Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Playdough and Beyond: Sensory Activities for Kids Stuck at Home Due to the Cold




They canceled school today.  Way too cold.
Today they say it feels like -41C and that your skin will frostbite after 2 minutes of exposure (uncovered).  So they've canceled schools including classes at the University.  My husband is taking some time away from work to finally get us weather-appropriate tires (so now maybe Father will not worry so much about us walking to Mass).

That naturally means that children are stuck inside and not just mine but even school kids.  And movies are getting old (particularly since they had a winter break).  And Christmas gifts are starting to get boring.  And whinnying begins.  To help you (and me), I have ideas for breaking the boredom.  Sensory activities!

Warning:  Your children will giggle, smile, laugh, and be happy for oodles of time consuming fun.  But you will want to supervise as these activities can be quite messy.

To create a sensory box/table thingy-  You can make individual mini ones using sandwich boxes, shoe boxes, plastic mixing bowls, or cake pans.  You can make large communal ones using a large storage box.  It's really simply.

The tools- rolling pin, cookie cutters, sand toys, string, yarn, measuring spoons or scoops, or anything that takes a shape like bowls.  We used some of my kids kitchen toys.  Whatever you have on hand.  You and your children can experiment. 

Playdough- 

This one is very versatile.  I recommend using the Kool-aid version, but you can substitute cinnamon for Kool-aid.  You can also add peppermint (the cooking kind not essential oil).  You can also use gluten free or rice flour if you have allergies/sensitivities. It works just like the commercial varieties. 

Clean up-  You can wait for it to dry and vacuum it or if it's particularly bad use baby wipes to scrub it out of the carpet.

Beans, Rice, and Pasta- 

This one is for scooping, measuring, and also you can bury small plastic toys for the kids to dig for.  You can use different varieties with older children so that you can work on sorting by size or color or type.  The pasta can be strung on yarn too.  Just add dry beans, or rice, or pasta to your box/table and have fun!

Clean up- You may need to use the handheld sucking attachment on your vacuum or simply sweep even on carpet.  Rice is not the easiest to get off carpet.

Cloud dough- 

8 parts flour to 1 part cooking oil (or baby oil for smell).  I used 4 cups flour and 1/2 cup of veggie oil.  Kneed.  It should be the consistency of sand and malleable enough to use in molds. You can add food coloring for variety.  You play with it like sand or snow.  Be sure to have children in play clothes as it's still powdery.  The commercial version is called Moon dough. 

Clean up- I set my vacuum to bare floor and it came right off the carpet so if you are over actual bare floor, you can sweep it up.

Oobleck- 

1 part corn starch to 1 part water.  You can also use food coloring.  This one is fun because it changes from solid to liquid (it has a scientific name but since my children aren't completely preoccupied at the moment the actual name escapes me).  I confess I haven't tried this one yet.  But my son's school used it particularly around Dr. Seuss's birthday.  You can use it at your kitchen table and it's fine.

Clean up- No idea yet.

So have fun today!
Rice sensory table.

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