Fruit Loop Sensory Bin


If sensory bins are great… edible sensory bins are even better! The original idea for this game called for Froot Loops, but for a healthier version, we used Cascadian Farm’s Fruitful O’s. They’re not quite as colorful as Froot Loops, but the colors are all natural and the cereal is vegan, meaning Travis could play and snack at the same time.


To punch up the rainbow nature of the bin, I added colorful plastic cups, red craft foam cut into various shapes, a bright yellow beach shovel, and a few toy cars that fit the mood of the bin.


Travis didn’t need any prompting to get started. He used the cups to pour the cereal back and forth…


…and to load up the dump truck.


It only took about three minutes before he took his first bite, and his eyes popped with delight. From there it was play a little, nibble a little, play a little, nibble a little, which I was just fine with since it was sort of the point!


I threaded some of the cereal onto a pipe cleaner, thinking it might be fun to eat a “kebab” snack as he played, but to my delight, he preferred to thread loops onto his own pipe cleaner. Great for fine motor skills!


He then requested a bucket, so I pulled out an old beach pail and he was busy shoveling the cereal into that for a while.


Overall, an effortless game to put together with joyful rewards.



Toddler Stained Glass Window


This art project is gorgeous in a window hit by direct sunlight, and your toddler will be unable to resist the sticky surface!

While Travis was asleep, I cut scraps of multi-colored tissue paper and crepe paper, and arranged them in a bin. I then drew little floral motifs and various shapes on a large piece of contact paper with permanent markers.

Tape the contact paper, sticky side out, to a window and leave it for your toddler to find. In the morning, it only took Travis about 5 minutes. “Mom, you drew clouds!” (Well, I was going for flowers, but good enough!)


Now that he had spotted it, I brought over the tissue paper scraps and showed him how they adhered to the paper.


He tested out a few pieces, and then became very interested in the tissue paper itself for a while.


His favorite way to attach the pieces was by crumpling them into balls first, an idea I hadn’t even considered!


It was a project that we didn’t do all at once, bur rather one that he returned to over the course of the day. He also discovered how sticky the contact paper felt if he pressed it with his fingers!


The project was best when we had gorgeous sunlight spilling in at midday. “Look at our stained [glass]!” he exclaimed, and added a few more pieces.


Because I wanted him to have a real-world reference for the art we had created, we also popped into a local cathedral to marvel at the stained glass there.


Be sure to leave your artwork up in the window for a few days to enjoy it!


Cloud Dough


Let’s be honest: the giggles and joy are so worth it when we break out a big tray of flour and let our toddlers go wild, but as a parent, you have to psych yourself up for it… Am I right? Flour is going to fly up in the air, flour dust is going to get everywhere, and you’re probably going to wind up mopping the floor.

Solution? Baby oil! Flour + baby oil results in a fantastic mixture that is as fluffy as a cloud, but sticks together in your hands when you squeeze it. This not only means you introduce novelty to your child’s flour play, but clean-up is much easier. I’m not saying you won’t get messy, just that clumps are easier to clean than flour dust!

So this game is totally worth the effort. In a bowl or tray, combine about 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup baby oil. Travis of course had to help, as soon as he saw me break out the measuring cups.


Knead the mixture until you have something that is fluffy and light, but sticks together when pressed, adding more oil if needed.

At first Travis just wanted to sprinkle the mixture all around, but I soon showed him we could shape it into “snowballs.” He was fascinated, and his favorite thing to do was use a car to smash the snowballs, which went on for some time.


Then, to experiment with the mixture’s other texture possibilities we made it “snow” down on the cars softly.


He also loved pressing the mixture until it was very firm in the bottom of the pan, at which point you can make hand prints…


or roll toy cars across for tire tracks.


From a purely sensory point of view, the mixture feels fantastic, almost therapeutic – so parents, dive right in there and get your hands messy!


Fishing for Letters


When I considered whether or not to play this game, I thought it might be too simple for Travis at this stage… but he adored it!

To set up, I put all of our magnetic alphabets in a bowl. You could also use foam puzzle letters. He instantly wanted to know what I was doing, and followed me around the apartment while I gathered the rest of the supplies – a towel to cover the floor, a second bowl, and a slotted spoon.


I added water to the bowl with the magnets, and this bowl and the empty bowl in front of Travis and asked him if he could transfer the letters with the slotted spoon. He didn’t hesitate a moment.


At first, he was simply so excited with the mechanics of the slotted spoon (i.e. that the water trickled out but the alphabet letters stayed on) that he couldn’t concentrate on the letters at all. The letters went back and forth several times this way.


Then he wanted to move the letters with his hands (have a dry shirt ready and waiting for when the game is done, because sleeves are likely to get wet!).


Eventually, the initial excitement wore off and he began transferring the letters more deliberately and slowly, telling me which one he was holding, which had been my ultimate goal for this project.

Perhaps because of our Letter of the Week play, I haven’t concentrated on the full alphabet in a long time, so this was a great refresher course to make sure Travis remembers all his letters, whether in order or out of order. I was ultimately so glad I selected this as a project for our morning.

Once he tired of transferring letters, Travis asked if he could have the buckets without water, so we drained what was left, and he proudly carried his bucket of letters into the living room and continued to play with them for some time, making alphabet soup and telling me he was setting up a bakery.


In sum, this was a great morning game that involved almost no forethought or special equipment, provided both tactile and educational learning, and couldn’t be easier to set up or clean up.


Shaving Cream Paint


Travis has enjoyed making a mess painting with shaving cream before, but this time we added in a drop of paint to each cup of shaving cream to produce lovely pastel colors.

Travis had to help squirt out the shaving cream of course – he loves watching it foam! – and then helped stir in the paint we added.


What a pretty blue we got!


Then it was time to make a big globby mess. He wasn’t interested for as long as I thought, probably because, as mentioned, we have already done a game very similar to this.


While he painted though, he told me he was drawing cupcakes. I added a nice round cupcake to our artwork bakery.


For a novel spin, we brought the leftover paint into the tub at bathtime – it makes fun foamy decorations on the side of the tub!


Cornmeal Play


Making finger sketches for F week inspired me to pull out the cornmeal later in the week for good old messy fun.

My original idea was to set up a dinosaur stomping ground, adding a layer of cornmeal and Travis’s collection of small plastic dinosaurs to a baking tray. I thought he’d enjoy making dinosaur footprints, and the fact that the cornmeal looked like Jurassic desert sand. Surprisingly, he was uninterested… until I added a small cone of paper to be a volcano.


This piqued his interest, but he soon discovered that it was much more fun to sprinkle the cornmeal outside the baking tray than to stomp the dinosaurs inside it – a reminder that toddlers will make of games whatever they choose! He loved “sweeping” the cornmeal, and was happy doing so for quite some time.


Finally the dinosaurs entered back into the game, with Travis burying them in a separate container under a layer of cornmeal.


He started using the “volcano” as a funnel/scoop to bury them, which I thought was quite inventive on his part!


The game turned out to be such a hit, even if not in the way I intended, that he asked to play again later in the afternoon.



F Week!


For an F week full of fun in your Letter of the Week curriculum, try out these ideas.


Firefighter/firetruck: Hands down the biggest hit of the week, start by pulling out any firetruck toys you have at home. Even better, I gave Travis a chance to play Firefighter with an imaginative put-out-the-flames chalk game, which merited a full blog post.


Flag: This word was the surprise hit of the week! We checked out a library book on state flags, and Travis couldn’t get enough of going through it and deciding which ones he liked best.


After that, we had to design our own family flag of course. Travis wanted me to do the drawing, but told me what symbols to include, and which colors to use. If you have craft items at home that begin with an F (feathers, felt), consider gluing those to your child’s flag creation.


Frisbee: For our exercise this week, we got out to the park and Travis enjoyed a basic intro to the Frisbee, giving a few nice tosses! You could also toss a soft football, if that interests your child more.


Finger: Use fingers only to make sketches in a shallow tray of cornmeal. You can encourage your child to draw letters or shapes, although Travis mostly just loved running his fingers deep through the tray.


Fan/feather: Fans are a favorite around here, because it’s always fun to see how objects blow in the wind (see my post from W week for more on this idea). This week, we let feathers go over the fan and watched them flutter.


Fort: What better excuse than the letter F to take out all your pillows and blankets and build a big fort?


Fish: As our field trip of the week, we visited the fish at a local aquarium. Travis couldn’t get enough of a catfish nearly as big as he was. Libraries and rec centers in your area may also have large tanks of fish for children to enjoy.


Foot: Here’s a word I thought would be fun, but which turned out to be a flop. I tried to get Travis interested in tracing his foot and mine, to show their relative sizes, and then thought he’d enjoy painting with his feet instead of a paintbrush on a large sheet of butcher paper… But he couldn’t be bothered! Instead, we read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, which always produces giggles.

Our weekly extras…

Fine art: As our art project, we folded paper fans. I showed Travis how to make them with very tight folds, and he loved flapping them to create a breeze. Although he wasn’t able to replicate the exact structure, he enjoyed folding sheets of paper in imitation.


Food: It was a week to dine on French fries and fruit salad… and then we had to make French toast!


Books: Our favorites of the week were: Little Rabbits’ First Farm Book by Alan Baker, Firefighter PiggyWiggy by Christyan and Diane Fox, Friends by Michael Foreman, and Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Songs: Although not a children’s song, a rousing rendition of Finiculi Fincula got huge laughter and clapping along. And of course there’s the children’s classic the Farmer in the Dell.

Math: Introduced fractions! A sandwich (or any food that can be sliced into portions) is the perfect opportunity to visualize fractions. Show your child the whole sandwich before cutting it in half, thirds, or quarters. Travis liked the demonstration so much that wanted his own piece of bread to practice on. As a perfect coincidence, he wound up “half” dressed in his pajamas that evening (bottoms on, top off) which he decided was hilarious.


Be on the lookout for an out-of-order V Week post in the coming weeks – I saved it on purpose so we could learn all about V with Valentine’s crafts.

Glitter Star Jars


On a whim, we put together this glowing glittery project today, after spotting some glow-in-the-dark stars at the grocery store checkout.

First, I showed Travis the shooting stars in the package, which he already thought were cool enough. When I asked him if he wanted to make a galaxy for the stars to float in, he couldn’t wait to get started.


Step one, filling a mason jar with corn syrup, was right up a 2 and 1/2 year old’s alley. Travis had to help with the gooey squeezing, and in fact ended up filling our jar a little too high (more on that later). Make sure you leave enough space at the top for your stars to fit.


Next we needed star dust aka glitter. We might have gotten a little too carried away with the glitter, but Travis insisted on dumping in a lot.


Next we shook up our galaxy, and watched as the glitter dispersed through the oozing corn syrup – Travis thought this part was too cool.


Finally it was time to add the stars.


Although your glittery jar will work best with the stars on the surface of the corn syrup, Travis’s favorite part of the whole activity was stirring the stars deep into the glittery goop, so we did that for quite a while (prepare to get a little sticky!).


Once the contents of the jar settled, the stars rose back up again, and at that point you’ll be able to “charge” your stars, whether by lamp or sunlight, so they glow at night. In the meantime, the jar is gorgeous just glittering by day in the sunshine! As mentioned, Travis made our jar very full of corn syrup, meaning less light could reach our stars, but the effect still worked beautifully.


This might make a neat project for a child who’s afraid of the dark, since the beautiful sparkles make a dark, bedtime room feel magical.

Cinnamon French Toast


A sneaky mix of chia and hemp seeds makes for a rich batter to coat this vegan French toast. Your kids will gobble it up!


  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sliced bread of choice
  • Cooking spray
  1. In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the bread, and process until smooth and thick.
  2. Dip each bread slice in the batter, turn over and let sit for a moment, then transfer to a hot skillet coated with cooking spray. Repeat with additional bread slices as desired (the batter makes enough for about 6 slices).
  3. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side over medium heat – make sure to wait long enough that the batter isn’t sticking to the pan.
  4. Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup.



Engage your child’s imagination and help him or her learn about what firefighters do with this adorable game.

To set up, paint “flames” in red, orange, or yellow chalk on a chalkboard easel. Note: If you’re playing the game in the summer, you can go bigger, and apply chalk to sidewalks or driveways!


I told Travis we had a fire to put out and needed to race to the scene like firemen, then provided him with a squirt bottle (hose), bucket, and sponge.


He couldn’t wait to help “put out the fire,” and I think it helped him understand what firetrucks and firefighters do for the first time; it’s a rather abstract concept just to see a firetruck racing quickly around town.


He asked me to add more chalk flames again and again, and then started drawing on flames himself toward the end.


In total, he played for nearly 45 minutes before growing bored – a big hit!