I have a very close friend who sends her daughter to, what I consider to be, an amazing daycare in Michigan. Aside from what seems to be excellent care, her daughter is always doing sensory activities – everything from playing with play-doh to sitting in a bin of jello. I LOVE THAT. My friend’s daughter is older than Simon, but when I knew I was pregnant I would think of my friend’s daughter and how cool I thought it was that she was learning about her senses and the world around her through, often messy, play.
Since before Simon was born I knew that I wanted to introduce him to sensory play very early. Initially it was in the form of a bath, pouring water, washing his face, walking outside in the wind, or laying on plush blankets, but these days he is much more alert and I am able to add actual play into the mix.
A couple of weeks ago I decided that I didn’t need to buy anything and that I would make the sensory toys at home. Sometimes I get crafty like that :).
I did some reading on other blogs and perused Pinterest for ideas. A lot of the ideas that I found need to wait until Simon can sit because I don’t think it would be a great idea to let him roll around in a huge bin of noodles or oatmeal quite yet, but others seemed perfect. I chose 2 activities that I thought would be super easy to recreate and I got to it.
I created sensory bottles and a tugging tube.
I wanted to do this in a very low budget way, so I went to the Dollar Store and picked up glitter, beads, etc. They didn’t have any bottles and I didn’t have any old water bottles lying around, so I grabbed some plastic travel bottles from Target and used those. Had I really not wanted to spend a dime I definitely could have used more items from around the house.
Truthfully, I didn’t think this project through all that far before I went to the dollar store. You can see what I bought in the picture above. I didn’t need anywhere close to that amount of “stuff”, but I thought that if it didn’t get used for this it would be used in other ways later on.
Basically what I am saying here is that you should be creative and fill your bottles with whatever you want. I ended up using 3 of the bottles and filling them with glitter / water (a little glitter goes a long way), confetti / water, and beads / water.
The glitter and beads are awesome. The confetti stuck together and the water turned pink after a bit.
Simon was a big fan of these right away.
He woke up from a nap, I set him in his high chair and he enjoyed staring at the bottles, especially the glitter one, for many minutes. Then he started picking them up and that’s when I knew that it was smart of me to seal the tops with Gorilla Glue (insert pat on the back here). I’m not sure which he enjoys more; looking at them, tasting them, or shaking them. If someone else is holding them he is totally mesmerized.
It was really fun to see something that I made be so entertaining. Even a few weeks later (see pictures below).
Sensory Tugging Tube
I hoard ribbon like it’s going out of style and it was definitely time to put it to good use. When I saw a pin for a tugging box I knew that I wanted to make something similar because I already had the supplies on hand.
This was SO easy to do, especially since I enlisted my husband’s help to do the drilling. Actually, he offered so that I didn’t drill into our wood floors. Eh hem. He drilled about 20 holes and then I drilled about 6-10 more (without drilling into the floors).
I picked a bunch of random sized, colored, and textured ribbons and put them through the holes, tying knots on each end. Before I closed the lid to the mailing tube I decided to add some of the leftover beads from the sensory bottles so that the tube would make “rain stick” like noises when moved. I sealed the lids with Gorilla Glue and called it done.
I was surprised at how interested Simon was in the tug tube. He picked up on pulling the ribbon right away. He also enjoyed moving the tube around and hearing the beads. He also put it in his mouth. Of course.
It’s been a few weeks since I made these toys and we are still going strong with them. Whenever the nanny or I pull these out Simon is totally entertained.
Are you doing fun sensory activities with your kids? Do you have any great ideas to share? Let’s chat in the comments!
Are you knew to Sensory Play? Here’s what PBS says about it.
Don’t feel like making your own? Look on Etsy for sensory play items, they’re everywhere (and some of them are totally over the top).
There is absolutely no reason for these photos except that I just love these smiles. And this boy.
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