tiny taughts

Spooky sensory table

Supplies: Shredded cellophane or plastic in orange and black, Halloween spider web, glow sticks, various reptiles and bugs, pom poms, cups and tongs

How to: Set up your table with the cellophane and/or spider web as the base. Our sensory table has two sides so the spider web was in the other half. Hide items like the glow sticks, bugs and pom poms in the material. Encourage your tot to dig them out and sort into cups. This was our somewhat less messy sensory table since we moved it indoors. We did try one with orange lentils and beans but wow, it went everywhere!

Age: 26 months, 2.5 years

Frankenstein’s monster

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Supplies: toliet paper tube, googly eyes, 2 golf tees, paint, marker, safety scissors, glue

How to: Draw a line on the tube to separate the hair area from the face. Ask your tot to paint with one color on the hair side, doing your best to guide them. Choose another color for the face. Let paint dry for a couple hours. Show them how to cut the hair with the safety scissors. This is awesome practice! But the cardboard might be tough to cut so you might have to help them finish it up. Draw the mouth with marker. Glue on the eyes. Place two holes in the neck for the “bolts” and let them push the golf tees in. Monster complete!

Age: 26 months and 2.5 years old

Inspiration: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2009/10/frankenstein-craft.html

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Wormy apple plates

Supplies: paper plates, red paint and brushes, green and brown paper, pipe cleaners, “O” cereal like generic apple jacks

How to: Ask your tots to paint the whole plate red. While the paint dries, invite them to string the cereal onto the pipe cleaners. This is an awesome fine motor activity. It’s also a yummy snack and these tots would string them on and then off to eat them. So I had to string just a few more on later on. ;-) They knew how to do it and that is what counts! Next, they can glue the leaves onto the apple stems or wherever they prefer. Glue (or staple) the stem onto the plate. Help them poke both ends of the pipe cleaner worm through the plate and twist it in the back. Display up high so they don’t eat their artwork!

Age: 26 months; 2.5 years

Inspiration: http://kindercraze.blogspot.com/2012/09/paper-plate-apples.html

Apple playdough

Supplies: Red playdough, silk leaves, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, black beans or beads, play dishes

How to: Set up the playdough activity in a sectioned dish if possible. The organization appeals to tots who like to sort. Cut and twist the pipe cleaners into “worms”. The black beans or beads can be apple seeds. Ball up your playdough, stick a leaf in it and put it in the center. Then watch them create. CB made quite an apple monster but was not in a camera-happy mood that day. 

Age: 26 months

Inspiration: http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/apple-play-dough-invitation-to-play.html

Apples sensory table

Supplies: Oatmeal, bird seed, cinnamon sticks, plastic apples, red pom poms, red and green marbles, scoops and cups, apple squeeze balls (optional)

How to: Pour the items in or ask your tots for help. Talk about the color red. Invite them to smell the cinnamon sticks. Sit back and let them explore. They also filled some apple cider pints with the oatmeal fill to make shakers.

Modification: We used this same base to create a farming small world sensory table later on. We added farm animals and tractors, and made pens out of popsicle sticks. Unfortunately, it was either raining or I forgot to take photos while she played.

Age: 26 months; 2.5 years

Inspiration: http://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/apple-cinnamon-sensory-bin.html

Apple squeeze balls

Supplies: Red balloons, playdough, rice, pasta, and/or beans, funnel

How to: We made playdough and rice “stress balls” for a little sensory fun. Start with the easy one — rice. Attach your balloon to the funnel. Pour the rice in until it’s full. And tie. With the playdough, mold a stick shape on your table. Open up the balloon, fit over the stick and push the playdough in. Repeat until the balloon is full. I then attached silk leaves with some floral wire to complete the look. Then give it a good squeeze! These balls are good for parents too! Experiment with other fills like pasta, beans or even sand. We used these balls in our printables tray indoors and later on, our sensory table outdoors.

Age: 26 months

Inspiration: http://www.creativeplayhouse.mumsinjersey.co.uk/2012/05/sensory-balloons-toddler-stress-balls.html

Apples: First bite!

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If you are catching the tail end of apple pickin’ season, here is how we took a bite out of the season.

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Supplies: Cardstock, printer, laminating sheets (optional), hole-punch and yarn … and lots of books about apples!

How to: I introduced CB and her friend, K, to the apple theme with this invitation to explore. We picked out several apple-theme books from the library. CB’s favorites were Apples, Apples, Apples; Apple Pie ABC and Ten Apples Up on Top. I included some printables from 3 Dinosaurs. We had memory cards, 2-piece puzzles and lacing cards. Laminate them if you want them to last. With the lacing cards, use a hole punch to outline the shape. I then tied a piece of yarn to one hole and tied the other end to a bobby pin. The pin gives the tot something to hold and it isn’t sharp like a needle. I also included some apple squeeze balls — I’ll talk about those more in my next post!

Age: 25 months, 2.5 years

Source: 3 Dinosaurs blog; http://3dinosaurs.com/printables/packs/apple.php

Mining sensory table

Supplies: Sensory table or bin, magnetic wand with steel-ringed chips, black beans or other fill, scoops, bowls, tongs, small dump trucks (optional)

How to: Mix in the steel-ringed chips into the black beans. Invite your kiddo to dig in with their favorite scoops and encourage them to use the tongs to pick up items. After they have explored a little, introduce the magnetic wand and let the mining magic begin! My girly was scared of the wand at first but now she loves it. It also makes cleanup a little easier at the end. ;-)

Age: 25 months

Inspiration: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2011/06/mining-for-magnets.html

Flower collage

Supplies: contact/laminating paper, tray, garden

How to: Place a sheet of contact paper sticky side up on a tray. Explore your garden. Point out flower names and colors. Pick out a few that are on their way out and have her place them on her tray. Make sure you explain that you only pick flowers with a grownup so she doesn’t come back and “prune” the garden later on. CB chose some mulch for her collage too. When she is done, do your best to seal in the foliage with another sheet of contact paper. If it’s flat enough, it could be a placemat. or you can hang it up on the wall.

Modification: If you don’t have many flowers at this time of year, include some fall leaves in the mix.

Age: 21 months

Early alphabet

My tot has been a pro at the ABC song since she was 20-some months. Recently I realized that just because she knows the song, it doesn’t mean she can recognize each letter. She knows a few but I have been slacking on letter recognition. So we had an alphabet week full of books, a sensory bin, play dough and painting. Here are some activity “recipes” …

Activity: Crayon resist

Supplies: white crayon, watercolor paint, sponge brush, thick paper

How to: Dilute some watercolor paint with some water. I chose her favorite color — orange — but you might want to try something darker. With white crayon, write several letters on small pieces of paper. Choose a few she knows and a few she doesn’t. Give her the water paint, sponge brush and paper. And watch the magic happen! We loved how the letters just appeared. Once they dried, the magic did fade but maybe we needed a stronger color.

Age: 25 months

Inspiration: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/05/alphabet-for-starters-magic-letters.html

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Activity: Alphabet play dough

Supplies: play dough of any kind, alphabet cookie cutters

How to: This is a simple one. Just make some letters together. You can spell words or her name.

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Activity: Alphabet sensory bin

Supplies: Some “fill” like rocks or rice, letters from a puzzle or other toy

How to: Bury all of the letters or just a few in the sensory bin. Announce what each letter is upon discovery. We also added some letter “carrots” that I never got around to burying in our real garden. I also didn’t get a great photo of this activity. I made dinner instead. ;-)

Inspiration: http://playinghouseinmaryland.blogspot.com/2011/08/alphabet-learning-fun.html