Shaving Cream Color Mixing Bag

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Here’s a spin on a recent color mixing activity Veronika enjoyed for Valentine’s Day. This time the bags were bigger and the whole thing was a lot squishier!

For set up, squirt paint into the corners of three gallon-sized zip-top bags. Each bag should contain a pair of primary colors: red + yellow, yellow + blue, and blue + red.

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I next squirted a healthy dose of shaving cream into each bag between the two colors.

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Seal the tops with duct tape for added security, or this could get messy!

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Now it was just up to Veronika. She immediately loved squishing the bags between her palms.

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It turns out they were also a blast to throw up in the air…

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…or behind her back. Ta da!

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Once she had thoroughly kneaded the bags, the colors started to mix together. It wasn’t as clear a “lesson” on primary and secondary colors as other sensory bags we’ve tried, but the visual effect was still lots of fun and quite pretty!

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Here is the final, squished and much enjoyed result.

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Textured Touch

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This advanced texture game will delight toddlers because it also contains an element of surprise!

Cut two holes in the top of a flat box (such as a tie or scarf box).

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Next, gather together a variety of fabrics and materials. We had burlap, felt, cotton, silk, wrapping paper, and sandpaper, for lots of nice contrast.

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One at a time, I placed a piece of material under the lid and showed her how to poke a finger through to explore.

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She looked so intrigued by the mystery of it!

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I put my finger in the second hole so I could describe the texture to her. Burlap, for example, was bumpy and rough. Then we lifted the lid to see what we’d been feeling!

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Wrapping paper was next, smooth and slippery. Soon, Veronika loved being the one to remove the lid and discover what was inside.

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The lid definitely adds a fun element to the game, since toddlers will adore putting it on and off between each new material.

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We played a second version of the game in a paper bag. Again, she loved the surprise of reaching in…

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…and lifting out a new fabric with delight each time.

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Talk about all the different textures as you play this version of the game, too. The more descriptive your words, the better!

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Chances are, your little one will be busy putting the fabric in and out of the bag for a while. Boxes plus bags plus fabric, oh my! This game was a winner.

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Food Exploration Station

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The compartments of an ice cube tray are just the right size for setting up a station that allows your toddler to touch, taste, poke at, and other wise explore food! This game is great for soon after a meal so that the emphasis is on all the senses, not just on eating.

I wanted to fill the tray with a variety, but not an overwhelming amount of different objects for Veronika. I included warm cooked carrots, chilled slices of watermelon just out of the fridge, soft chunks of room temperature banana, and a crumbly cookie.

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Veronika wasted no time getting her hands in there! “Hot!” she said to me, feeling the carrot, quickly follow by a surprised, “Cold!” to the watermelon. She smooshed one of the banana pieces in her hand, but mostly passed that over in favor of the watermelon.

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The cookie certainly got a few nibbles, too. You can use any fruits or veggies (or cookies!) for this activity, or play multiple times with seasonal fruits at different times of the year. Because all of the foods were about the same size, they are fun for stacking, too.

For some slipperier tactile play, I cooked up green linguine noodles. These were great both for the texture (somewhat slimy, which can take toddlers a while to get used to) and for the color.

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I thought she might hesitate, but she loved mushing through the noodles with her fingers. Once she took a nibble, she looked at me with recognition. “Pasta!” she said.

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Don’t forget, toddlers learn about food when exploring like this. So the next time this happens…

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…don’t scold. It’s all about the process! And kind of like an art project, too.

Sensory Play with Frozen Veggies

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Not only is this game great for toddler sensory fun, it doubles as a comforting way to soothe all those teeth coming in. Veronika is currently getting 8 new chompers, in addition to the 8 front ones she’s already got, which made the timing just right.

To play, I simply opened up a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and emptied them onto an pizza tray.

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I added a big ladle for her to scoop with, but the lip of it was too tough to get under the veggies, so soon we switched to a regular dinner spoon.

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She took it from there! She loved the sound that the spoon made in the pan, shoveling through the veggie pile, and of course pushing them to the floor.

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The small carrots, peas, and corn will thaw pretty quickly, but remain cold enough to soothe, which means she was thrilled when she lifted the spoon to her mouth and got a taste.

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This became an impish game, testing if mommy was going to chide her for eating her “toys”. Not this time!

If you want to throw in some quick learning, talk about the colors of the different veggies!

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Mostly, though, I let her play solo; the veggies kept her happy on the kitchen floor for almost a half hour, a big win in my book!

 

Fruit-Filled Jigglers

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Jell-o desserts might just be the perfect sensory material for toddlers, equal parts play and edible snack! Here’s a fun twist on how Veronika has played with jell-o in the past. As always, I use the vegan jel dessert from Simply Delish.

Prepare the dessert according to package directions (we used strawberry), and pour into very shallow plates or containers as a mold.

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I added a few raspberries as “treasures” for Veronika to dig up. Any other berry or small pieces of fruit would work, too. Consider a fruit your little one hasn’t tried yet, as this game encourages taste exploration!

As I prepared dinner, I sat Veronika down in her high chair and scooped out the thin layers of jell-o. I gave her an assortment of cookie cutters, and let her go to town!

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It was fun to talk about the shapes she could make with the cookie cutters, and she did lots of poking and prodding.

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When she discovered the raspberries, she was delighted! She seemed a bit overwhelmed by the amount of jell-o on her tray, so I pared it down to one portion per cookie cutter shape.

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She grinned when she discovered the taste! This is the perfect activity to fill time while you cook.

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Rice Garden

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Here’s a fun variation on playing with rice as a sensory activity. Rice + bucket + toys never seems to grow old for tots in that 12 month to 18 month window.

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But today, instead of random toys, we made it a “garden” for Veronika to plant – and uproot!

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She loved the variation right away, pulling out the veggies, replanting the asparagus, and more.

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Of course then the fun became emptying giant handfuls of rice on the floor, which was just fine with me since I love how easy rice is to sweep up at the end.

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She kept busy with this the entire time I prepped dinner, crawling through big piles of it by the end.

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Mistress Veronika, not contrary, how does your garden grow? With lots of smiles of course!

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Beach Party

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If you can’t get some place warm and beachy this winter, here’s my favorite suggestion for entertaining kids indoors: Bring the beach to you!

This morning, we woke to gray skies and cold weather, so on a whim I set out a few beach towels, as well as all our summer beach toys. There were sand buckets and shovels….

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…a travel tic-tac-toe game…

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…inflatable pool toys, and more! Of course for added authenticity, we cranked up the heat a few degrees so the kids could put on their bathing suits.

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I had intended the game mainly for Veronika, but big brother Travis had to join in, and soon was “sunbathing”.

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If you want to go all out, there’s so much you can do here. Add tropical music, tropical snacks, or even real sand and real water for your little ones to scoop and play with in a sensory way.

Apologies for the dark quality of these photos; yes we played this game before the winter sun was even up!

Cheery O’s!

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O cereal is the deservedly one of the best first cereals for babies, and for so many reasons. The circles are easy for a little one to pick up with little fingers; they dissolve easily in the mouth, and those cute circles are just begging to be played with, too!

To wit, today at snack time I didn’t just set o cereal on Veronika’s tray; instead, I gave her two cups, one empty and one full, to turn it into a pouring and scooping game.

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She took right to it, and loved learning to pour directly from one cup to another, her best success with pouring yet.

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She also loved the small plinking sound that the cereal made if she dropped it into a cup by hand.

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And of course there is happy nibbling that takes place throughout the game! This is fast, fun, easy entertainment for any young toddler.

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Crumbly Coconut Dough

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With about 2 feet of snow outside, we needed something tropical around here! This easy sensory dough was the perfect indoor amusement.

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In a shallow bin, combine 1 cup coconut milk with about 2 cups cornstarch. You may have to adjust the ratios slightly; at first I had something similar to ooblek, but dusting the mixture with just a bit more cornstarch made it perfect. I crumbled it between my fingers and it began to look – and smell – like tropical sand!

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Add any fun items that will heighten the tropical vibe. I had a few bright purple flowers, as well as some star fish from the craft store. Veronika enjoyed plucking the flowers out, and testing their texture.

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More than anything, she loved simply stirring at the “sand”. This was a great way to keep busy and feel warm on a winter day.

Colorful Goo Bags

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These pint-sized sensory bags are just right for little hands, and can be played with in multiple ways.

To make the filling mixture for the bags, combine 1 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup sugar, and 4 cups cold water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture starts to become clearer and thickens. It will be almost like Vaseline!

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Remove from heat and cool completely. From here, I spooned it into snack-sized zip-top bags. Add a few drops of food coloring to each. I used six bags to get the full rainbow.

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Seal the bags and run under water to remove any mess on the outside, then squish with your hands until the color is incorporated. Now you have the perfect squishy bags for small hands!

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Veronika was immediately enthralled with the bags. She loved picking them up and squishing in her hands.

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She could pile them up, or lie one flat on the ground and press her hands down into it.

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Then she had some imaginative game going on for quite some time that involved transferring them from one pile to another and flinging them behind her back. She also loved hiding them under a dish towel and then uncovering them.

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At one point I got down at her level to talk about the colors she was holding, but for the most part, she played solo, quite happily.

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Needless to say, these were tons of fun in a small package.

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