According to the calendar it has been spring for a little while now, but it is still light jackets and hot coffee for those of us in the Garden State. It is a traditional time for birds chirping, gardening, baseball, and the beginning of sitting outside in the warm rays of the sun.
Since the weather has been chilly this Spring, we have still been incorporating sensory bins in our homes but as the weather does improve sensory based activities are achieved by going outside and interacting with nature.
In continuing with the exploration of sensory activities for the Mommy University series Sensory Play, we bring:
4 Spring Sensory-Based Activities
As much as I love Spring in NJ, it also means the beginning of massive construction projects on roads and highways. My children love to identify all the diggers as we drive past them on the roads. They are fascinated with these large and impressive vehicles. And why not? They are cool and calming to watch. This spring you can build a construction site at home. If you have the room in your backyard and some child sized dump trucks, set aside a corner with rocks. This will surely keep them entertained for a good length of time.
Even if you don’t have a lot of space or want to dedicate a chunk of our garden for this endeavor, you can still create a construction site sensory bin by putting some small sized rocks in a plastic container. Bags of rocks can be purchased at the dollar store or you can have your children collect the rocks outside. You can pick up construction vehicles that will fit in the palm of your hand. Children will enjoy moving the rocks around. Another twist is to use Sands Alive as the children will enjoy how it feels to roll the vehicles over the sand and to shape it into buildings.
*Want to add even more learning fun to your sensory play? You can also include some books as you play with the construction site such as Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site or Dig.
Dirt surrounds us but what children do with it can be different. If your gardening, make sure to include them. They can have their own planters to grow beans, flowers or herbs. They can decorate the planter by painting it. Put the dirt in the planter, poke a hole, push seeds in the dirt, and then move dirt over the seeds. Children will enjoy the responsibility. Your child, however, might just want to dig for treasure or dinosaur bones. Let them play with some child sized shovels or trowels. Your child might also enjoy making mud pies. From the earth, dirt provides opportunities for fun and learning.
After many trips to zoos and aquariums my children love looking for frogs. While we have not encountered them in nature yet, we can’t wait to see them in their natural habitat. In the meantime, when we can’t make it to the zoo or the lake, we have made a replica of pond life in our sensory bin. With pebbles, sticks, and a small tray filled with water beads (you can use a bowl filled with water to represent the pond), we filled the bin with our Frogs & Turtles Toob from Safari Ltd. My son played with this every day and when we put them away, he asked for them back. We talked about what frogs and turtles need to eat, where they live, and of course read books about them.
Sandboxes are wonderful opportunities for children to play. They can keep themselves entertained for a solid length of time just moving the sand around using various cups or shovels. You can even surprise your children by hiding toys in the sandbox and having them dig for the hidden treasure. If you have foam letters hide them in to help boost letter recognition. You can learn about a great sand and water table in our Little Tikes review.
What does your family do during the spring that is a sensory-based activity?