Next time you’re out shovelling the walk, shovel a bit into a bucket and bring it inside! Fill your sensory table with snow and try one of these fun activities for exploring the enchanting powder with your little ones!
Ice is a fun, inexpensive, and fascinating material to explore in your sensory table! I like to add color to the water before filling my ice molds, to add interest, and so that the colors begin to mix as the ice melts. Then I fill a variety of containers – ice-cube trays, of course, but also empty plastic food containers (Cool Whip, sour cream, yogurt, etc.), plastic cups, popsicle molds, muffin tins – anything to create an interesting shape. You can place these in your freezer, if you have the room, or if you’re lucky enough to have absolutely frigid temperatures as we did here, just place them outside overnight.
For the truly brave preschool teacher or parent, looking for a creative art project, I present bubble painting!! This can be a messy project, but very unique and with many opportunities for developmental growth. Directions first, benefits later.
My posts have been very wordy and heavy lately, so I thought I’d break it up a bit with an activity post. A while back I mentioned these fine motor activities, and I wanted to show one of my own adaptations here. I’m all about saving money, so instead of buying the cool ice cube tray, I used an empty Ferrero Rocher container I had on hand. You know, those delicious hazelnut chocolates. Their container is just the right size for medium sized pom-poms. Go ahead and buy yourself some. Do it for the children. If you’re morally opposed to self-indulgence, you could also use an egg carton, ice cube tray, or mini muffin tin. Just try to match the container as closely to your pom-pom size as possible.
Kids love to scoop! It’s great for their hand-eye coordination and both large and small motor skills. Cut shapes from craft foam (or find pre-cut ones, non adhesive of course) and set them floating in your sensory table or bathtub. Give the kiddos fish nets to scoop with (you can find them very inexpensively in almost any pet store or pet supply aisle of a grocery store or Wal-Mart). As a bonus, when the foam is wet, it will stick to smooth surfaces, so your children can create pictures as well! Talk to them about the shapes and colors they’re using to increase their awareness of shape and color names and characteristics. (“Wow! You made that house by putting the red triangle on top of the yellow square!) Happy scooping!
For more Welcome Weeks activities, click here!
Here’s a fun and noisy way to paint without much of a mess.
To start, you need large containers with lids, paper, and paints (I used craft paint just because I had it and need to use it up. It’s more permanent on clothes, but most of the mess stays inside the cans, and I was doing this on a messy clothes day anyway. You could certainly use the more friendly tempera paint.) Oh, and you’ll need rocks! Lots of little rocks. Doing this activity outside is certainly helpful!
I bet you didn’t know they were giving out free Montessori tools at your local hardware store! I’ll tell you how, but first I must start with the disclaimer that I am not a Montessori teacher. I studied child development, and so, I examined a range of developmental theory and teaching philosophy. I find that as I teach, I don’t strictly espouse any one pedagogy but pick from the variety I studied and implement them as they fit the child and circumstance. That being said, I would like to share with you a little discovery I made recently.
Here’s a color-mixing project that is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Fill three clear containers(jars are great) about 2/3 full with water colored blue, yellow, and red with liquid or powder water colors, or with plain old food coloring. Provide a few extra empty containers for mixing. Place all of these on a towel-lined tray, or in a sensory table. Provide a baster or dropper for transferring water, or provide several different instruments of varying sizes for experimenting. Children will be absorbed in this activity, transferring water and creating new colors, while building a bundle of developmental skills!
Mixing colors is a cognitive, as well as creative, activity. Moving the water with a variety of tools is a provides small motor strength, hand eye coordination, and an exposure to basic science tools. As the amount of water in each container changes, or as tools with varying capacities are used, discussion can be guided toward math concepts such as “less than” and “more than”. To support literacy, use this activity in conjunction with a great color mixing book, such as Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
My own boys love playing in colored rice! They’re not the only ones though. I had a tray of colored rice sitting on my counter one day when my friend dropped by to visit. During our conversation she began running her fingers through the grains, scooping and dumping as we talked. After a while she said, “There’s just something soothing about this stuff!” It’s true, the feel of rice sliding through your fingers, the soft rustle of it as it falls into a pile, there’s something that just captivates young and old not so young alike. So here’s how to make your own batch of colorful rice.
Pour a tablespoon or so of rubbing alcohol into a quart size ziplock bag. Add food coloring and mix. Pour in about a cup of dry rice, seal the bag, and gently work the bag until the color has been evenly distributed through the rice. Spread the rice out onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and allow it to dry completely. (Note: You’ll want to wear gloves and an apron to prevent staining while preparing colorful rice!)