Spiriteds, WHAT IN THE ACTUAL WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING? Or not happening, as it were? Where is SPRING???? And if you’re a Midwesterner, you know how this weather is going to go down. We’ll be in the middle of a snowstorm on Wednesday and have 85-degree weather by Friday. I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book The Long Winter as a child and thinking how fun it would be to cozy up indoors until May. Mom disagreed. What tomfoolery was I even trying to sell myself? Winter until May, Mom’s foot. That was 1987 or some such year. In the year 2018, our Spirited family is over the “cozy” part of winter. I NEED SUN, and the girls need warm weather. Unlike Toodle, Twinkle isn’t in all-day school yet, and she has a special brand of cabin fever to prove it. Enter sensory play ideas for preschoolers.
Also, may we take a moment to give shoutouts to ALL THE TEACHERS???? It is almost May, and yet they are still contending with winter gear x 25+ students just to go outside for recess, 1-3 times per day. I weep for them because I cannot even with the layers. This mom wants to buy new coats every time a zipper gets jammed.
I can do hard things, but I cannot do zippers.
However, I can do sensory play because even though it is messy, Toodle and Twinkle are engulfed in its possibilities. And who am I to get in the way of progress? Just like when they engage in loose parts play, the girls actually stay in one place for more than 30 seconds (probably they inherited my incessant need to move around).
My biggest regret? Not doing these sensory play ideas for preschoolers sooner. You don’t need a chemical engineering degree to make your own slime, nor do you need four gazillion dollars and ready access to a specialty store to obtain the supplies. If you have access to baking soda and liquid watercolors or food coloring, then you definitely have what you need for Easy Dough, also sometimes known as cloud dough. Furthermore, if you have access to pasta and/or rice, along with food coloring or liquid watercolors, then again, you’re set to go! And, finally, if you have glue, contact lens solution, and baking soda, you are on your way to making slime. Elmer’s Glue has a slime recipe that is easy to play around with.
When concocting sensory play ideas for preschoolers, I work with liquid watercolors because they don’t stain. I bought mine on Amazon, and the next time I order, I’m going for bulk sizing. Also, let’s say you get a little carried away with your colors and several squirts land smack on your beige kitchen grout. Let’s just say. Yes, it’s easy cleanup. Grab a wet cloth, then wipe away, and the mess is gone in seconds. Or so I’ve heard.
Sensory play ideas for preschoolers include foam, cloud or easy dough, rice or pasta, slime, and so many other ideas. I’m working on a gluten-free playdough, and I’ll be back with that once I have a workable recipe.
I find the more open-ended I keep the play, the more fun the girls have. To strengthen their fine motor skills, I add sensory play accessories, which include:
- Tongs and tweezers
- Wood sticks or regular sticks
- Cookie cutters
- Small dishes and pails
I am surprised by how self-directed the girls are when they do sensory play. Toodle and Twinkle are easily entertained and engaged for an hour or more, at any given time. On the weekends, they’ll spend the better part of a day up to their arms in rocks, water, and plastic sea creatures. They don’t even ask for TV, and only sometimes do they ask for the radio. I swear sensory play activities for kids are therapeutic.
A few resources I have found helpful include:
- A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities to Reconnect Children with Nature
- 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids
Both books are by Asia Citro who runs the blog www.FunAtHomeWithKids.com. Citro provides recipes to concoct several science and art experiments (including those listed above). Toodle and Twinkle are in love with pretty much every activity she creates, and with a long winter that seems to never end, I confess, I’m all too grateful for the help. Because this winter, like the one Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about, is LOOOONG. While we don’t have quite the snowstorms she wrote about, we are definitely close to having snow on the ground come May. And, like zippers, I cannot even with that.