4 Easy Toddler and Preschool Sensory Activities
During the weekday, our hardest time of the day is the downtime between getting home from work/daycare until dinner time. We are all tired, hungry, and cranky. I am sure most working and stay-at-home moms can relate. To combat the witching hour meltdowns, I have started to engage my 2- and 4-year-old in hands-on activities in the kitchen. While I cook, they create, make messes, and learn.
When I first started doing these activities, it seemed like a lot of work. Now I can spot an easy weeknight activity over one that should be saved or at least prepared on a weekend. In order to be able to pull out an activity quickly, I created a large plastic bin of materials and a list of activities. Every few weeks, I take an hour or two one evening and look on Pinterest for fun and easy activities. After I create my list of materials for the activities, I shop and then replenish the plastic bin with new materials and activities.
Here are some of our favorite weeknight activities lately:
Play Dough Snowman
With just a few ingredients and this homemade play dough recipe, your child can create a small snowman in your kitchen. Prepare the play dough ahead of time and store in a plastic bag. Place the play dough and snowman parts, including buttons (for eyes) ribbon (for scarves), small sticks (for arms), and raisins (for mouth) in your large plastic activity bin.
My boys love playing with Jelly Bags like the one pictured above on Growing Up a NJ Wife. These simple bags are very cheap and easy to make with hair gel, plastic bags, duct tape, and odds and ends. (See a tutorial here at Teach Preschool.) As an added bonus, I can have my 4-year-old help make these, during the weekend. Then he is super excited to pull them out as a weeknight quick activity.
Like most boys, my kids are obsessed with rocks. At any given time, I have at least a dozen rocks in my mudroom. During the warmer months, I frequently find rocks in the boys pockets and sometimes even under their pillows. Instead of throwing these rocks back into the yard, I put them in my big plastic bin. I also store shaving cream, paint brushes, and a spray bottle in the bin. The boys love to clean their rocks by filling up the spray bottle, pouring shaving cream on them and painting the cream on the rocks. They then rinse off the rocks using the spray bottle. While this isn't the neatest project, at least my kitchen floor gets a bit cleaner in the process.
Pretend Snow Play
Jillian from the blog A Mom With A Lesson Plan has a fantastic tutorial for a Weather Sensory Tray. The sensory tray requires a cookie sheet, ice, small toy cars, dolls, and a homemade igloo. If it's too cold to play outside, I frequently pull out this simple activity. It keeps the boys entertained until the ice melts or their hands get too cold.
What fun sensory activities do your children enjoy?