If you're tired of your toddler watching Pooh tromp through the Hundred Acre Wood, turn off the television and create your own cuddly forest animals together. Appeal to your toddler's many senses with a variety of activities designed to engage his sense of touch, smell and sight. Bears, bunnies and little moles get a chance to shine -- all with a sensory component. Even better, one activity gives you the perfect excuse to drink another cup of coffee.
Are you a bear without your morning cup of coffee? Well, drink up because those leftover coffee grounds are the perfect medium for crafting with your little one. Cut out a simple bear outline from construction paper. Let your child squeeze white glue all over one side of the bear cut-out. Squeeze glue bottles are great for strengthening little hands as they develop fine motor skills. Help your child sprinkle coffee grounds on top of the glue and allow the bear to dry. The finished product smells and feels great -- sensory fun for the nose and little fingers.
Dried Bean Moles
Legumes are a super food and a super way to keep your toddler busy and happy. Dried beans are a must in any sensory table, but they are also the perfect filler for a paper mole project. Roll a piece of brown construction paper into a cone shape and tape along the side. Let your child dig her hands into the dried beans and fill the paper cone. Tape the open end so the beans are completely contained in the paper. Help your toddler draw a face on the front of the cone and glue small feet to the bottom of the cone. The result? An adorable mole that won't ruin your lawn.
Grab some shaving cream and don't worry about the mess, because who wants to get in the way of an artistic genius? (Which your toddler clearly is.) Mix equal parts shaving cream and white glue to create the ultimate sensory paint. Cut a piece of construction paper into the shape of a rabbit. Let your child layer the fluffy paint over the rabbit, using his hands or a paintbrush. The paint will be light and fluffy and it retains its three-dimensional shape after drying. Hang the soft bunny on the fridge, so your child can touch it and continue the sensory experience.
Sensory Table Forest
A sensory table can be mommy's best friend. With the right materials, your toddler will play happily for extended periods of time. There are sensory tables available for purchase, but you can also make your own for a fraction of the cost. Under bed storage containers are large, but shallow, perfect for a DIY sensory table. Place it on the floor or table and it's ready to go. Fill your table with several inches of dried beans, rice or pasta. Your toddler will love running his hands through the material. Add leaves and twigs from the yard for more texture. Toss in toy forest animals and your child will spend the afternoon playing in her very own sensory forest. No bug spray necessary.
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