Toddler Activities

Invitation to Play: Halloween

This is the first year that our toddler has really gotten excited about costumes and trick-or-treating so I’ve really enjoyed celebrate the holiday in many ways with her! I set out some beans, split peas, pom poms, foam characters and kinetic sand for a Halloween themed play tray for this week.

If you don’t have Kinetic Sand yet, you need some We have a couple packs of purple and I’m planning to get some of the sand-colored sets! It is the most relaxing to play with – I think I have as much fun as our toddler when we get it out.

It holds its shape for long enough that you can mold it, but still manages to be soft and pliable. Kinetic Sand doesn’t dry out which is perfect because I can leave it out in our play tray or flisat table without ruining it. It is mostly easy to clean up, unlike actual sand, although I have a hard time vacuuming every bit up from our Berber carpet. Still, all in all I highly recommend!

Toddler Activities

Invitation to Play: Maple Syrup Play Dough

This week I made the most delicious smelling play dough with my toddler – maple syrup play dough. I used a recipe found on The Imagination Tree’s site. It had been such a long time since I had made play dough and it was much easier than I anticipated!

I think this is going to be the beginning of a play dough kick for us! The Imagination Tree has so many different and unique recipes that we need to try – I’m thinking gingerbread play dough next!

I filled this week’s play tray with some dried chickpeas, straw grass, leaves, and, or course, acorns we’d collected last week. I can’t get over how fragrant the maple syrup play dough is.

Toddler Activities

Water Painting

When I’m in the kitchen I like to engage my toddler in either helping me or doing an activity at the table. Given the option I think she would always choose to paint, but I do not particularly love to set up paint or clean up paint, so we mostly do paint with water activities.

One of her favorites is this Melissa & Doug water painting book.

How cute are these? I love that each page has its own watercolors. The illustrations are engaging and the colors paint nicely.

I think these came in a set of three booklets. There are several different booklet themes (ocean, safari, garden, etc) and each comes with 20 pages and a little paint brush.

Have you tried these? What paint activities are your go-tos?

Toddler Activities

Tape Track

Both girls were feeling under the weather and a tad bit on the fussy side so we spent the day at home. I needed a couple of novel activities to help us get through the day, so I brought out some painter’s tape and made a track on our living room rug. Does any toddler not love cars?

It’s amazing how sometimes the most simple activities can be so fun! This was a wonderful opportunity for imaginative play. I think we’ll leave the tape down for a few days and make a number line and do some “walk the line” activities.

Children's Literature, Parenting, Toddler Activities

What We’re Reading: edition 1

During my time as a classroom teacher I loved having a print-rich classroom with books across reading levels. I built up a decently sized library during my eight years in elementary education. Of course, I kept most of them to share with the girls and, since I have no self control when it comes to buying new books, the ending result is a home full of books.

The library in my former third grade classroom
Baby room bookshelf with part of our board book collection

As a former teacher I know how important reading is and so my husband and I have really focused on making reading and books a big part of our girls’ lives. There are books in many places around our home (girls’ rooms, playroom, living room) and all are easily accessible. We make weekly visits to the library, spend some time reading each day, and having family story-time at bedtime each night. We also subscribe to a monthly book box – I’ll share our experience with Bookaroo in another post! Now, we have a toddler who loves to look through books and “read” them to anyone who will listen (poodle included!)

I try to make our books seem even more exciting and novel by rotating our seasonal books and holiday books out during the year. I just pulled our Autumn/Halloween books out at the beginning of October and we’ve been revisiting some of our favorites since.

This week we’ve been reading all about Autumn; leaves falling and the changing weather. Fall is Here! covers some common seasonal activities and has fun, bright images. Autumn is a new one for us this year – it doesn’t have any words so its been fun to let Miss 3 use her imagination to tell me a story using the book. Leaves is a really sweet story about a bear and the things we can observe in nature during changing of the seasons.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! What are some of your Autumn favorites?

Toddler Activities

Invitation to Play: Candy Corn

We have been all about play dough and small parts play at our house lately. I thought we would use some candy corn pieces as “kernels” to make ears of corn. I made a sample for Miss 3 and talked about creating the parts of the ear of corn (cob, kernels, husk), but then she was free to use her imagination to make whatever she wanted!

We used a couple tools from our play dough kit to make lines and add some texture. I also offered some pom poms and felt balls for some added choice and tactile play.

It was a hit! I think we’ll be using this set up in our tray all week!

Invitation to play tray

Miss 3 was all about it! This kept her occupied for a good chunk of our morning.

I’m think later this week, I’ll switch out the pom poms for some green paper grass to add a new texture. What else would you put in this invitation to play?

Toddler Activities

Pumpkin Hunt

One of the skills I’ve been practicing with my toddler is her scissor technique. We’ve practiced with scissors and also this cool scissor/scoop combo tool. I’m not sure what to call it (scooper?), but it’s definitely fun to use!

This week I set up a “pumpkin patch” in our play tray. I just put a piece of green construction paper down to add a little background. Then, I filled the tray with some pipe cleaner vines and pom pom pumpkins.

Miss 3 got to use the scissor/scoop to pick the pumpkins from the patch and sort them into cups by size. I think next time, I’ll use bowls that are a little more shallow and wide to make it easier to see what is inside each one.

This activity was definitely a fine motor challenge, but she picked all the pumpkins with the tool! We’ve used this little guy for every sensory bin activity you can imagine. It’s big enough to pick up a cotton ball, but it closes securely enough to hold small beans.

What tools do you use for sensory play? I’ll be sharing our favorites next week!