Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

What is it about jingle bells that we love so much? No matter what activity we use with them, it is a hit. It’s hard for me to say which activity they’ve loved most, because making and using our jingle bell sticks was a lot of fun. And sorting jingle bells by color was popular, too. But when we put this jingle bell magnetic sensory bin in our classroom, it got immediate attention.

Since this was the week we were also exploring magnets, we added other items to the bin as well. Some were attracted to the magnets, some were not. A bit of science at the sensory table!

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

What we used:



Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

It’s always fun to see what a magnetic wand picks up. Moving it through the rice allowed some buried treasures to be found.

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

Using a variety of sizes made the bells fun to hold, too. (And then wonder why they didn’t make as much noise when the hands were wrapped around them.)

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

We also added small boxes and containers to place the small items in. Always a favorite with this age group!

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

Some ideas for the miscellaneous items:

  • Puff balls
  • Metal lids from containers
  • Metal rings
  • Juice can lids

You might notice those metal rectangular pieces. When I worked in retail years ago, they changed their signs’ frames and asked if my preschool could use them. They are truly the best magnetic pieces ever! The bottoms of each one have a magnetic strip that was used to keep the signs on the racks. Our toddlers and preschoolers create some amazing buildings with them!

 

 

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

And that’s it! Super easy, right?

 

Make sure to follow our Christmas pin board for hundreds of other fun activities!

Jingle Bell Magnetic Sensory Bin

 

Related posts:

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities      16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers     christmas playdough activities


 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Christmas Sensory Play Activities

I just love this time of year. I always have! We play Christmas music softly in the classroom while we enjoy various activities. There is such a wide variety of Christmas sensory play activities for toddlers and preschoolers! While my co-teacher and I were planning our December curriculum, I was thinking about how we could add some sensory in more areas than just the sensory bin. You caught a glimpse of this when I shared my collection of 5 senses activities. So, I went to my Pinterest page. (Yeah, I’m just a little bit addicted. Okay, a lot.) I thought I would share with you some fun ideas that I think all preschoolers would love this month!

 

A Collection of Christmas Sensory Play Activities

 This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

 

1. Add silver and gold watercolors instead of food coloring to make festive silver and gold play dough. (Craftulate)

2. Involve your sense of touch and hearing by painting with jingle bells.

3. Experience different textures while creating paper mache Christmas ornaments for the tree. (Buggy and Buddy)

4. Use painters tape to make a sticky sensory tree. (How Wee Learn)

5. Dye rice red and green and add some peppermint extract to make a fun Christmas sensory bin. (Stir the Wonder)

Sensory Play Activities Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds 1

 

6. The hands will love the feeling of  Santa slime! (Growing a Jeweled Rose)

8. The room will smell so yummy when you make a batch of gingerbread play dough.

9. Strengthen fine motor skills with this peppermint writing activity. (Kids Play Box)

10. The room will sound like Christmas after making jingle bell noise makers. (Meri Cherry)

11. Involve the nose by making Christmas sensory cards. (A Little Learning for Two)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

12. If you have bubble wrap available, make some sensory trees. (Mummy Musings and Mayhem)

13. Gold food coloring and glitter make a sensory delight for the hands and eyes. (The Imagination Tree)

14. Learn with Play at Home has a shivery snow sensory bin that truly is cold!

15. Read the book “The Sweet Snow of Christmas” and fill a tray of items that smell like Christmas. (Teach Preschool)

16.  Delight your sense of touch by making a foam geoboard tree. (Fun-a-Day)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

17. Create a Christmas sensory book for younger children. (Baby Centre)

18. Add some science to your sensory play with a melting Christmas tree baking soda activity. (Little Bins for Little Hands)

19. Make some Santa binoculars so you can enjoy the sights of Christmas! (Meri Cherry)

20. Put together jingle boxes for some fun Christmas listening games. (Nurturestore)

21. Explore peppermint scented paint with your fingers. (Growing Hands-On Kids)

 

Christmas Sensory Play Activities

Ready for some more Christmas Play ideas?

Simple Fine Motor Snowflakes

Felt Button Tree Ornaments

Over 700 Christmas Ideas for Little Kids!

Christmas Sensory Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


 

I’m so excited to be selling  these darling kindness elves!


 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play Activity

Every year we kick off Christmas with a gingerbread theme. We have several different versions of the gingerbread man that we read each day. We make gingerbread cookies and gingerbread ornaments. This year I tried something new that our preschoolers have adored! This Christmas gingerbread sensory play activity involves filling, pouring, and counting. I scented the dyed rice for an extra sensory delight, since we were also exploring our five senses.

If you are looking for a fun sensory bin for your preschool gingerbread unit, you must try this!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play Activity

I will admit, I was having fun on Amazon when I noticed these paper mache gingerbread men boxes with lids.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

I fell in love immediately. Our preschoolers love any containers with lids. But gingerbread men? I had never seen these before. I got all giddy, just like when I found the pumpkin jingle bells. Fellow teachers, please tell me I’m not alone here! And so then I knew we needed little gingerbread men bendables to put inside the gingerbread containers. And we already had a gingerbread house.

My mind was spinning, I tell you! When my purchases arrived over Thanksgiving break, I was in the kitchen dying rice red and green. While the turkey was defrosting and I needed to get the table cleared and set for guests. Just being real here!

But, I did have some restraint. I did NOT go into my classroom during the break. I actually waited until that Monday morning before the preschoolers arrived.

 

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

I got everything set up before the classroom door opened. We read our first gingerbread book before opening centers time.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

When it was centers time, this Christmas gingerbread sensory play activity was an immediate hit. First they wanted to fill the gingerbread house with rice.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

And then they started playing with the little gingerbread figures.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

They decided to see if they could fit all 12 in one of the gingerbread man boxes. They counted them as they placed them inside.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

They couldn’t all fit inside, so then they placed one gingerbread boy figure inside each cardboard gingerbread boy box. 1:1 correspondence!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Then I noticed the preschoolers lining them up along the edge of the sensory bin. More counting and figuring out that they all weren’t completely the same.

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

 

You can see a video of our preschoolers actually playing with this on Instagram.

We will expand on this activity with some gingerbread man cookie baking tomorrow!

Christmas Gingerbread Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Related posts:

12 Christmas Dramatic Play Activities      16 Christmas Science Activities for Preschoolers     christmas playdough activities


 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Teaching Preschoolers Shapes Using the Sensory Bin

One of my favorite ways to teach shapes is through hands-on exploration. In fact, teaching preschoolers shapes using the sensory bin is one of my preferences. Our toddlers are exposed to shapes through sensory play, too!

I’ve shared how we’ve taught shape recognition with magnets during small groups.

And we’ve also played shape sorting games during circle time.

We’ve even added shape activities to our art table, such as when we made our own bubble wrap circle stamps.

So of course I had to add shapes to our sensory bin! And this particular activity was so easy to put together and both our toddlers and our preschoolers loved it.

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Teaching Preschoolers Shapes Using the Sensory Bin

 

We started off this shape activity by reading some of our favorite shape books:

 


Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We then took a walk around our building, going on a shape hunt. This is a favorite and it’s amazing how many shapes the children will find along the way!

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

You can use anything small for the filler. We happened to have some yellow shredded paper on our sensory bin shelf, so I used that. Rice and dried beans would work, too.

 

I also added some tweezers for extra fine motor fun.

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I cut out shapes from craft foam and added some containers and heart-shaped scoops.

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

The children loved scooping up as much as they could, pouring it all into the containers.

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This shape bin also helped us with our beginning-of-the-year assessments. I would ask them to put the green squares into the bucket. Or the yellow triangles. Or whatever shape and color I could find in the bin.

Simple and fun, right? While also strengthening shape and color skills!

Shape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

 

More sensory bin ideas:

preschool alphabet sensory play      Ocean Theme Sensory Bin      summer sensory binShape Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Are you following my toddler and preschool pin board yet? There are thousands of ideas to check out!

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Summer Sensory Bin

Ah, summer. During our last couple of weeks of school, we all have summer on our mind. After all, we are having fun with our ocean theme, complete with a beach day. This year we actually had summer weather, too! Bonus! So, when I put together our summer sensory bin, I wanted bright, happy, sparkly fun.

They loved it.

Because it contained shiny stuff. Oh, how our preschoolers love anything shiny!

And it included containers with lids. Remember our St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin? Yep, same love. They filled those containers to the top and snapped on the lid. Then, opened the lid and dumped everything out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

 

summer sensory bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Summer Sensory Bin

What we used:

  • Dyed rice – you can see how we do this here: sunflower sensory bin
  • Small sparkly objects
  • Small containers with lids

Oh, and make sure to read some fun beach books!


summer sensory bin

Yep! Filling those containers to the top!

If you look back to my sensory bin activities, you will see that many include some sort of container. Toddlers (especially) and preschoolers love to fill containers. If it has a lid, that’s a bonus!

summer sensory bin

I also think about textures.

Who can resist taking big scoops and slowly sifting it through your fingers?

summer sensory bin

And dump. But of course! This might be the most favorite part. If you have a child who likes to dump anything, being able to redirect him to an activity like this works wonders.

summer sensory bin

And that’s it! It really is that simple!

 

summer sensory bin

More ideas to try:

Bubble fun for kids! Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds      water activities for preschoolers - teaching 2 and 3 year olds     Gardening Ideas for Kids - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

And look at these beach activities!

Create an ocean themed sensory writing tray as a fun way to learn how to write letters and sounds, children’s own names and even sight words too!

Set up a simple ocean sensory activity that is science too!

Explore and learn about the ocean habitat with play dough.

You can find even more on my beach/ocean pin board.

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

You know those sensory bins that are so easy to put together, and end up being a favorite? That’s what this ocean theme sensory bin was all about.

Fishing nets. If you have not tried these with your children, go and do. Really! We picked up a few nets at the pet store along with plastic sea animals. What our preschoolers loved most was seeing just how much they could fit in their nets. They’d compare, empty, and fill again.

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

 

What we used:

Small fish nets

Small plastic sea animals

Small shells

Aquarium rock

 


Starting at the science table:

 

We introduced shells at our science table the same week we had this ocean themed sensory bin available. There were shells and magnifying glasses, photos, and discovery bottles.

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

Our sensory bin is always available during centers time. It’s free choice, meaning they can come and go as they desire.

 

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

We don’t place limits on how many can be at the sensory bin. The preschoolers seem to know when it’s getting too crowded, so they move on to something else. If there are quite a few children around the bin, they learn how to work together.

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, water table activities are always popular with our toddlers and preschoolers. I honestly think we could have a water table in the classroom every day and they’d never tire of it. (This is why we offer a water table outdoors every day!)

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

When putting together sensory bins, we make sure we have at least 4 of the tools available. (In this case, “tools” being fish nets. Other examples are tweezers, cups, spoons, bug tongs, etc.)

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

I also like to add different textures whenever I can for that sensory experience. I noticed the preschoolers loved holding the shells and small gravel in their hands, and also scooping it in the nets.

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

If you don’t have an actual sensory table, you can use any type of container that can allow for water play.

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

Ocean Theme Sensory Bin

More sensory bin ideas to try:

Frog Pond Sensory Play - Learning About Frogs      Spring Color Sorting Sensory Bin     Sensory Activities for Spring

 

Color Sorting Water Bin      water table activities for preschoolers     toddler sensory table

 

Learn with Play post footer

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Color Sorting Water Bin

Our toddlers and preschoolers love the water table. Well, they love everything that involves water! So, it’s only natural that I take what they love and use it to teach concepts. This color sorting water bin is full of water fun, with some learning taking place, too!

And this is a pretty cheap activity to put together! (We teachers like that. I know parents do, too!)

Just like our fine motor water squeezing activity, I added tools to strengthen the hands and fingers. And, just like our rubber duck sensory play tub, there’s lots of pouring going on.

Make sure to scroll down to find other fun water table activities, too!

Color Sorting Water Bin

This post contains affiliate links for our convenience.

Color Sorting Water Bin

 

What you will need:

  • Plastic reusable ice cubes in different colors*
  • Plastic cups in colors that match the cubes*
  • Bug tongs
  • Some sort of container to hold the water

(*I found our ice cubes and cups at our local dollar store. Score!)

Color Sorting Water Bin

Fill the bin with water (we keep ours shallow because it’s in the classroom).

Add materials. (I added a couple of funnels for extra fun. The toy colander just sort of “landed” in there. Funny how that happens!)

Color Sorting Water Bin

Toddlers will use both hands to open and close the bug tongs. It takes great concentration to transfer the cubes to the cups!

Color Sorting Water Bin

Preschoolers learn how to operate them with one hand. This mimics scissors!

Color Sorting Water Bin

Let the color sorting begin!

Color Sorting Water Bin

When all of the colors were sorted, our preschoolers tossed them all into our big funnel.

For those of you at home, try this activity in the bath tub and let me know how it goes!

Color Sorting Water Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

Color Sorting Water Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds


 

Color Sorting Water Bin for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

More water table activities:

water+play+header.png

More fun ideas to try:

Toddler Alphabet Ideas      Learning Shapes in Preschool      Fun play date activities for preschoolers

 

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




10 Rubber Ducks Sensory Play

Rubber ducks in a bubble bath? In the sensory bin? Oh yes, that’s exactly what our toddlers and preschoolers enjoyed with our 10 rubber ducks sensory play.

Sounds perfect for spring, right?

But this water activity also connected to one of our favorite books, 10 Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle. While listening to the story, we see how rubber ducks are made in a factory and loaded onto a freighter. Stormy weather causes 10 of the rubber ducks to fall overboard. The ducks separate and we follow one duck’s journey to find his mother. And so, when we put together our water activity, we made sure we had 10 rubber ducks, pretending they were separating in the sea. “Ducks overboard!”

We aren’t the only ones who’ve had fun with this book. Scroll down to see what others have done!

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

10 Rubber Ducks Sensory Play

 

What you will need for this activity:

Introducing this water activity:

During our morning meeting, we read 10 Little Rubber Ducks. We counted the ducks, we talked about how it would feel to be in the water, lost. Truly, this book connects to many concepts!

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

We then invited the children to enjoy playing with the ducks in our sensory table.

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

As with our lavender salt activity, there are so many soothing ideas for the sensory table. Warm water is always popular with our toddlers and preschoolers. They are drawn to its soft touch, to the gentle sounds of water pouring.

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

 

And if you know me from my other posts, I just love to add materials that get those hands ready for writing! Wringing water from sponges is an excellent way to do just that. You can see in the photos how hard the hands are working.

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

Because we had just read the book, I could hear some of the children reciting the book, moving the water like the ocean.

 

Water Activity for Kids

Water Activity for Kids

 

 

And then, the ducks were safely collected, pulled from the water, and dried.

 

Water Activity for Kids

 

10 Little Ducks Eric Carle

 

 

 

Ways you can expand this activity:

At the art table we had duck-shaped yellow paper, orange-tinted glue, and feathers. One year we placed the ducks in the block area and the children built a boat from blocks.

 

More ideas for “10 Little Rubber Ducks”:


More fun ideas for preschoolers:

Easy Kids Art with Freezer Bags      water table activities for preschoolers      Letter Beads Discovery Bottles

 

10 Little Ducks Eric Carle

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Spring Sensory Activities for Preschoolers

For those of us who have endured a rather colorless winter, we are so excited to explore color in the spring! This is a great time of year to explore using our senses with all the different textures available. If you are looking for some new spring sensory activities, you’ve come to the right place. This collection is amazing!

 

I always keep in mind what preschoolers love most about our sensory bins:

 

  • Scoop
  • Pour
  • Transfer

I’d love to know what your preschoolers’ favorite sensory bins are. What can I add to this collection?

 

 Sensory Activities for Spring

 

 This post contains affiliate links.

 

Spring Sensory Activities

 

Rubber Duck Sensory Table

 

Water Activity for Kids

Head on over to this post to see how we put this spring water activity together!

 

Color-Matching Sensory Table

 

Sensory Activities for Spring

 

 Head on over to this page to see how it’s put together!

 

 

Bunny Sensory Bin

 

Sensory Activities for Spring

 

 Materials used:

 

  • Pastel-colored bunnies

  • Small containers that are the same colors as the bunnies

  • Easter grass

 

Bugs Sensory Table

Sensory Activities for Spring

 

Materials used:

 

  • Birdseed

  • Gardening tools

  • Magnifying glasses

  • Bug catchers

  • Plastic bugs

 

 Gardening Sensory Table

Sensory Activities for Spring

Materials used:

 

  • Fake flowers

  • Bug catchers

  • Plant containers

  • Dried lentils

 

 Catching Bugs Sensory Table

 

Sensory Activities for Spring

 

Materials used:

  • Dried black beans

  • Buttons

  • Bugs

  • Tweezers

  • Containers

  • Bug net

 

 Frog Sensory Table

Sensory Activities for Spring

 

 Materials used:

 

  • Plastic frogs

  • Rocks

  • Lily pads cut from foam sheets

  •  Water
  • Tweezers

 

 More spring sensory ideas:

 

preschool spring sensory bins

Play Dough and Chicks (Learn with Play at Home)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sensory Bin (Rubberboots and Elf Shoes)

Birds’ Nest Sensory Play (Craftulate)

 

preschool spring sensory bins

 

Rainbow Rice Hunt (Modern Preschool)

Peas and Carrots Sensory Play (B-Inspired Mama)

Fine Motor Easter Egg Hunt Bin (In the Playroom)

 

preschool spring sensory bins

 

Flower Sensory Bin (Buggy and Buddy)

Spring Sensory Bin (Learning and Exploring Through Play)

Insect Sensory Bin (Stir the Wonder)

preschool spring sensory bins

 You might also like:

Easter Art for ToddlersEaster Arttoddler rainbow activities

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 




St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

Have you noticed how young children love to open items, pour other items into them, close them, then open and dump out the contents? Over and over again? This was our thought when we put together our treasure chest St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin.

We’ve found that since pouring and dumping are inevitable with this age group, it’s important to give them a place where that is okay. If they start dumping out the contents of what seems like every bin in the house or classroom, you can have a place to direct them.

A place where pouring and dumping is okay.

I’ve shared similar activities such as our spring pom pom bin. Oh, and our foam ABC bin.

Create activities that allow them to explore.

St Patrick's Day Sensory Bin - Fun with Gold Coins and Treasure Chests - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

 

What we used:

 

  • Dried split peas
  • Treasure chests
  • Gold coins
  • Shamrock confetti



St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

In all the years that I have taught preschool, our young children have loved coins. They enjoy seeing how many can fit in their hands and into anything else. They love them so much, in fact, that many seem to disappear. Some of the children will confess and pull a handful out of their pockets, some will not and the coins go home.

 

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

There is something about those little treasure boxes with the hinged closure. We chose small boxes that can fit nicely in one hand so that the other hand can fill them.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

I cannot tell you how many times a preschooler proudly called me over to the sensory bin.

“See how many coins I have?”

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the gems we also added. These were leftover from another activity. The preschoolers were drawn to how shiny they were. They were a nice touch with the gold coins.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

So there you have it. A St. Patrick’s sensory bin that encourages pouring and dumping.

And is simply fun.

If you are looking for more St. Patrick’s Day ideas, head on over to my pin board!

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

St Patrick's Day Sensory Bin - Fun with Gold Coins and Treasure Chests - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

Wait, there’s more! Check out these fun ideas for young children:

STEM Playdough Building Challenge for Preschooolers - Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds       Looking for a fun way to strengthen toddler fine motor skills? Here's a fun water activity using basters!      17 Action Songs - Gets Toddlers and Preschoolers Moving! Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds

 

Are you getting my weekly newsletters? They are delivered right to your e-mail!

Sign up here.

 

 

profile+footer.png




Preschool Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

I love that even after teaching for so many years, I can continue to find ideas we’ve never tried before! I put together a preschool valentines sensory bin with frozen hearts that is easy peasy simple! I froze water in various heart-shaped containers, added some pony beads and red coloring in some, and tossed it all into a sensory bin.

This year we seem to be on a roll with Valentines ice activities. I’ve recently shared how we painted on heart-shaped ice, sprinkling powder paint on top. We also had fun painting with frozen hearts! Now we are adding this frozen hearts sensory bin to the collection.

Scroll down to see other fun Valentines activities!

Preschool Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Preschool Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

Here’s what we used:


Preparing the activity:

Pour water in the trays and freeze. We added red liquid watercolor to our small hearts and the pony beads to the large hearts. (This is optional – if you have younger children who still put things in their mouths, omit the beads.)

 

Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

Right before the preschoolers arrived, we placed the pans of frozen hearts into our sensory tub.  By the time they were ready to play with it, the ice had melted somewhat, creating a nice mixture of ice and water.

They used the tips of their thumbs and fingers to pry the heart beads from the ice, and also the small frozen hearts from their trays.

Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

It took great concentration to pop the hearts out!

Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

Once the ice popped out of the larger heart tray, the preschoolers filled it with the small hearts. Then, they put them back into the small ice cube tray. (The teacher in me loved the 1:1 correspondence going on, of course!)

Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

Like I said, easy peasy fun! And clean up is a breeze because everything gets rinsed in the sink.

 

Here are other fun Valentines activities to try:

Foil Valentines Hearts      Valentines Art      Easy Kids Valentines Craft

 

And make sure to pop over to our Valentine’s Day pin board!

 

Preschool Valentines Sensory Bin with Frozen Hearts

 


 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Toddler Fine Motor Water Activity

Long before children can start writing, they need to first develop their pre-writing skills. This means strengthening those muscles that will help them have the ability to hold a writing tool. One of my favorites is this toddler fine motor water activity. We introduce basters in our toddler class because the bulb fits nicely in their hands. We demonstrate how to squeeze and release the bulb, moving the water in and out of the baster. This takes great concentration but is such a great (and fun!) way to build those fine motor skills.

Looking for a fun way to strengthen toddler fine motor skills? Here's a fun water activity using basters!

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Toddler Fine Motor Water Activity

Looking for a fun way to strengthen toddler fine motor skills? Here's a fun water activity using basters!

 

What we used:

Mini basters (we also used the small squeeze toy from this fine motor set)

Pouring utensils

Water in some sort of bin (we tinted our water with some blue watercolors so it was more visible)

 


Introducing this activity:

 

Let them explore the water with the pouring utensils.

 

Fine Motor Activity Using Basters

 

Fine Motor Activity Using Basters

After modeling how to squeeze the bulb to suck in the water and then release the water, let them give it a try.

Fine Motor Activity Using Basters

Once they get the hang of it, they want to do it over and over again. Another plus to this activity is that it is very soothing, like all of our water table activities. If you are a parent with a toddler, you can easily set this activity up in the bathtub.

Fine Motor Activity Using Basters

 

Fine Motor Activity Using Basters

While these types of activities are building strength for future writing, toddlers are simply having fun exploring how water moves using basters.

Looking for a fun way to strengthen toddler fine motor skills? Here's a fun water activity using basters!

 

You will find even more ideas on my fine motor pinboard!

Looking for a fun way to strengthen toddler fine motor skills? Here's a fun water activity using basters!

Learn with Play post footer

More fun fine motor activities:

Preschool Fine Motor Activity Transferring Water     fine motor art in preschool    17 Squeezing Activities for Strengthening Hands

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Zoo Small World Play

Going to the zoo is a favorite topic with our preschoolers. They visit the zoo with their families (many have zoo passes) and love to name off the animals they saw. I decided to start our school year with some zoo animal activities. I knew this would be very meaningful, getting the preschoolers excited to be involved in one of our very first group activities. After reading Zoo-Looking during circle time, we held the plastic toy versions of each animal and played a matching game. When finished, our preschoolers enjoyed some zoo small world play.

I love connecting ideas to our favorite picture books. These activities build language skills, encouraging the preschoolers to collaborate and share ideas, building their social confidence.

 

Zoo Small World Play

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

What we used for this activity:

 

  • A copy of the book Zoo-Looking, by Mem Fox
  • Plastic animals that matched those in the book (we found most of ours here and here)
  • A bin for small world play
  • Materials of your choice to add to the bin, along with the animals

 

Zoo group activity:

I had our preschoolers gather on our group time rug while I read the story about Flora and her dad, who went to the zoo. We identified each animal as we turned the pages.

 

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds.

I then handed each child one of the animals.

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds ....

As I flipped through the book again, the children matched their animals to the animals on the pages.

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds..

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds...

Zoo small world play:

Once we identified each of the animals that Flora and her dad saw, we set up our own small world zoo. I chose dried split peas for the filler. We then added some rocks, trees, and fences.

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds .....

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds ......

The preschoolers flipped through the book again, pointing to the play animals as they turned the pages.

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds .-

We usually leave activities like this out for at least a week after they are introduced. This allows the preschoolers to revisit the book and the animals, enjoying pretend play and connecting it to their real life zoo experiences.

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds .......

 

Here are some more books to go with a zoo theme:

 

               

 

zoo small world play - teaching 2 and 3 year olds -

More literacy fun for young children:

literacy games for preschoolers     literacy activities for preschoolers     preschool literacy

 

 

This post is part of the A-Z Pretend Play group. This one is Z for Zoo Small World Play. Be sure to check out all the other letters here: A-Z Pretend Play.

 

a-z-of-pretend-play-600

 

Are you getting my weekly newsletters? They are delivered right to your e-mail!

Sign up here.

 

 

profile+footer.png




(Our Favorite) Water Table Activities

What is it about water that can be so soothing? When we have those super energetic days – I’m sure you are familiar with them – we are so thankful for the water table! What I love about water table activities is that they can be done indoors and outdoors, all year long.

 

The water table is like the bathtub for many young children. It helps them unwind. It’s soothing. It’s easy for us to set up, and it’s fun for them!

 

Oh, and it works those fine motor skills. All that squeezing, pouring and dumping? Yes, it has a purpose.

 

So let me share some of our favorites, all done in our toddler and/or preschool classroom!

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
 

 Water Table Activities:

 

Add containers and plastic bugs (or animals).

 

Depending on the time of year or our theme, we like to add these small creatures to explore.

 

 
 
water table activities for preschoolers

 

Providing turkey basters for squirting water.

Squeezing and releasing the bulb is great for fine motor development.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

Washing Legos.

Fill the water bin with some soapy warm water, add Legos, and their little fingers do the rest.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

 

Put together a pond scene with frogs and rocks.

This is a favorite of ours in the spring during our nature unit. We made lily pads from green foam paper. Add tweezers to move the lily pads around.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

Funnels are fun.

 

We added golf balls as a lesson on what could and could not make it through the funnel hole.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

Save those leftover plastic eggs from Easter for year-round water pouring.

 

They are perfect for scooping water and fit nicely in little kids’ hands.

 

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

Boats are a good addition to the water table.

Provide other objects that can go into the boats as a lesson on float and sink.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

Add chunks of ice to water along with basters.

 

Even more fun if you place smaller objects in the ice before freezing!

 

 water table activities for preschoolers

 

Pour water through pieces of PVC pipe.

Add small balls for additional fun.

water table activities for preschoolers

Sometimes it really just as simple as warm bubbly water and cups.

Very soothing, especially for a child who needs some calming.

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

 

Add some rubber ducks to that warm water.

 

Almost like a bubble bath!

 

water table activities for preschoolers

 

More ideas for preschoolers:

preschool math     rainbow art     ice painting for kids


Are you getting my weekly newsletters? They are delivered right to your e-mail!

Sign up here.

 

 

profile+footer.png




Snowman Sensory Play

 

Our snowman sensory play bin was a big hit with our 2 and 3 year olds. My regular readers know how we love to add a variety of textures to our sensory bins, along with tools to challenge fine motor development. Just as we did in our letter sensory bin and our pom pom sensory bin, we added containers for filling and finding the matching tops. We added tongs to transfer materials. Because we have children at a variety of developmental stages, we want to make sure we can challenge each of them. Let me show you how easy it is to put together such a bin!

Snowman Sensory Play

 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

 

Materials you can use:

  • White pom poms
  • Red pom poms
  • Foam snowflakes
  • Small snowman ornaments
  • Small boxes with lids
  • Strawberry hullers

Snowman Sensory Play

 

Setting it up:

Place all of the materials in some sort of bin. While a sensory table in a stand is nice, you could a plastic bin on a low table or even on the floor.

 

Snowman Sensory Play

 Exploring:

Our younger children loved handling the pom poms. They are soft and comforting and fit nicely in the palms of hands and in containers. Those a bit older were challenged by having to find the matching tops to the boxes. We also counted the pom poms as they were dropped into the boxes.

 

Snowman Sensory Play

 

Fine motor development:

Our 3 year olds were curious about the strawberry hullers. I learned about these nifty little tools when I visited another classroom years ago. The fingers and thumbs press together while squeezing the pom poms and moving them.

 

Snowman Sensory Play

 

All of the children enjoyed playing with the snowmen, making them move around the bin, fitting into the boxes. When we were finished using this bin, we packed it up to save for next year. Simple, right?

 

Snowman Sensory Play

 

Here are some other ideas you might be interested in:

 

sensory bin ideas    action songs for preschoolers   17 Squeezing Activities for Strengthening Hands

 

 

Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds




Preschool Sensory Bin with Sunflowers

 

When exploring sunflowers in preschool, we put together a cheerful sensory bin with some lemon scent. We added black beans as a contrast to the yellow scented rice and added terra cotta pots with scoops to fill. We also read books about sunflowers, created sunflower art, and planted real sunflowers to take home and nurture. We love to explore sunflowers in the spring, when we are planting, and in the fall, when we are harvesting.

 

kids fall nature activities

 This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

What we used in our sensory bin:

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

How to dye the rice:

  • Place desired amount of rice into a gallon-size plastic storage bag.
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and a few drops of yellow food coloring (or to your desired strength). We use Wilton’s icing gels.
  • Close the bag and, with your fingers and thumbs, press around the outside of the bag, mixing the vinegar and the food coloring until all the rice has absorbed the color. Remove rice from the bag on paper towels in a single layer so that it completely dries.

How to add the lemon scent to the rice:

After the rice is dry, place it in a clean plastic storage bag or container with a lid. Squeeze a couple of drops of lemon essential oil and mix throughout the rice.  (Note: we love to use essential oils in our classroom, but we make sure that they are safe and pure for our young children, and that is why we only use these oils.)

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

Setting it up:

Place all materials into your sensory bin. This can be a purchased sensory bin, a homemade sensory bin, or a plastic bin that you set on your table or the floor.

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

Our sensory table is located near the entrance of our classroom. It’s a great way to invite the children into the room. It’s especially comforting for those who might be having a difficult time with transitioning into the classroom after saying goodbye to family.

 

kids fall nature activities

 

Pouring is always a favorite. The scoops were used a lot, but the hands were just as involved. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times one of the 2 year olds brought me a fistful of rice and beans so I could see.

 

kids fall nature activities

 

I have mentioned in other posts how 2 year olds love to pour. The farther the distance, the better. When we see them start to pour the materials onto the floor, we grab a box lid. Why say no when you can offer them an alternative? And, I admit, the sound of the rice falling a greater distance is pretty cool.

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

Not only did they pour the rice and beans into the box lid, but then they took fists of rice and released them into the box lid.

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

And then, they bent down and felt the rice and beans. Oh, the smiles on their faces!

 

kids fall nature activities

 

 

This was out all week. And loved! We will pack it up on Friday and start a fresh sensory bin on Monday. Wondering how to store your sensory materials? I thought this looked pretty cool and want to give it a try!

 

Here are some other ways we’ve enjoyed our sensory table:

 

sunflower theme ideas

Sunflower Picture Books (click on photo for affiliate link):

    


 

Other Sunflower Activities:

 

Are you getting my weekly newsletters? They are delivered right to your e-mail!

Sign up here.

 

profile+footer.png