Under the Sea Sensory Activities

Last week we had two activities with an "Under the Sea" theme. Both activities involved sensory play. I'm sure over the years we will have many more "Under the Sea" themed activities! 

Activity #1
The first activity involved a bit of messy play! We are still somewhat new to messy play, so there's a bit of hesitation with one of my littles. For this activity, I purchased cheap shaving cream and use food coloring to color it blue to represent water. I gathered several of our sea animal collection and added it to our tray of shaving cream. I thought there would be hesitation (and I was right), so I had a bowl of warm water beside this. They could "save" the animal and wash it, which eliminated some of the "mess" - fine by me! By the end, I had one little alllllll in the shaving cream with her hands! 

I can't wait to try other messy play ideas when it's warmer out and we can do them outside!
Activity #2:
The second activity consisted of a sensory bin with rice, sea animals, scoops, and mini bowls. For this activity, I dyed rice different shades of blue and added the animals. Later I added scoops and bowls because my littles LOVE to scoop and pour! They are still learning  pretend play and they much prepared scooping and pouring! It still made for a cute activity and they loved it!
 We used the same sea animals from the previous activity.


Hands on with Fractions & Decimals

Happy Friday! Today I am sharing an activity you could use at home or in the classroom when teaching fractions and decimals! This activity works well to provide a visual base ten model for students while learning the concept of fractions and decimals in tenths. We used a dry erase board for a little extra fun, but you could easily use pencil/paper.

Materials:

  • Natural craft sticks
  • Colored craft sticks
  • Dry erase board, paper/pencil, etc. 

 I used a total of ten craft sticks each time to represent a base ten model. The colored craft sticks are what we were naming as a fraction and a decimal.


This activity could be used at the beginning of a unit to introduce the topic OR it could easily be used in math centers in a classroom! Students could create their own model and then identify the fraction and decimal.

Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are one of our favorite activities around here and I try hard to always have a sensory bin out! This style of sensory bin is always my little ones FAVORITE, so you could say it's a "regular" around here. It's so incredibly easy to put together and the materials are all budget friendly!

Materials:

  • Beans (any kind will do)
  • Various types of utensils (here I have wooden scoops, tongs, and a measuring cup)
  • Mini bowls (I believe they are for condiments)
  • Mini plastic shot glasses (YES, you read that right! They are the PERFECT size for sensory play!)
My girls LOVE to scoop and pour, so this is ALWAYS a hit! It is one we keep on rotation all the time. I change up the utensils every now and then, but the main components are always the same.



Sensory Play

Happy Friday! I'm popping in quick to share TWO sensory play experiences we've had lately. I always, always have a sensory bin out and usually switch them out every two weeks or so. These two activities didn't go in our sensory bin. We kept them separate, but enjoyed them so much.

Sensory Play #1: Every now and then I find this play foam in the Target Dollar Spot. I always grab it when I see it! This month we used green for St. Patrick's Day! Play foam is neat because it can form together to create a ball, but it's flexible and squishy enough to stretch and flatten (we made "pancakes" with it). It doesn't last very long in our house because things stick to it and it becomes a little icky (especially after being used as a basketball!), but it's always a fun activity with a different texture!
Sensory Play #2: Our occupational therapist recently brought us water beads and they are AWESOME! One of my kids loved squishing her hand down in them and loved the feel of it. One didn't prefer it, so we worked on pincer grip by having her transfer them from one container to the next. My oldest really enjoyed water beads as well! This is going to be a MUST in our sensory play from now on!

Mini Shape Book

Happy Thursday! I'm here to share a mini shape book I made that is the perfect size for an activity on the go! We are still working on shapes and colors, so I wanted to add an activity that would work on both.

On each page I added a new shape, but kept the same language "This is a...". Repetition is SO good for little ones and it's the way they learn. Here is an interesting article about why toddlers love repetition. So when your little one asks to read the same book for the 100th time - remember it is good for them (even if it can drive a mama crazy at times!).
I wanted repetition in this book so that once they mastered identifying shapes, they could begin to "read" the book themselves and feel success! To add a little bit of matching fun, I cut out felt shapes so they could identify and match shapes for an activity to go with the book.
I love to have various activities in my diaper bag to use at long appointments, at the baseball field, or anywhere on the go! This makes an easy activity to grab and throw in our bags and it doesn't take up a lot of space!

Shape Sort

A few weeks ago I shared this set of shape manipulatives that I scored at a local consignment shop! We have used them over and over for the past few weeks with exploring shapes!

This week I used painters tape to create four shapes (rectangle, triangle, square, circle) on our hardwood. We have sorted the shape manipulatives several times into each category. We've also just practiced walking and jumping on the shape while saying the shapes name! Such an easy way to discuss shapes every day when we walk right over them!



Shape Fun Outside

Last week while the weather was nice we should our SHAPE fun outside and combined it with a little bit of gross motor fun! I drew 6 shapes on our driveway in chalk: square, rectangle, circle, triangle, heart, and star. 

How did we work on MATH with GROSS MOTOR skills?

  • We identified shapes.
  • I called out shapes for them to run to.
  • We jumped on shapes. This works on jumping in a stationary position. 
  • We jumped from shape to shape, working on the skill of jumping forward.  

After some shape fun, the littles wanted to play basketball with big brother and draw with chalk (worked on pre-writing skills!). There are so many fun ways to work on various skills outside!


Shape Manipulatives Sort

A few weeks ago I went to a local consignment sale and found so many wonderful resources for great deals! There were thousands of books and tons of teaching supplies! One of the items I picked up was this set of shape manipulatives. They came in red, blue, and yellow in a variety of sizes. Some shapes are big, some are small, some are thick, and some are thin. I love the variety!

We have been looking at shapes and really focusing on the four basic shapes: rectangles, triangles, squares, and circles. This set was perfect for our shape study. I cut out shapes in construction paper and wrote the shape words on them. Then, we worked on sorting by shape.


How could else could I use shape manipulatives?

  • Sort by color
  • Sort by size
  • Sort by thickness/thin
  • Create patterns
  • Count edges and vertices of shapes
  • Sort and count 

Shape Hide & Seek

Happy Monday! We are still working on shapes, so I wanted to share this easy Shape Hide & Seek game with you all. Last week, I shared that I cut felt shapes for a DIY puzzle and used them again for a giant shape puzzle. We used those same felt shapes again for this activity! That's three activities you can do with those felt shapes! 

We haven't played hide and seek much, so I wanted to make sure all of our shapes were visible so that they understand the basics of the game. Find the shape and match it to the DIY puzzle. Eventually we will move towards hiding the shapes a little more, but I didn't want it to be frustrating in any way at first. This also works on visual skills as well - looking vertically and horizontally for a given object. You could also hide your shapes in a bigger area (maybe a specific room), but I wanted to keep it simple for this activity! 
You can play hide and seek with SO many objects/themes! The options are endless and it's great practice leading up to Easter egg hunting!

Shape Sensory Bin

We've had this Melissa & Doug puzzle for a while and I love that not only can you work on shapes, you can work on colors with it, too.



I saw on Fun with Mama blog that she used this puzzle for a fun Shape Hunt Sensory Bin, so we recreated it using black beans. The beans were less than $1 and it took less than two minutes to throw this together. Literally just dump a filler (you could use rice, too) and added the shapes.

Before the activity, I hid the shapes under the beans. Once they found a shape, we talked about what shape it was and they placed it in the puzzle. My little ones really liked this activity and played with the beans for the longest time (with and without the shapes)! 

Shape Bath

A fun way to work on shapes is in the BATH, so we had a "Shape Bath" last night! I bought two packs of sponges and cut them out in the four shapes we are working on right now: circle, square, rectangle, and triangle.

I took out all of our toys that we have in the bathtub for this activity and placed the shape sponges in the tub! First, I let them just freely play with the sponges. They put them on their heads, squeezed water out, etc. After some time we worked on identifying shapes (I asked them if they could find a circle, etc.).

Such a SIMPLE way to incorporate shapes into bath time and they really enjoyed a simple "toy" to play with at bath time!

Giant Shape Puzzle

Yesterday I shared a DIY basic shape puzzle that I created using a cardboard box and felt pieces. We used those same felt pieces to create a GIANT shape puzzle! All you need for this activity is white paper (THIS is the kind we use). I taped the paper to our coffee table and outlined the shapes.

This activity took only a few minutes to set up and served its purpose! It isn't something we will keep for long (lets be real - someone ripped the corner in less than a few hours!), but it worked for that days activities and can be easily created again! And I love that I was able to use the SAME felt pieces we'd been using!


DIY Basic Shape Puzzle

We are in the beginning stages of working on shape identification, so I wanted to share this very basic DIY shape puzzle. So many shape activities and puzzles include multiple shapes and I really felt it would be beneficial if we began our focus on the four basic shapes: square, circle, triangle, & rectangle. 

I created this DIY puzzle using two pieces of a cardboard box (thanks Amazon!) and felt pieces. I would suggest using a sturdier piece of felt than I did here, but this works for its purpose! You could also add velcro which would help the shapes stay in place. 
I have lots of fun shape activities planned and will be sharing lots here!

Visual Scanning Activity

We work on visual scanning quite often, so I thought I would share this easy activity for working on visual scanning skills. One easy activity is to use a book with various pictures to "find" certain objects. "Where is the cat? Where is the dog? Where is the banana?" etc.

My little ones LOVE this book, but when I would hold it up they would see two pages at a time and that can be visually distracting. So, I ordered a second copy from Amazon and used a box cutter to cut out each page.
Each page varies in the number of objects, but overall it's much less visually distracting! I'll hold up each page and ask them to find certain objects. For older kids, I would suggest the Look & Find Books, Where's Waldo, etc.

Valentine's Themed Gross Motor Activity

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is our last Valentine's themed activity. This activity is so easy to prepare and is a great way to work on gross motor skills.

Materials:
  • Various pieces of felt cut into hearts

First, I placed the hearts around the room and had my littles run to the colored heart I called out ("Run to pink! Run to orange!"). Then, we added in jumping on various hearts. 

Next, we placed the hearts in the sequence you see below and jumped from one heart to the other. 

After that, I just followed their lead and we did several other activities with them. One girl lined the hearts up in a row and jumped from one to the other. Then, she would tell her sister "Jump to pink. Jump to blue, etc". 


This was such an easy way to work on gross motor skills! I created with a Valentine's theme in mind, but will definitely keep this activity as a regular rotation! I love that you can work on various gross motor skills AND add in some color identification!

Valentine's Day Canvas Painting

Today I am sharing a Valentine's canvas fingerprint painting that my kiddos did earlier in the month. I planned it Valentine's themed and loved it so much that it is now part of our playroom decor!


Materials:
  • Canvas size of your choice (I actually planned on doing a smaller one, but had this already so we went with it!)
  • Various colors of paint
  • Print a heart of your choice in size 
First, I printed a heart and used painters tape to place it in the middle of our canvas. Next, I had my kiddos take turns painting fingerprints all around. This project took several hours since we had to let the paint dry after each kiddo took a turn (to keep the mess contained!). 

It turned out so cute and is the perfect decor for a playroom or a bedroom!

Sorting Hearts by Color

We have been working hard on sorting by color, so I wanted to share a few of the ways I've used the materials from our Valentine's Day fun for sorting. 

Activity #1: 
I purchased this set of multi colored hearts on Amazon and I found the printable at Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
For this activity we didn't use them as stickers. We just placed them onto the correct heart. We will use the hearts as stickers in the next activity.


Activity #2:
We used those same foam hearts for another color sorting activity! This time I cut out hearts from construction paper and taped them to the wall. We used the stickers to match to the colored heart. 


Acvitiy #3:
These foam hearts came in a pack of hearts that I used for Valentine Multiplication. We took a few minutes to sort the large hearts by color. You can sort into two groups as shown here (reds and pinks):

 Or you could take it a step further and divide into four groups (colors with and without glitter):

Activity #4:
I purchased these red and pink plastic hearts from Dollar Tree and we have used them in both sensory bins this month. For this activity, I gathered them and we sorted them by color.
Activity #5:
Another easy color sorting activity you can do is to sort candy conversation hearts! They are a classic Valentine's treat!

Valentine's Craft

We recently did a Valentine's Day themed craft that I thought I'd share today with you. We now have it displayed in our playroom for decorations and my littles love seeing something they made hanging up!

The printable came from Learning With Letty on TPT and can be found here. I used leftover scrap paper to cut out random pieces of paper in red, pink, and purple. 
It's really a simple and easy craft for Valentine's Day!



Valentine's Toddler Math Activity

Let's look at another Valentine's math activity for toddlers and preschoolers! I created this using PowerPoint, but I highly suggest purchasing a heart die cut because cutting these out (times two so both my girls could play it at the same time!) was a bit of a pain! 

This is a simple number matching game that works on number identification! 

Materials:

  • Numbers printed or written on hearts 
  • Cardstock
  • Laminator (optional, but suggest it for future use!)

I chose to use different colored hearts to make matching a bit easier! You could start with either color as the base and then have your child match the numbered hearts with the other color. You can expand this lesson by having them line up the numbers in order of least to greatest, greatest to least, odd numbers, even numbers, etc. SO many ways to expand or you can simplify it as well! We aren't ready for those expansions yet, so we will just stick with identifying numbers and add the enrichment ideas next year! 


Valentine's Day - Letters

Happy Saturday! While my littles aren't quite ready for this activity, I wanted to share three Valentine's activities I did with my son when he was around 3 1/2 - 4 years old! 

Activity #1:
I printed uppercase and lowercase letters on hearts. First, we lined up the uppercase letters in order. Then he matched the lowercase letter to the uppercase letter. 
Activity #2:
For this activity, we worked on finding the letter "V" within text! You can find this printable at Confessions of a Homeschooler.
Activity #3:
For this activity, we used dot stickers to form the letter "V" and did them in a pattern!

Valentine's Play Doh

Happy Friday! Today I am sharing a Valentine's themed Play-Doh set up that I quickly put together! To be honest, I haven't always loved Play-Doh, but it is SO good for fine motor skills so we pull it out fairly often for fine motor work!

For this set up, I used some of the materials I had in sensory bins and pulled the rest from various places around the house (the play kitchen and a wooden peg set). ANY materials will work for Play-Doh and we will use some tools to help roll the Play-Doh out.

Materials used:

  • Play-Doh (Wal-Mart)
  • Hearts table scatter (Dollar Tree)
  • Cookie cutters (Wal-Mart)
  • Wooden peg people (Hobby Lobby)
  • Clear plastic divider (Hobby Lobby)
  • Play food (Wal-Mart)


While the littles were playing with Play-Doh, I got the idea to take the mini hearts and "hide" them in the Play-Doh for them to find. It was great fine motor practice since you can squeeze the Play-Doh to find the hearts OR pull it apart to find the hearts. 


Valentine's Day Simple Sensory Bin

Last week I shared this fun Valentine's Day sensory bin with you that involved dyed rice, heart shaped cookie cutters, scoops, cups, etc. 


Not all of our sensory bins take a lot of time to set up, some are just simple and thrown together in minutes - like this one below!
I used a lot of the same materials here from the first sensory bin. I created two of these bins in a clear plastic container so they are easy to pull out, grab and go, or simple to keep on the shelf for this month.

Materials:

  • Pom poms (we went with reds, pinks, purples, and white for this bin)
  • Cups (Wal-Mart)
  • Wooden scoops (Amazon)
  • Heart shaped cookie cutters (Wal-Mart)

This bin can be thrown together literally in a few minutes and you're done! 


Candy Heart Science Experiment

Valentine's conversation hearts have so many uses this time of year. We have used them in multiple ways over the years. This year we tried a candy hearts science experiment!

Materials:
  • Conversation hearts
  • Clear cups
  • Various liquids 

For our liquids we used things we already had at home: water, Coke Zero, vinegar, and apple juice. Before we started, I asked the question, "Which liquid do you think will dissolve the candy heart the quickest?" We placed 5 conversation hearts in each cup and observed what happened immediately and over time. 

Immediately we noticed that the hearts sank in every substance, except the Coke Zero (actually 1 sank, 4 floated). They started fizzing in Coke Zero immediately. 


We checked the conversation hearts after one hour and again after two hours. Most had risen by that point! Such a fun way to discuss solubility! There's lots of printables online you can find to do this in your classroom and we could have used one at home. I chose not to for this activity since it was just me and my son doing it. We just talked about what we were observing throughout the process instead! 

Other ways we've used candy hearts in the past:
  • Sorting by color
  • Sorting by first letter
  • Graphing 
  • Fine motor skills

Valentine's Themed Do-A-Dots

One of my girls VERY favorite things to do is Do-a-Dots! It's so good for visual scanning and fine motor skills, so it's usually a weekly thing around here. I bought Minnie Mouse Valentine's cards for my girls, but I thought these DIY Do-a-Dot cards would be perfect for them to use!

Materials:


 These make the sweetest homemade Valentine's cards!


I also printed a few other Valentine's themed sheets for more Do-a-Dot fun! You can find them from Easy Peasy Learners here and iHeart Crafty Things here.
 I love how bright and colorful these are. They are perfect to display on the refrigerator this month!

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