Colored Epsom Salt Sensory Bin: A New Baby!

I am so excited to be a part of such a fun and creative group of people in a series on sensory play.  Sarah of Little Bins for Little Hands has organized 40 Sensory Bin Filler Collaborative Series where you will find OVER 40 different bloggers with OVER 40 different ideas for sensory play!  It has been so fascinating reading all the different ways to create new sensory experiences for the munchkins.

We chose Epsom Salt as our filler and it has been such a fun filler to use.

Our theme… A new baby!  The munchkins will welcome a new precious bundle into the family any day now.

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Epsom Salt is often found in the pharmacy section of the grocery or drug store.  It feels like salt, but it’s a little larger and looks more like crystals.  Little Miss says “it’s so pretty”.  We bought two, 4 pound bags, for our play from Walmart.  We only used about 3/4 of the bags for our bin.

We started off by dying the salt pink and blue (as the gender of our new arrival is yet to be determined).  Dying Epsom Salt is super easy.  Divide the salt into two large ziplock bags and then add 7-10 drops of liquid food coloring.  Simply shake the bag around until all the salt looks colored and then lay it out on a cookie sheet to dry for a couple hours.  I have found no color transfer onto little hands when playing with the salt.

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We added silicone muffin cups and the Safari Ltd Bundles of Babies TOOB to our bin.  I also set out a few different tools for the munchkins to explore the salt with; scoops, cups, and funnels.

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The munchkins have LOVED playing with this bin.  We have used it when talking about the new baby coming home and the changes that will take place.  We discussed what the baby will need and ways the munchkins can be of help with the baby.  Little Miss exclaimed she was going to be a “great big sister”.  I assured her she already was!

Little Miss napped the babies in their “cribs”.

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Mr. B pretended he was “hugging” the new baby.

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But most of all, the munchkins were so excited that they finally had a sensory filler that worked so well in a funnel.  They spent most of their time watching the little crystals pour out into the bin.

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With Epsom Salt being similar to sand, it is extremely easy to brush off and vacuum up.

It is NOT to be ingested, so supervision is important with little ones.

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We have also used this sensory bin as a present for other future big sisters or brothers.

We have used Epsom Salt for other activities, as well.  We have created salt trays to practice letter writing and creating shapes.  We also have used it in art activities as a glitter.  It is a material we will continue to use in play!  We have had so much fun!

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ENJOY!

Please link up any activities or sensory play where you have used Epsom Salt!



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Easter Foam Window Clings

We created window clings out of craft foam this week with an Easter theme.  It was such a fun and simple activity to throw together for the munchkins.

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I gathered some cookie cutters, scissors, pencil, and stack of colorful craft foam.  I put my feet up after the munchkins went to bed, traced, drew and cut out simple Spring and Easter themed shapes.  I have to admit craft foam is not my favorite art material.  However, it is inexpensive and comes in large amounts.  We buy ours from the DollarTree or Walmart.  I thought these came out pretty cute and the munchkins had so much fun with this activity that we will use craft foam again in the future.

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Flowers, bunnies, carrots, and easter eggs were all a part of Easter scene.

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Once I cute out all the pieces, I laid them out on trays and set out a small bowl of water.  This was Little Miss’ reaction when she came home from school.  She was so excited to see all the different shapes and colors!  And of course anything that allows her to get her hands wet is going to be so much fun!

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She simply dipped the foam into the water and began arranging a happy scene up on the window.

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It was amazing how well the foam stuck to the window and to one another.

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She would set up a scene and then take them all down and start over.

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We returned to this activity all afternoon and it still remains up on our window when they want to play with it again.  It looks so cheerful and happy.

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We will definitely be creating new scenes for similar activities.  What I loved most about this was it was simple, inexpensive, and mess free!

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ENJOY!

Spring Slime: An Invitation to Play

I have been wanting to make a slime recipe with the munchkins for as long as I can remember.  So, we set out to try a few different ways of making slime.  I cannot believe I have waited this long to try one of these recipes with them… we had so much fun!

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We first found this recipe from the fantastic MamaPapaBubba (an amazing blog).  It seems to be a popular recipe for slime as I found similar variations of it around the internet.  The recipe calls for Elmer’s Glue, Borax (Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner, water, and food coloring).  You can find the recipe in the link above.

Little Miss loved mixing the ingredients together.  I have to admit I have been hesitant to use Borax with the munchkins, but have done research that it is safe as long as long as it is not ingested.  However, you should decide what you feel most comfortable with your own munchkins.

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Once we mixed it together, we divided the slime into three different containers and added food coloring.  Pink, green, and blue slime looked pretty inviting to play with.  I added a few Spring cookie cutters,  flower silicone muffin cups, spoon, whisk, and rolling pin.  Little Miss was jumping up and down to dig in.

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She stretched, smushed, pulled, and bounced.

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She squealed with delight!  “It’s squishy!”  “It’s cold!”  “It’s AWESOME!”  I loved listening to her describe it.  She made slime cupcakes and cookies.

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She created slime faces that oozed and melted!

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She could not wait for Mr. B to wake up from his nap to share in the fun.  And, sure enough, he loved it just as much as she did!

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He was all giggles.  He kept saying “popping” as the slime made noises when smushed under his hand.

They made masks that they peeked through.

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You know it has been a successful activity when your three year old turns to you and says “Mommy, thank you so much for making this.  This is SO fun!”.  But, of course adds… “well, I made it too!”.

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We will be trying out other ways to make slime and will be sure to share which has been our favorite with you!

ENJOY!

* Just a note – Little Miss did have watery eyes towards the end of play.  I am not sure if it was a reaction to the Borax, but it passed.  Again, supervision and your discretion when using non-edible ingredients.

Magnet Sensory Bin

We have created a few fun sensory bins over the last few weeks that we will be sharing on the blog.   However, this one has been really entertaining.  Our Magnet Sensory Bin!  Magnets are so intriguing no matter what your age, but I have never seen the munchkins in such awe when we first created this.

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They received a magnet kit for Christmas that included magnet wands, magnet chips, magnet balls, etc.  So, of course, we had to make it into a sensory bin for added learning and play.  We bought some brightly colored beans from the grocery store as our filler (you could use just plain rice or beans).  We then added some of the items from the kit, plus various objects that we had on hand.  The items we added were both magnetic and non-magnetic (pipe cleaners, washers, screws, goggley eyes, paper clips, plastic shapes, etc.)

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We have played all kinds of games with this bin.  After discussing magnetism, which I am pretty sure went right over their heads, we sorted which items were magnetic and which were not.  They loved using the magnetic wands to test out the various objects in the bin.  They learned that some magnets are much stronger than others.

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They loved seeing who could get the most amount of objects on their wands.  They even played tug-a-war to see who had a stronger magnetic force.  However, their absolute favorite game was hiding the objects in the beans and then locating them with the wands.  The magnetic items would come right of the beans just by holding the wands directly above them.

We even did a little sorting of objects.

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The play has been continuous with this sensory bin.  We will definitely recycle this idea again!

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ENJOY!

Simple DIY Bird Feeders

The munchkins have continued to explore their interest of backyard birds this week.  They made their very own bird feeders!  They made two different kind of feeders that are so easy for little hands to create.  And, we even added a little St. Patrick’s Day fun to the feeders!

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We started out with a simple toilet paper roll bird feeder.  We spread peanut butter all over the toilet paper roll.

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Then the messy fun began… the munchkins simply rolled the peanut butter covered rolls in a shallow dish of bird seed.  They loved that they were able to get messy!

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But, we didn’t stop there.  We decided to make these simple feeders into Leprechauns!

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I did most of the Leprechaun hats by myself so that the munchkins could simply glue them on their feeders.  I started out cutting out a circle of cardboard and used a cut-up paper towel roll to form the hat.  I then covered it with green felt using a glue gun.  I added a strip of black felt and yellow felt to finish the hat off.  I poked a hole into t the base of the hat.  Then twine was tied into a knot to create a loop to hang the feeder up.  Very simple!  And the munchkins thought it was fun to add them to their feeders.

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The munchkins continued their feeder making with a few older oranges we had leftover in our fridge.

We sliced them in half and scooped the inside out of the peel.  This created small orange “bowls” to hold bird seed.  Mr. B commented on how “sticky” the insides were.  But, we all LOVED the smell.  We poked holes in both sides of each halved peel.  Then we used yarn to create a loop for hanging the feeder.

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The munchkins used spoons to scoop bird seed in each “bowl”.  They love scooping and pouring, so they enjoyed this part. I thought they turned out so pretty!

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The munchkins could not wait to hang their feeders they had created outside! This activity was a great way to continue our exploration of backyards birds.  And, now they just stand at the back window waiting for some feathered friends to visit!

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ENJOY!

Backyard Birds Sensory Play

Sensory play is part of our every day.  We have a sensory table that we rotate every couple weeks with various themes, fillers and materials.  However, in addition, I try to provide the munchkins with simple sensory experiences that encourage learning through play each day.  This week we are focusing on birds in our backyard.  We are truly ready for Spring!

To start the week off we created a very simple sensory bin using none other than bird seed as our filler.

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We included in our bin:

A set of the Safari Ltd Backyard Birds TOOB

Two small bird nests and bird eggs from Michaels Craft Store

Scoops and small cardboard pots

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The munchkins were super excited to play with the birds and the bird seed.  They had no idea they were learning the whole time we played.  We discussed the different types of birds, how they build nests, and lay eggs.  We talked about what they eat.  The munchkins became totally engrossed in the life of a bird.

Mr. B insisted that a blue bird buries his head in the seed in order to eat.

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Little Miss was certain that all the local birds come to watch the baby birds hatch.

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They scooped, poured, and buried.  They even made the seed fall on the birds like rain because that is what they thought it sounded like.  They created trees out of the pots for the birds to nest in.

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But, the very best part about this particular sensory bin is that they finally played “together”.  They took turns filling their small hands with seed and asking the other if their bird was hungry.  This went on for quite some time.  I loved watching them interact and play together.

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And, it was really cool to hear Little Miss teaching her daddy all the different types of birds she had learned about during dinner time.

We will be using this seed for another project later in the week, so stay tuned for more of our backyard bird learning and fun!

ENJOY!

Mud Play Dough Bunny Garden: Invitation to Play

Who is ready for Spring?  We cannot wait for warmer weather where we can be outside.  Little Miss has been on a “gardening” kick.  She has been begging her grandma to teach her how to plant flowers when Spring arrives (sadly, I do not have a green thumb).  So, we started with our Flower Shop to try to feed that desire to learn.  And then we moved onto our Mud Play Dough and Bunny Garden.  I found these amazing little fences in the DollarSpot at Target.  I just knew they had to be used in some kind of play.

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I started out by trying a new play dough recipe using just two ingredients:  hair conditioner and cornstarch.  I first saw this recipe at Paging Fun Mums.  It is easy and quick (and the conditioner makes it smell delicious).  I found it stickier than most play dough, so I added 1/2 cup of flour to mine.  The one problem I ran into with this play dough was the color.  I know, I know, the color is not very appealing.  I used watercolors and then later food coloring to try to make a dark brown.  It just stayed this color… so we went with it.

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The fun part was that it actually was a lot like mud… sticky, gooey and when it dried it flaked up like dried mud.

I next set out a collection of various items that would resemble vegetables, fruits, and flowers for the munchkins to create their very own gardens.  I included buttons, beads, cut up pipe cleaners, cut up straws, and pom poms.

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And… of course sweet little flocked bunnies.  We found these at Hobby Lobby and the munchkins love playing with them.

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The munchkins jumped into this initiation to play immediately.  They first spread their “mud” out in their fences and then began planting their vegetables and flowers.  They talked about what vegetables they were planting for the bunnies to eat.

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Little Miss even buried some of the buttons in the mud, saying the bunnies had planted seeds.

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The bunnies seeded, watered,  and pruned their gardens.  The munchkins had a great time with this simple play!  I loved watching their little imaginations take off and allowing them to go where it takes them.  The bunnies eventually moved out of the garden and onto other activities, but the play lasted for a while.

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What simple play have your munchkins been up to?

ENJOY!

Flower Shop: An Invitation to Play

What do you do with all those left over flowers you received for Valentine’s Day?  Turn them into a sweet invitation to play Flower Shop.  My wonderful mom brought me tulips (my favorite) for Valentine’s Day.  Typically, I just throw out my flowers as they begin to wilt, but this time I decided to let the munchkins enjoy them for a while first.

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I set out a tray with the cut flowers, some play dough, miniature vases, and pots.  The munchkins were so excited to have their very own flowers.  Their imaginations got right to work with the play.   The munchkins turned into mini-florists.

They filled their vases over and over again.

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They made play dough bouquets.  We talked about how they felt and how they smelled.   Mr. B kept saying “achoo” every time he smelled the flowers.

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They filled pots with play dough and made different flower arrangements.

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We had checked out books at the library about the flower and plant life cycle.  We used this invitation to play as learning experience, as well.  Little Miss was especially fascinated with the fact that flowers start as a seed.

It was very fun to watch them make their own creations with the tulips.

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We even worked on patterns.

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And as the flower shop became mostly petals scattered about, we filled up a bin with them and turned it into a sensory experience.  Mr. B was very fond of running his fingers through the petals and, of course, throwing them about the room.

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I will no longer throw away flowers that begin to droop in a vase.  Instead, I will let the munchkins explore and play.  This simple invitation to play was used for multiple days until all the petals made their way into the bin.

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It is amazing that something that can so easily be thrown out can provide such entertainment!

ENJOY!

Go Fish Water Play!

We played a wonderful game of Go Fish this week, but not the card game.  We used water and ice for this simple activity!

The munchkins love water play!  Anything that allows them to dump, pour and transfer water equals fun for them.  Even better if there are ice cubes involved!  We decided to turn simple water and ice cube play into a fishing game.  And they LOVED it!

We happen to have a silicone ice cube tray shaped like fish, but you certainly do not need the ice to look like fish.

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I added a little food coloring to water and poured it into the ice cube tray.  The colors made the game more appealing to my eye, but the munchkins were just as happy with regular ice cubes.

I set out tools for them to “fish” with including scoops, nets, and cups.

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I filled up a large bin with cold water and dumped the fish in.

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Go Fish!  The munchkins grabbed their fishing gear and dove right in!

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The colored ice did come in handy with teaching Mr. B his colors.  We would ask him to find the purple fish or the blue fish.  So, it was a fun learning experience for him.

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Little Miss tried to make her own little fish bowl.  She kept asking why the fish were “getting smaller”.  We talked about the ice melting and turning into water.  So, it was also a great learning experience for her.

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The nets became their favorite tools to use to catch the fish.

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Although it was not a competition, the munchkins enjoyed seeing who could scoop up the most fish.

The water did start to discolor as the fish melted, but because we diluted the food coloring, it washed right off little hands.

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Once all the fish melted and the mixed colors created murky water, we refreshed with new water and plain old ice cubes.

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And, they had just as much fun trying to catch the fish.  So, the next time your munchkins are in need of a quick, simple activity…  hit up the ice maker, fill a tub of water, and GO FISH!

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ENJOY!

Monster Bean Bag Toss

We have been a little cooped up around here with the freezing temperatures. I am not great about getting them outside when it is cold.  So, needless to say, we are always looking for fun gross motor activities that we can play indoors. We created a Monster Bean Bag Toss this week out of a few materials we picked up from the store.

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This fun activity provided ongoing play in our house AND they were simple to make.

Here are the items we used to create these moving targets.

Styrofoam Wreaths (Walmart)

Ribbon (Walmart)

PomPoms (DollarTree or Walmart)

Sewing Pins (Walmart)

White Paper

Yarn (Walmart)

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I simply wrapped the ribbon around the wreath and pinned it to secure it in place.

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I used a sharpie marker and white paper to create eyes.  A PomPom was used from our Pom Pom Sensory Bin for the nose.  Again, I used the sewing pins to secure the eyes and nose into place.  The wonderful part about this project  is the Monsters can be taken apart and each material can be reused.

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I then used yarn to hang the monsters from the ceiling.  I tied ours to our ceiling fan, but you could easily tack them in a door way or ceiling.

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The hardest part about this activity was capturing the fun!  But, we DID have a blast!  Not only were the munchkins moving, but the targets were constantly swinging.  This made photos almost impossible.

The munchkins gathered bean bags, light weight balls, and even large pom poms to use for throwing.

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Not only were they throwing and tossing.  They played catch with one another through the Monsters.  They ran all around gathering their ammo.  It got the munchkins up and moving!  It helped with some of that “cooped” up feeling.  A perfect indoor gross motor activity for a cold day!

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And of course, Little Miss, thought it was fun to make faces through the holes!

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We will definitely use these throughout the next couple months when it’s too chilly to venture outside.

Let me know what gross motor activities your munchkins get into on cold days?

ENJOY!