Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas sensory bin

Ellie is 12 months old

This was our first real sensory bin. I threw together some things we had around the house and introduced it at the beginning of December. She loved it and asked for it every single day. Her favorite activities this month were finding all the jingle bells, playing with the snowman figurine, crunching the bows in her hands and pulling everything out of the bin and putting it all back in again.

I was thrilled with her engagement and excitement over this bin. I'm definitely planning on doing one a month from now on.

Pointing out the snowman's nose (Do you see the vacuum in the background? It's a rare find in our house!)

Finding a bell!

The bin included: Christmas bows, floral picks (from Hobby Lobby; there were crystals, white balls and silver balls), beaded balls, some soft ornaments, a sparkly plastic ornament, snowman Santa figurine, jingle bells.

Sponge bath toys

I had seen an activity in some Montessori resources about transferring water between bowls using a sponge. Ellie isn't quite ready for that, but I liked the idea and so just cut up a clean kitchen sponge and threw it in Ellie's bath. She thinks it's pretty awesome. She loves putting it on her head and squeezing it out over her face. She also loves trying to bail out her bath onto the bathroom floor, so we're working on that...

Hide and seek box

Easiest. Activity. Ever.

Step 1. Order something big from Amazon.
Step 2. Cut a few holes of different sizes and shapes (make sure heads can't get caught!).
Step 3. Sit back and watch your baby have the time of her life.

Newborn sensory bin

I made a beginning sensory bin for when Ellie was just a baby. I got a couple different kinds of fabric (satin, a see-through gauzy fabric and a fuzzy faux fur), some big fuzzy pom-poms, a big feather, a large fake flower and a string of beads.

At first, I would play with them on her bare belly, talking about each one -- whether it was smooth, fluffy, scratchy, soft, etc. When she started reaching, she loved grabbing ahold of each thing and feeling it on her own. I'd also go over different parts of her body and name them as we went -- "Do you feel the feather tickling your toes?"

She played with this until about 6 months or so, when she was too into putting stuff in her mouth and started pulling threads out of the satin!

Raisin container roller

This was another idea from our Parents as Teachers educator. I cut out a bunch of photos of babies and kids from magazines and taped them to an empty raisin container (the big round ones). Then I ran a sheet of contact paper around it to secure the whole thing. This was a great entertainment for tummy time, something to chase when she was starting to crawl, and now works well for talking about emotions and facial features.

I found it surprising how difficult it was to find kids who weren't white with blond or brown hair. I found one redhead, a couple Asian kids, one or two African-American children, and one baby with Down Syndrome. I couldn't find any with braces, glasses, wheelchairs, etc.! But at least it's a start! I also worked to find kids with obvious facial emotions -- scared, crying, happy, sleeping, etc.

Wipes container hide-and-seek

I got this idea from Shayna. It's super easy, and helps with a number of skills -- fine motor development, language, object permanence, reasoning. Cut out easily recognizable objects from magazines and laminate them. Then hide them in an old wipes container. I put in some extra photos of her too as a fun surprise.

Ellie loved digging around and finding pictures, especially of babies and food -- and herself!

As she's gotten older, we've started practicing identifying the objects and talking about similar items (like fork and spoon). I also cut out sets of lowercase and capital letters. Yeah, it's a bit early, but it can't hurt, right?

Shayna has a much better post about this activity here.

Medicine bottle shakers

Ellie is OBSESSED with medicine bottles full of pills. For obvious reasons, we don't let her play with them. But to give her something similar, I took empty bottles and filled them with beans and Cheerios. Now she can play with the medicine bottles, practice shaking and making noise, and feel like a big girl with Mommy's migraine medicine :-)

Shaker bottle

This was an idea I got from our Parents as Teachers educator and modified to use what we had around the house.

I took a Gatorade bottle (we down this stuff at our house) and removed the label, then thoroughly cleaned it inside and outside. I filled it with some colorful pompoms, a couple strings of beads and a bag of metallic confetti. I picked these things because they were a) colorful, b) would make noise (the beads), c) had a variety of sizes, and d) were on sale at Hobby Lobby! Anything bright, colorful and interesting to look at would work.

I ran a line of hot glue around the top and screwed the cap on, then used an incredible amount of electric tape (because it's what I had around) to secure it and cover the lid.

When Ellie was a newborn, I'd hold this above her head during diaper changes and put it on the floor to encourage tummy time. When she started sitting on her own, she loved holding this, examining it and shaking it. It was also useful as a roller toy to encourage her to crawl. She finally started to get bored with it around 10 months, so I'm going to make her another one filled with rice and small objects to play I Spy.

Ribbon ring

I noticed Ellie was really interested (as most babies seem to be) in playing with little bits of ribbon, string, tags, etc. I decided to create a little toy for her to explore different textures and colors.

I went to Joann's and picked out a foot of ribbon in each different color. I tried to find as many textures, widths and patterns as I could. I didn't really feel like trying to sew, so I looked for something that would safely secure the ribbon. I found these D-rings in the aisle with things to make customized purses.

When I got home, I tied each ribbon in a quadruple knot around the D-ring.

Ellie LOVES this little thing. She grabs the different pieces, rubs them, chews on them. She also loves being tickled with it. We also talk about the colors and textures. Of course, be careful with this and supervise it, because it can be a choking hazard.

Starting out...

I decided to bite the bullet and start a blog. I'm not expecting a lot of readers -- it's really more for me to catalog activities, projects, etc. we do at home. I love being organized, and I don't really have a place to keep this information! So I'm going to start with a bunch of posts all at once to capture some old things we've done...