One word…sensory. I have learned the hard way that no matter how much time I put into researching educational activities, searching the Internet for arts and crafts to keep my kiddos entertained, nothing works as well as sensory activities.
Over the winter we turned our water table into an indoor sensory table. We kept it in the kitchen and constantly used it, whether it was filled with colored rice, dry pasta, kinetic sand or water beads. Now that the weather is warm, we use the sensory table outside as much as possible. Here are the top three activities my kids love:
I love to use water beads for so many different reasons. First of all, they are fun for grown ups too. Second, kids are completely fascinated by them! They come in all different colors and sizes and are really cheap. When I’m in a pinch to find something for my kids to do, I run into Hobby Lobby or Michaels and grab individual packets to survive the day. But if you order these on Amazon, they come in large bags and last forever. Recently I made some fish with capital letters printed on them, laminated them, and stuck them in the blue water beads with paper clips! My kids took turns using their Melissa and Doug magnetic fishing poles to catch a fish! They told me the letter they caught and matched it to a printable with lower case letters. This was so much fun for all of us!
This sensory activity may seem messy, but it is extremely easy to clean up if you are outside. After we made our Oobleck/slime, and when the kiddos were done playing with it, I sprayed the sensory table with the hose and rinsed off their bodies! This is perfect for a summer day because they won’t mind getting cleaned off with cold water. My kids love this sensory activity because oobleck is just magical. It hardens until you hold it in your hands, and then it immediately melts! My kids had the best time trying to roll little balls of oobleck in their hands and then holding them and watching them melt. All you need is 1.5-2 cups of corn starch, 1 cup of water, a few drops of food coloring (optional). If you want to make more just double the recipe!
This activity is another go-to in our home. I keep a large container of white vinegar and several boxes of baking soda on hand so I can create this for my kids on rainy afternoons when they are begging me for an activity. I like to use muffin tins or baking sheets to hide a few drops of food coloring with baking soda every few inches. Using droppers the kiddos can add clear white vinegar to reveal which color is under each baking soda mound. I also like to take deeper baking pans and hide small animal toys under the baking soda. I give each child a mason jar of vinegar with 1-2 drops of food coloring in each! They use their droppers to find the hidden animals. This activity is super engaging because of the chemical reaction that occurs when the vinegar hits the baking soda. The fizzing sound and bubbling make for some adorable reactions. My two year old always yells “ITS MOVING!” when he watches the reaction.
The next time you are looking for an activity that is quick, easy, and engaging, try one of these three activities! I hope your children enjoy them as much as mine do.