what I have and thinking about how it will work together. Small worlds take planning.
All of this being said. I decided to try one out. I needed to get over my own silly issues with this type of play in order to give my kiddos a chance to try something new and potentially really fun! While browsing through blogs this weekend I came across Building Blocks and Acorns post on their 3-in-1 Spring Sensory Tub. Very cute, and still very sensory oriented, I think that I need to work myself slowly into this small world thing. Luckily I found this before I had done my shopping for the week. I made a semi-plan and headed to the dollar tree.
Our bin is a little different. We have a really big bin so it took a lot of stuff to fill it. We used green rice, two different types of easter grass, cotton balls for bunny tails, and coffee grounds for some mud, because lets be honest it’s not springtime without mud. We added two birds nests made out of spanish moss, filled with sparkly little pink eggs. Little plastic easter eggs were perfect for filling with rice and other materials in the bin. The mud was contained with a few river rocks and small pots with a few fake flowers gave us the opportunity to do some planting of our own. I added a few bright pom poms and some whirly pipe cleaners for color. A couple of butterflies also graced our springtime garden. With the addition of spoons and tweezers we were ready.
E and I had a ton of fun setting this up Sunday night and he was very excited for his friends to come Monday morning so they could play! I prepped the kids before we dug in and let them know that we would have more fun if we kept the rice by the rice and the dirt in the garden and so on. I was still skeptical that this would last long, half expecting a big mess by 12:00. I was wrong 🙂
There was scooping and pouring with the rice and mud, counting and hiding of the eggs. The butterflies made homes in the nests and took care of the birds eggs while the momma birds were out gathering food. Etta even joined in on the fun, apparently fake flowers are delicious! We had a blast and played for most of the morning. Much to my surprise the scene looks relatively the same. I stepped away a few times and things continued to go smoothly! While this setup was different than what I would normally do for sensory play I am happy that I branched out. I will not abandon my love for big messy sensory experiences but I think that I may need to make room for a new type of play and embrace the small world craze. 🙂
We have never played with shaving cream! Gasp! I know it’s crazy, almost an early childhood sensory abomination! But I always forget to get it when I’m at the store and my past experiences with shaving cream is that kids play for about two minutes and leave you with a huge mess to clean up. By chance I remembered to grab some the other day on my shopping trip and I’m happy that I did. We have had some seriously messy fun for the past two days.
We started off with the basic, rub your hands all around in the stuff, and as I expected, the kids decided minutes later that they were “done!” But I was prepared and quickly added tinker toys to the mix. I had some very intrigued little ones on my hands. The tinker toys in the shaving cream were a perfect mix! They could build and stack beyond their normal parameters thanks to the shaving cream holding it all together. I didn’t get pictures because I was elbow deep in a super cool castle/helicopter, depending on who you asked. Today we covered the entire table with shaving cream and and then I sprinkled colors sporadically on the top of the white peaks. Watching it mix and swirl was awesome! We had so much of the fluffy white stuff on the table that their attention held for quite a while. The big kids had such a good time that I knew I had to find a way for the babies to get in on all of that fun!
Now time for the baby safe “shaving cream”. I don’t have a real issue with babies playing with just plain old shaving cream other than the harshness of it on their skin, and It would be pretty sad if it got in their eyes. Soooo I have found a similar alternative. I put about a 1/2 Tbl of baby Shampoo, the lavender kind because I like the smell, in my Ninja with a splash of water, probably less that 1/4 of a cup and then blended until all I had was thick suds, maybe 1 min. I popped the soapy “shaving cream” onto the tray of the high chair and let Miss Etta go to town. She was in heaven, smearing it all over the place, I added beaded necklaces, the Mardi Gras kind, and a couple of shape blocks. This was very entertaining to her! She would get so excited when she cleared a spot of all the soap that she would squeal with joy! I left it white this time but I plan on adding color for our next soapy adventure. I had originally worried about a lot of it going in her mouth. I was pleasantly surprised, she only tasted it once and decided the soap tasted nothing like her yummy avocados!
I am excited and a bit sentimental at the fact that my little babies are now big enough for sensory play! Closing in on the 6 month mark these littles are sitting up, noticing the world around them and excited for new and different things! My little Etta is pushing up on her hands and toes and is starting to move around on the floor! It goes by so fast and the newborn stage is such a wonderfully cuddly stage but I have to be honest I love this upcoming stage where they are so excited by the world around them and eager to explore!
A few days ago during our very rainbow filled week one of my little guys was awake while all of the other kids were sleeping so I prepped a fun sensory experience for him. I had a pack of spaghetti noodles hanging in the cupboard ready to be played with! I boiled the noodles and rinsed them in cold water when they were done then split them into separate bowls and added just a splash of color. I was surprised at how colorful they looked. I was worried about the color seeping onto the little guys clothes so we just opted for the diaper look. The colors didn’t really get on his skin too much but they did bleed onto each other quite a bit so they weren’t as pretty when all was said and done. I lined the noodles up in ROYGBIV fashion for my own satisfaction. I set it up on the base of our excersaucer to give them a defined space and hope to contain some of the mess.
My buddy was not so sure at first, touching and dropping the noodles on his toes. He made some silly faces and a few whimpers when the noodles were just too much for him. After a while he warmed up to the idea of the noodles touching him. Etta woke up soon after we started so she got to join in on the fun. She LOVED it! She was basically swimming in the noodles. Putting them up by her face and all over, she would smile when I would move a noodle to a new spot and tell her it’s location. i.e. “now the noodle is on your belly, oh now it moved to your ear…”
These two played for quite a while and got to experience some very different textures, bright colors, and of course always vocabulary!
I try not to get too theme oriented when planning activities for my little ones, and especially try to steer clear of really holiday driven activities. Instead of planning projects around the cutesy stuff that I find online I try very hard to base what we do on a daily basis around the children’s interests. That being said this week has been devoted to rainbows. I know, it’s all that you see on Pinterest right now with St. Patrick’s Day being this month and whatnot but I promise this is following their interests, a little bit. After our rainbow credit card painting we have been very fascinated with the colors of the rainbow, and which order they appear in the rainbow. Plus I’m kind of in love with my liquid watercolors that I recently bought and the colors just look sooooo enticing when all lined up ROYGBIV style.
We have started our transition to eating clean and that means that I am not using sugar in anything that I make anymore, we’ve substituted honey. We had a full bag of sugar in the cupboard. Of course we should use it for some sensory play! I mixed the sugar in a plastic baggy, about 1.5 cups with a few squirts of liquid watercolors. The colors were vibrant! We lined them in rainbow fashion. I also didn’t tell the kids we were using sugar. They came to the conclusion that it was sand on their own. This worked well because my little sugar monkey would have been pouring the rainbow down his throat if he knew. The “sand” was sticky. It was moldable and looked great even when the colors mixed. The toddlers played in it for a long time. They found out that it was sugar just by pure toddler deduction. When those sticky little fingers went into their mouths, that sand was pretty sweet. They kept my secret though, and only took a few tastes 🙂 .