Category Archives: Sensory Activities

Halloween Sensory Bin

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As most of you already know we love sensory bins and and holidays around here so this activity was perfect:

Halloween Sensory bin

What you need:
A Bin
Epsom salt
Orange food coloring
Plastic halloween toys(bats, spiders, snakes, bugs, eyeballs, ect)

What to do:
Fill the bin with epsom salt
Add a few drops of orange food coloring (C wanted hers to be light orange so if you want it darker just add more)
Mix until all of the epsom salt is orange
Throw in the plastic toys and mix up so your munchkin can dig through the salt and find them

We <3 Autumn craft

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In honor of the first day of fall, I am sharing a mixed sensory, craft project using all those leaves that if you are not living where I am are falling in your yard 🙂

What you need:
Dry Leaves
construction paper
glue
fall stickers

fall craft

What to do:
crunch up your leaves
use glue to write We ❤ Autumn
Sprinkle crushed leaves over the glue, let dry then shake off any excess
Add stickers

fall craft1

We ended up framing ours but didn’t get a picture of it like that

50 of our favorites from the Dollar Tree

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Around here we like to do crafts, sensory activities, and baking together, but we don’t like to spend a ton of money if we don’t have to, who does right? It may come as a surprise that a lot of the things we get for those activities are from the dollar tree.  Today I decided to share a list of our favorite things to buy from the dollar tree and what we use them for some of them you could probably guess and some may be things you would never really think about:

1. Hair Gel- We love hair gel, we use it for our Glitter Bags and also for sensory bins(dyed blue for water), I spy bags, and our Sensory Balloons

2. Dried Beans- We can usually find brown, white and red, and we love them all 🙂 We use these for sensory bins as well, we love the brown for rocks in the bottom of a nature bin, we also use them to make maracas, in our Sensory Balloons and for counting activities

3. Pipe Cleaners- You can use these for so many things, one of our favorites is flower rings which I am hoping to post about soon, but you can also string beads onto them, use them to make critters and so much more

4. Clay- They usually have the multi color packs, A loves to use that to make figures form video games and C loves to make shapes

5. Aluminum Pans- Baking with less clean up, to freeze the ice bricks in our Ice Brick Building Fun Post, making mud pies, to make special bubbles

6. Bubble Bath- There’s works surprisingly well, we love them in the bath and in the pool and to make the special bubbles I linked above

7. Pecans- They can be pricey in the grocery store but you can find them usually in a small bag at the dollar tree and save quite a bit, I wouldn’t buy them to eat plain but they are great for baking things like this Caramel Apple Pecan Pie

8. Glitter- which you may or may not want to use, I know some people consider it the herpes of the craft world, but if that’s herpes well we love us some lol, Glitter is too fun not to play with in my opinion, I am not sure there isn’t a way to use glitter, and we may have glittered far too many things in our days of fun

9. Ribbon- The ribbon I used in my DIY bow holder was actually from the Dollar Tree

10. Bubbles- because who doesn’t love bubbles?

11. Sidewalk chalk- which also works on black construction paper if you do not have sidewalks

12. Cotton balls- painting, doing nails, making Santa’s beard, fake snow, in our sensory balloons linked above

13. Stones- Sensory bin play

14. Water beads

15. Buttons

16. Instant coffee- dirt, mud, and in our coffee play-dohn

17. Measuring cups and spoons- for sensory play, water play, measuring, pouring, mixing, and as holders for paint and other small items

18. Construction paper

19. Glue

20. Craft sticks- so many things including crafts sticks letters

21. Drop cloths- to put under messy sensory play

22. Plastic animals- In many sensory bins, and play mat play including our jello ocean sensory bin and our Dinosaur play mat

23. sea shells

24. Fake flowers- we use them for mostly nature play like our Gardening bath tub

25. Beads

26. Balloons

27. Glowsticks- glow in the dark hunts, baths, and Balloons , light shows

28. Epsom Salt – A variety of options for sensory bins such as the dinosaur and ocean themed bins we made

29. Pasta- dry colored pasta bins, pasta necklaces, introductory cooking, and of course our Messy colored spaghetti pit

30. Food coloring- besides normal things we like to color bath water, epsom salt, and rice with it

31. Baking Soda- For a fun activity try out our Clay Volcanoes

32. Stickers

33. Coloring Books

34. Poster board- besides painting and coloring we like to use them as play mats after we decorate them

35. Vinegar- which is also needed for the volcanoes linked above

36. Glue sticks for glue guns(we even once found a glue gun there)

37. Picture frames- framing artwork or ideas like our 4th of July fireworks craft

38. Googly eyes- for making all types of fun creatures, including our rock friends

39. String, and yarn

40. Paint

41. Gems

42. Foam paint brushes and paint rollers

43. Bowls, and buckets- for sensory play, mixing, and storing

44. Cookie Cutters

45. Foam Sheets- not only for crafting but they make great bathtub toys, you can cut them to whatever shapes you want and they stick to the bathtub walls and eachother

46. Spices- we have used these as grass on a play mat, and for spice painting

47. Felt

48. At Christmas time- garland, jingle bells, mini ornaments, cookie trays, fake poinsettia plants

49. At Halloween time- plastic bugs, bats, ghosts, pumpkins, and gourdes

50. Feathers- for nature, sensory, and light table play

Do you have any Dollar Tree favorites?

Glitter bags for learning and creativity

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The original idea for this I believe came form play at home mom, but over time I have seen it everywhere. I love them because you can do more than one thing with them. You can practice letters, numbers, shapes, or you can just be creative and have fun. From my experience people from baby to adult like to play with them. The bonus is if you have older toddlers or young children they can help make them, because they may be one of the easiest things I have ever made.

What you need:
Ziploc bag (Gallon size)
Clear Hair Gel(I got mine at the Dollar Tree)
glitter
food coloring
White paper, poster board or desk/table (optional and makes it easier to see designs)

What you do:
Open the ziploc bag and dump in the entire bottle of hair gel
Squeeze a couple drops of food coloring in
Add some glitter
Close the bag and mix away

Now just lay the bag down, flatten out the gel in it and proceed to use your fingers to draw in the gel

Bonus: You can also make handprints, footprints, and use objects around the house or cookie cutters to make designs 🙂

gel bag

gel bag 2

gel bag1

Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of numbers or letters drawn in the gel, but it can be done, I promise 🙂

Sensory Balloons

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This was a simple activity and the munchkins both enjoyed it:

You will need:
Ballons ( I do recommend you use bigger balloons because they will be easier to fill, but you can use whichever you prefer)
Different things to put into the balloons (Try to use a variety of different textures)

Things we used to fill the balloons:

  • oats
  • mini jingle bells
  • hair jell
  • liquid soap
  • water
  • dried beans
  • shredded paper
  • cotton
  • small stones
  • water beads
  • buttons
  • cut up foam paperFor the babies that I watched I just let them feel the balloons and play with them (of course this requires direct supervision)
    For C and A I had them try to guess what was in each balloonballons filled
  • balloons filled1
  • balloons filled2

Coffee Play-Doh

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coffee playdoh1

coffee playdoh2 coffee playdoh4

This here is a recipe for coffee play-doh, I tweaked a bunch of different recipes and this turned out great.  I love that for younger kids they won’t get hurt if they put it in their mouth, I also love that it isn’t sticky, cleans up easy, and can be saved for a good amount of time 🙂

What you need:
3/4 cup of used coffee grounds
2 Tablespoons of instant coffee(not used)
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/2 a cup of salt
1/3 cup of cooled coffee

Mix it all up, you can add a little more flour or cooled coffee if it doesn’t seem the right consistency

We all had a great time playing with this, and we stored it for 4 months in a ziploc bag, it kept fine, C liked to take it out and use it as mud for play with animals and figures as well

Jello Ocean Sensory Bin

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We love the Ocean around here, so we make a lot of Ocean theme bins and crafts.  This by far was one of our favorites!

jello ocean bin

I used Blue Raspberry Jello for the water.

This bin has 2 regular size packages and was prepared according to package directions

When the jello set I just added some of the shells from vacation and some of the sea life stuff we had

This was a huge hit with both munchkins, which doesn’t happen often, considering they are 7 years apart.

Jello Ocean Bin 1

This little guy was hiding from the shark

Jello Ocean Bin 2
Cue the shark lol

Jello Ocean Bin 3
We also explored the texture, feel, and smell of the “water”

Jello Ocean Bin 4

After the jello started to warm up we again reviewed the texture, feel, and smell of our “water”

Gardening bath sensory play

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While C was  recovering from her surgery (You can see those posts here , here and here ) she didn’t feel much like taking a bath, but she was eating a lot of sticky stuff(icecream, jello, pudding) so she definitely needed a bath.  That’s when I decided to make her a fun bath.  She loves to garden and play in the dirt so I thought this would be perfect.

The Garden Sensory bath:
I used fake flowers from the dollar store, seeds also bought from the dollar store, a planter,  a watering can, and play gardening tools . and then I made some dirt

To make the dirt all you need is baking soda, water and food coloring
I used 3 boxes of baking soda, you just add enough water to make it crumbly and moist like dirt

I then set up some flowers and seeds for her to plant, added water to the watering can and to the tub, put some tops of fake flowers into the tub and viola a fun bath.

And it worked, she was all about getting into the tub and playing.  Looking back I wish I had added some green food color to the water, but it was still great

bath

bath1

Welcome to a Dinosaurs World, Sensory play

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We use a lot of poster board, foam paper and plastic animals around here, it seems that they are always being reused and almost always in new ways.

One way to use them is making a play land for dinos and bugs.

We chose a light brown poster board to resemble sand

I glued a piece of blue foam paper that I had cut into a pond shape, onto the poster board

I put some clear stones around half of the “water”

Added some cut pieces of wood, a stick and leaves

Added a patch of grass and a small cave house we purchased at the local pet store

Added some rocks, a small nest and plastic dinos and bugs we bought from the dollar tree

And boom hours of fun for the munchkins where the dinos have their own world.

dino setup

Simple quick sensory play ideas

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As you can probably tell we do a lot of sensory activities, and some of them involve a lot of set up, clean up or time in general.  I wanted to share some of the things we have done that are just quick and easy, but also a lot of fun!

#1. Add bubbles to the swimming pool
bubbles in pool

You could also add sea life, shells, bubbles to blow, a bubble machine next to the pool, fake flowers, cups bowls and a stariner

#2. Glow Balloons
glow balloons

This picture is kind of freaky, she looks like a ghost, but it showed the balloons best, just stick a glow stick in the balloon and blow it up, we used glow sticks from the dollar tree they came 10 in a pack and worked great I do recommend larger balloons and of course this works better in the dark, the original idea from this stemmed from a Play at home Mom post about glow hide and seek

#3. Add toys that you wouldn’t normally play with in the bathtub to their bath
bath time

These are foam magnet blocks purchased from discount school supply, but the options are basically limitless
Some Ideas: mega blocks, ponies, plastic animals, shells, plastic trucks and cars, a strainer, measuring cups, ball pit balls, fake flowers, dolls(not cloth), dinosaurs, foam shapes
This just switches up bath time and is a great way to give new life to old toys that aren’t played with often anymore

#4 more of a craft, but using chalk on black construction paper
chalkboard construction paper

A couple other ideas that I do not have pictures of:
1. Oats in a bin with any plastic toys
2. dirt in a bin with plastic trucks
3. water and ice cubes in a bin with penguins or polar bears
4. a water bin with droppers, measuring cups, and spoons
5. spices and condiments in muffin tins with a bowl for mixing
6. Yogurt or pudding paintin
7. throw pillows and blankets on the floor and see what they come up with

Do you plan on trying any of these? Have any ideas for another simple sensory activity? Please feel free to share and even link if you have a post on it 🙂