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Farm Sensory Box

26 Jul

farm sensory box

With the start of Summer and outdoor weather, I thought the sensory  box would be put away for awhile.  But alas, Rain-a-geddon ensued so we needed to find some new indoor fun. Or rather, just upgrade some fun.  Last Summer I built Matthew this barn and farm, and I added a sensory box and toddler-approved game this year.

Sensory Box

farm sensory box activity toddler

Inclusions:

  • Popcorn for the base (already had)
  • Schleich animals (our animal of choice)
  • Tractor (a gift from Grandma!)
  • “Hay bales” (TP tubes cut in half)
  • “Stables” (Melissa and Doug play food crates)
  • Mini scoop (already had)

Total Cost: Free 

** I already had all the materials, but I suspect you’d be able to put this together for around $10-$12.  A large jar of popcorn kernels runs about $3 at Walmart, and these animals are also a good choice.)

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

farm sensory box

Books

farm books

1. Sheep in a Jeep. Matty is obsessed with jeeps right now. Sheep in a jeep? Oh my.  It’s on constant repeat around here.

2. Let’s Go To the Farm. We have two copies of this book. Both gifts. Both givers know a little something about kids. We’ve read this book at least a few times a week for the past year (at least).  It’s a lift-the-flap book, so we keep a copy in the car for road trips or restaurants.

3. Chicks and Salsa. I had to review this book for a college class years ago, and I loved it. It’s hilarious. I didn’t quite know if Matty would get it, but I guess it really is all about how excited the reader is, because it’s one of his favorites now, too.

Activities

  1. Try these Montessori inspired nomenclature cards.
  2. Matty is loving this farm-themed game on the Kindle.  We’ve been traveling a lot–so he’s soaking up the app time lately.  He’s actually learning too–he surprised me the other day by pointing to a picture of a moon and saying “creshent” (crescent). Play on, Buddy. Play on.
  3. Of course, we listened to Old MacDonald a lot. A lot.  We have this download with this version of OMD, which gets a little silly at the end.
  4. Farm Picture.  I printed two each of a variety of farm-themed coloring sheets.  I cut out certain parts of the picture, such as the tractor, barn, animals, and crops, and colored 1 copy.  On a large sheet of paper, I glued the remaining uncolored copy. Then we matched and glued the colored parts onto the uncolored outline of the pictures.

farm activity toddler

toddler farm activity

toddler farm activity

He’s still loving farms and farm animals (and tractors!!!)–any recommended activities?

Let’s Go to the Zoo: Sensory Play

4 Jun

zoo sensory box

I love the zoo! And apparently, this little guy does, too.

We bought a membership last May, and went once last Summer. It was very exhausting.  Our membership technically didn’t expire until the end of May this year, so we wanted to fit in a trip this Spring, too.  And…we’ve already gone twice. With no crying. No whining. No running away. Generally lots of fun.  I love this age.

We have an awesome zoo in Cincinnati, complete with a petting zoo (where you can brush the goat’s hair!), and a train.  We weren’t sure how Matthew would like the train, but we’ve been hearing “more train” nonstop for the past few days. Actually, we’ve been about nothing but the zoo (and Grandpa) for the past week.

The first time we went, he got a bit freaked out when the elephant actually started moving (ha!), but quickly warmed up once the elephant shot water out of his nose (like his new favorite book).  He was also totally freaked out that the giraffe got close enough to touch, but once we backed up, he was happy again.

The hands-on exhibits were an obvious favorite, too.  No fear about running around with goats, petting lizards, being surrounded by thousands of bugs and butterflies, running towards alligators, or feeding birds from his hands.  The playground doesn’t hurt either–I was so proud? that he climbed to the top of  the “big kid” playset while Eric and I sat on the bench. He even went through the tunnel, which is HUGE for him because he seems to be scared of small spaces and usually avoids this at gymnastics. Actually, he maneuvered his way around the entire playground for about 20 minutes before even realizing we weren’t right there with him–then he just sauntered over, said “hello” and ran away again (to try to get in another mom’s wagon…).  Getting so big!

Needless to say, we needed some serious “zoo play” at home.

Sensory Box Table

zoo sensory box

Yeah, we took over the whole table for this one.  After all, the zoo has a train, people, and little trucks that drive around (he was enamoured by this too).  I was going to add little roads and and such, but this is as far as I got during naptime. He was very happy with it when he woke up, so I let it be.

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

Apparently, the bear needed a transfer.  And we might need to have a chat about why polar bears and rhinos can’t hang out.

Inclusions:

  • pea gravel from the rockbox
  • landscaping rocks from the yard
  • faux moss vase filler
  • twigs
  • tupperware
  • oats
  • water
  • Toob Wild animals
  • Toob Zoo Babies animals
  • Whittle World people
  • Train track, Thomas, trees, and cars are hand-me-downs, so I don’t know the origins

Total Spents: $10

The only thing I had to buy was the animals, which I got from Hobby Lobby.  They’re originally $8.99, but I used a 50% coupon.  Not a bad toy investment since these things will last for years and can be used for a lot of activities.

Books

books about zoo

1. Dear Zoo.  Animals! Lift-the-flaps! Zoo! It’s like the toddler trifecta.

2. Put Me in the Zoo. This book doesn’t actually have much to do about the zoo,  but it says “zoo” a lot and I contribute that to Matty learning the word.  It also lends to some fun crafts, like the one below.

3. From Head to Toe. We have this Big Book, which is exciting on its own.  Each page shows the way a different animal moves and encourages kiddos to do it too. Lends well for animal charades!

Activities

zoo activities

1. Animal Count & Sort. Umm, just a fancy way of saying, “play with the animals!”.  I took them out to his rock box, and grabbed a few things from the house I thought would make it fun.  This is where he surprised me.  First, he put them in the tray, one in each spot, counting, “one, two, two, six”.  The fact that there was 12 animals and 12 spots was just a happy accident!  Then, he said they need a “dink” (water), because he noticed all the animals at the zoo had water.  This really held his attention for awhile.

2. Put Me in the Zoo Craft. I just traced the bear-thing character onto paper, then gave him “garage sale” stickers to make his spots. We did two colors of his choice before he moved on to bigger and better things. 🙂

3. Animal Charades. This stemmed from reading From Head to Toe.  Then I added crawl like a bear, crawl like a turtle, swim like a fish, gallop like a zebra, etc.  I think his favorite part is watching me do it.

4. Visit the Zoo! Did you see the first part of this post? He had so much fun!

5. I’m Going to the Zoo Sing Along. I remember singing this in 1st grade, and started singing it to Matthew in the car.  I had to brush up on the words, and this video helped.

6. Coloring Pages. I put these out on his coloring table for him to do what he wanted.  Just a little something different than plain paper.

Questions:

1. Zoos…love ’em or hate ’em?
2. What’s your “must see” animal when you go to the zoo?

Play Theme: Squirming Worms

29 Apr

exploring worms--activities for toddlers

What’s Spring without a little worm play?  While preparing the garden for Spring flowers, I came across a family of worms.  I called Matthew over to take a look, and let’s just say he was enamored! He kept asking to go outside to look for worms, so of course, I decided to take it a little further and put together some activities involving worms.

Sensory Box

worm sensory box

Inclusions:

  • Coffee Grounds (dirt)
  • Rocks
  • Cooked Spaghetti (worms)
  • Fake Moss
  • Paper Grass (carstock folded into zigzags)
  • Artificial Tulips (trimmed)
  • Shovel
  • Bucket

Total Cost: FREE (I already had everything from other sensory boxes or from around the house!)

I put a piece of styrofoam under the flowers and grass; this way, the flowers can be stuck into the styrofoam to help them stand up.  Matty likes to pull them out then push them back in.  And shovel the “dirt”.  And put the worms in the bucket.

Books

books about worms

1. Are You Ready To Play Outside? I love all the Mo Willems books, but I was afraid Matty might be a bit young to understand a book based completely on dialogue.  I don’t know if he “got” the plot, but he loved it from the first page, which starts of with “Piggie!”.  He giggled every time I read a word.  This book is about Elephant and Piggie upset about the rain ruining their plans to play outside, until they notice worms having fun in the rain.  Worms! Yay! Cue requests to go outside to dig in the dirt…

2. Worms. This was a $.99 Kindle book.  I’m trying to introduce more non-fiction books, especially when dealing with science themes, but I forgot to get worm books at the library.  But this Kindle book did the trick.  Lots of neat pictures to look at. Plus, it was on the Kindle.

3. Baby Loves Spring.  Again, love these books. And there’s worms squiggling in the dirt. Which Matty reminded me of when he came running in the room yelling “borms!!!!” after discovering it on the shelf.

Activities

 

 1. Dig in the dirt for worms, of course! I considered doing a Worm Farm, but I figured we’d have to keep it forever or risk meltdown.

2. Worm in Apple Cupcakes.  I had everything laid out to make these, then bam! A month of sickness, including 2 stomach bugs.  We’re definitely on a bland diet around here that doesn’t involve cupcakes.

3. Playdough worms

4. Rhymes and Songs.  Here’s two of my favorites, mostly because they’re easy to incorporate movement.

worm songs

Anybody else got a little worm lover?  Ever tried a worm farm?

Psst…I’m linking up @ My Healthy Happy Home for Toddler Tuesday. Check it out!

Color Theme: Purple

16 Apr

allaboutpurple

This is the last of our color themes.  I was going to do white, black, and brown, but he’s picked those up already.  Actually, I’m 95.7% sure he knows all of his colors, including pink and tan! Yay!

Color Learning Tip #6

Kids will be able to point out or pick up something purple before saying “purple”.  To check for understanding of color learning, give children opportunities to “show what they know” instead of asking them to tell what they know.

Sensory Box

purplebox

Again, with my experiment to try new types of containers, I decided to use an oversized  cooking pot.  This actually turned out awesome!  I kept it in a corner on the kitchen counter, and brought it out when preparing meals or when I still had a few bites left and Matty was all done.  He thought it was great, and meal prep went better.  I’ve actually been keeping a small bowl of toys on the counter for this exact purpose now.

Books

purple books

1. Purple Little Bird. Purple Bird lives in a purple house with purple decorations.  Something’s not quite right, so he explores, and discovers many other colors to add to his house.

2. Harold’s ABC. Yes, yes. Harold and his damn purple crayon.  I planned on using that book for this theme, but I think my little rascal would have thought he was totally hilarious and colored on the wall.  So we used this alphabet book instead.  The letters are incorporated into the illustrations, with some common words, c for cake, and odd words, a for attic.

3. Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. We got a Pete the Cat book for Christmas, and Matty loved it.  So we got this one for colors.  It explores all colors, too, so it’s been out for a few weeks.  It’s got a cat, so of course it’s a hit!

Activities

1. Blueberry painting. Slightly thaw a small bowl of frozen blueberries. Poke with toothpick. Paint!  Matty loved repoking the toothpick (fine motor), and ate the entire bowl of blueberries (the first time he ever ate them!).  Great activity.

2. Purple snack. Try raisins and grapes. If you’re more adventurous try eggplant and plums. Even more adventurous? Track down purple carrots!

3. Purple People Eater.  This song was on our Halloween mix, which we still listen to…toddlers know no bounds when it comes to holidays.

4. The Regs. Purple playdough, markers, stickers, and crayons.

Questions:

Has your kid had a “Harold” moment? Aka, coloring on the wall?

Psst. Interested in more color themes?  Here’s a color recap:

Blue          Red         Yellow       Green        Orange 

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