Guess by Touch – Sensory and Discovery Game

Boy kids feel grow FAST! We have just bought our grommies some new shoes from the Outlets not too long ago. I was about to toss the little shoe boxes out when I thought of a fun sensory game for our gnomes.

First I outlined a circle on the box where I’m going to cut holes for little hands to fit into. I made them a bit big for my tots and you will catch them peeking! Haha 😉

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Then use a craft blade to cut the circles out. Use a sawing motion to cut it out more easily. The two shoe boxes we have are the kinds with flip lids. I made sure the holes were made on the side away from the opening that way I can place items into the box without the kids seeing what it was. The lid blocks their view. Although, my children tried very hard, stretching their necks to see around the lids!!

If you use a convention two-piece shoe box where the lid comes completely off like a gift box, just put the hole anywhere where there is no cardboard overlap or it’d be hard to cut through so many layers! Top of the lid would work too but you’ll just have to make sure the kids aren’t peeking when you place your object in the box!

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I bought this from Michael’s.

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Then I sanded the hole’s ridges a bit so the little ones don’t get a papercut. You can even table around the jagged edges with duct tape or masking tape.

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Then I arranged two trays. One set is for them to SEE the objects and one set for them to guess by touch. They feel the item and guess which item in the control tray they are feeling.

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Here we go!

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It’s furry! It’s a pom pom!

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Oops!

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Dinosaur!

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Then I gave them some wooden shapes and letters from Melissa and Doug to guess

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OH it’s coooold mama! ICE!

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You can easily mix things up and have different themes. You can have a nature theme with leaves, rocks, sand, dirt, feathers, sea shells, pine cones, etc. Or  you can  have a kitchen food theme with uncooked pasta, uncooked rice, flour, salt, fruits and veggies.

It’s always great to learn while you play! This activity is a fantastic way for little ones to learn to discover, observe, categorize, and sort using their sense of touch. It was amazing to see and hear my near 4yo’s deductive reasoning and logic to work out what he was holding and feeling.

Hope you guys have as much fun as my little ones did! Be warned….kids younger than 4 are extremely tempted to peek but our 2yo had too much fun anyway!

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Alphabet Activities and Games + Name and Word Recognition Games

1. Reading Game – I Spy the color/letter….

I’ve learned that kids love interactive shows like Dora, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates….the list goes on! They also LOVE a good game of “I Spy.” Why not incorporate that into reading?

Tools:

  • Book
  • Colorful Alphabet letters (We use Melissa and Doug‘s See and Spell letters)
  • Colorful plastic shot glasses (For more color recognition and a bit of extra fun!)
  • Magnifying glass (We bought these from ToysRUs but you can find these at Amazon as well)

We didn’t have a purple shot glass to match J’s purple letter “o” so we used this opportunity to learn a bit of basic color theory.

Red + Blue = PURPLE!

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Here J is matching the colorful glasses with each of the colored letters.

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What’s this? We’ve already spotted a letter from our name! “S”!

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J having a closer look at the text to spot any other letters from his name.

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Here he is matching the blue sky in the illustrations with his blue “j” and blue plastic glass.

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear was the perfect book to do this activity!

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2. Alphabet Rock SMASH

This is revisiting an old post. These are easy and fun for the kids to make and it’s even more fun when they smash them! WARNING: This is a messy activity!!

Here is the link to the post.

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Josh wanted to spell “rocket”

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3. I Spy

I walk the kids to our local shops every week to get some miscellaneous grocery items. Sometimes it can become a bit of a struggle as they tend to get restless and don’t want to sit quietly in their prams as I get our shopping done. So I thought I’d give them a little (educational) task!

I wrote two letters down in upper and lower cases and asked the kids to spot anything that would start with “A” and “B”. Yes, they’re too young to know, but I’d point them out to them and reinforce their letter recognition and word association by showing them the letter and the item we spot.

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Let me just say there are A LOT more “Bs” in this world than “As”! No pun intended!

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4. I Spy – Part II (Name Recognition)

Again, I used index cards and spelled out the kids’ names. Initially, I had the idea of them tallying the letters as we go. Every time we see something that starts with the letter “J” we’d make a tally with the crayon. Then I thought maybe using stickers may be more age appropriate and more fun for my kids. Plus, I had heaps of St Patrick’s Day stickers leftover!

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Josh is doing well spotting the letter “J” in “juice”!

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5. Name Recognition – Homemade Sand Excavation

I got my pre-made homemade sand (see previous post via link for recipe) out and split it into two trays. I hid two sets of the kids’ names (Melissa and Doug wooden letters) and kept one set out so they can visually spell out their names and to match the letters they find.

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Some sifting tools for their excavation!

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Warning! Sand flying! Be prepared for some mess especially with littlies! And don’t worry. Just sweep or vacuum later! You can always top up your sand later with more materials.

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Found our last letter!

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Homemade Dinosaur Bones – fun activity for little paleontologists

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I wanted to do more dinosaur related activities with the kids and I was inspired by this page out of J’s book to make some dinosaur bones

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I decided to make the bones out of modeling clay.

You can make these bones out of salt dough which is:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water

You will have to bake it for 3 hours at 325 degrees F.

Since I’d rather save on gas / electricity, I opted for air dry modeling clay instead 🙂

I let the bones dry for at least 48 hours so they are rock hard. As you can guess, the skull took a bit longer as it was pretty thick (thick skull ha ha ha) 🙂

I made some rib bones, spine  segments, a hip bone, and humerus or femur bones…

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Once they dry, I decided to add this to my homemade sand to do a little excavation and sensory play!

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I also added some colorful beans to add to the texture. The kids loved seeing the extra colors in the sand.

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Every discovered bone was met with excitement and wonder.

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Then we asked our miniature dinosaur friends to join the fun!

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Mr giraffe decided to join in as well

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Then we buried some gold coins like pirates…

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Homemade Sand – natural ingredients and safe for tots!

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I found a great recipe for homemade sand on How Stuff Works

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups dried used coffee grounds (sun or oven dried)
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour (I used wheat for darker color)
  • 1/2 cup salt

I found it quite difficult to drink that much coffee at such a short amount of time so for my batch, I had less coffee. Maybe about 2 cups. Since this is reusable sand (if you don’t get it dirty or wet), I figure I can always add more dried coffee later on. I just couldn’t wait 🙂

Make sure the used coffee grinds are completely dry before you add it into your mix. It may get moldy and/or clump up with the rest of the sand mix.

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I’ve added some colorful beans to add to the texture for the kids to play with.

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Simply store it in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap for later usage!

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Indoors Play – stuck at home waiting for my new Dyson!

It’s been a rough few days for me. It’s not because the kids were acting up more than usual or I lacked more sleep than usual. It just seemed with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, became a recipe for “bad days.” To top things off, it hasn’t been warm or sunny enough to take the kids out. Not that I could anyway because I’ve been patiently waiting for the delivery of my very first Dyson vacuum. Yes, it’s a bit sad…but I’ve been really excited about my new vacuum! I’m not exactly fond of the act of vacuuming, but I’m not big on picking up crud off the floor by hand either.

So here are a few activities I’ve drummed up with the kids for the days of waiting:

Day 1: vacuum due to arrive but somehow UPS decided I was not available 2 feet away from the door watching telly while my kids were napping.

  • Played with our tent AKA rocket ship AKA bed

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  • Coffee Filter Art – coloring the filters with color pens and seeing what happens when you drip water on it with an eye dropper. I’m going to use these beautifully colored filters to make something else! Keep your eyes peeled!

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  • Crayon Rubbing – using leaves and dinosaur stencils

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  • Homemade Light Box – okay we actually did this on the night before Valentine’s Day but this would be a great relaxing activity right before the kids’ nap or bed time.

You can find many instructions on how to make your own. There are a few different versions out there. However, with limited supplies, I simply emptied out one of the kids’ clear plastic toy bin, flipped it over (Our lid is a solid white. If you have a clear lid, you can use that as the table top) and placed two small LED lights underneath. We used battery operated ones from Target about $5 for two. Since we were going with the Valentine’s theme, we looked for mostly red items to look at like plastic shot glasses, J’s dinosaur tracing, plastic cocktail stirrers, and hearts I had cut out using tissue and construction paper. Look how pretty it all turned out!

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Day 2: Where is my vacuum?! Online tracking said attempt was made around 3pm but receiver was not available (I was sitting a couple feet from the door watching TV while the kids napped). FAIL!

So another day of waiting around…

  • Colored Noodle and Jelly Sensory Play!

I boiled and colored some noodles with food coloring and added to a big bowl of jelly for the kids to play with this morning. Being that we are in a unit and don’t have a backyard (plus it’s a bit chilly this morning), I set it up in our kitchen. It’s genius really. It contains the mess in a waterproof area and the kitchen sink AND bin are within an arm’s reach! Oh, I also lined a plastic lid (or plate) with aluminum foil. At the end of their activity, I just rolled up the foil and all the perishables went into the bin. Easy.

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Still no UPS…

  • Legos Race Track

Ok, we only have a small collection of Mega Blocks so I only created a “Finish Line” that had a RED, BLUE, and GREEN finish. The kids had a blast shooting their cars down the lane towards the finish line. We guessed which color the cars would end up and we tried to aim our cards towards a color of our choosing.

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Hurrah! Mummy’s Dyson’s HERE!!

Fun with Colors – Apple Scented Soft Play Dough and Alphabet Rocks (baked cotton balls)

Apple Scented Soft Play Dough – using conditioner and corn starch (flour) 

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The kids are just DYING to have fun getting messy again! Today we made some super SOFT apple-scented play dough.

Recipe I used:

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 1 cup apple-scented conditioner (I bought it for 99 cents at Safeway)
  • food coloring

First I mixed the starch and conditioner. To be honest, I eye-balled it and added a little bit of conditioner at a time till it is the right consistency. Most other mummies will tell you do use 1 part conditioner with 2 parts corn starch. It was already smelling AMAZING! Like apple flavored gum! The kids couldn’t wait! I had to shoo them off several times before it was ready!

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Doesn’t that look fun?! I handed them some of their figurines and play utensils and then let them go crazy!

Looks like our caribou friend has survived the arctic freeze…He now treks amongst the soft apple scented play doughy terrain with its fellow survivors…

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Who wants a play dough pizza???

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Alphabet Rocks – baked cotton balls

I happened upon this wonderful activity from Stir the Wonder. They made ABC Moon Rocks! Fun fun fun!!! So I thought we’d try a version of their fun activity.

My recipe:

  • 1/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • food coloring

I used paint container liners and poured the ingredients into each container for mixing.

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Once I had all the colors mixed up, I called the kids over to try making their own colorful alphabet rocks!

First I demonstrated so they knew what to do.

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Little Gnomes turn!

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Who’s ready for some fun mess??

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Each cotton balls were placed on a pre-greased pan (or your can line it with baking paper).

Once completed, place the tray of cotton balls into the over at 300 F (150 C) for an hour. I only had it in for 45 minutes and they were ready. It really depends on your oven especially if you have a fan-forced fan. That would change things a bit and probably would need less time in the oven.

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Let them cool and harden: I waited an hour so I took the kids to the park to burn off some of that extra energy!

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Then I used a black permanent marker and wrote the alphabet on them!

The kids love playing with them as is but you can do rock smashing too if you’d like! Just use a plastic play hammer and let your kiddo go wild!

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Arctic YELLOW (ew) Ice Expedition – frozen lemon jelly archaeological dig

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J has always loved dinosaur egg excavation. Being it’s been such a warm and sunny winter, I found a few fun ice excavation ideas from Pinterest.  Some use just ice. Some froze jelly. What a great idea I saw from Fun at Home with Kids. I thought I’d try both! First, I froze some water about an inch thick. Then I made some jello out of a store-bought package and poured it on top and then placed little animal figurines on top of the ice. OOPS! The ice came loose and floated to the top. That’s ok, I just reversed it! It worked out better in the end because the figurines sunk into the jelly section and the frozen jelly would be easier to dig into than a solid block of ice!

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Once I was done, I placed the tray into the freezer. Now you wait! I had it sit overnight to be safe.

Why YELLOW jello (ice) you ask? My son chose it so how can I refuse?! 🙂

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We tried sprinkling (pouring by N ;)) salt and water onto our frozen jello to help melt the ice. Then we start DIGGING!!

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The caribou is almost free

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N decided to feed some to her friend Elsa

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J came in to warm up by the fire! Brrrr

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