Monday, July 14, 2014

Mama Monday: sensory bags and art center

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed looking at Pinterest. Who are these people, and where do they come up with some of this stuff? A while back, I saw a bunch of "weekly schedules" for babies. What?? It had a very set agenda that included things like "Free play," "music time," "reading time," "tv time," "exploration activity," and blah blah blah blah blah. It kind of overwhelmed me. My idea of schedule is... try to have one outing a day. Oh, and nap. Done and done.
But it did inspire Hans and I have to a conversation about the types of activities that Emma does each day. Most of the time when we are home, she just plays with her toys while I'm doing laundry or making dinner, or I'll get down on the floor and play with her toys with her. But as she gets older, we were thinking maybe she needs some more "structured" (for lack of a better word) activities that help her develop certain skills and aren't just "free play." (Side bar: how do you like all my quotes and made up words? I still need to understand and get comfortable with mommy jargon).

Anyway, we looked through Pinterest and tried to pick out a few small activities to get started with. She loves coloring books so we thought we'd set up a little art center for her. I went to Michaels to pick up an easel and was bummed that they were $60! Womp womp. But then we went to Ikea and found this guy for 15 bucks. Score! It has a chalkboard on one side and a white board on the other, which we will use when she gets a little older. For now we covered it with butcher paper. And she is loving it. Only issue so far? She doesn't understand the easel so much and doesn't understand why she can't just draw on the walls. She looks at me like, "Wait, I can draw THERE, but not THERE?" We'll work on it.
The other activity center we set up for her is in the kitchen, so she can work on it while I'm cooking. I picked up a bunch of small tactile items from Michaels. Anything would work, but I used fuzzy poms, plastic alphabet letters, animal buttons (farm and zoo), and googly eyes.
I stuck them in a gallon size freezer bag and dumped in the cheapest hair gel I could find (LA looks, 20 ounce bottle, <$2 at HEB). I bought two and discovered one was totally enough. If you put too much hair gel it can be hard to see the items and it makes the bag really heavy. You want just enough for the objects to move around in, but not so much the gel all sinks to the bottom. I taped it to the pantry door and she loves squishing the gel, move the objects around, and pointing at the different animals and making their noises. I was really pleased that a couple times last week, she actually brought me the bag to hang on the pantry door so she could play with it. It was a quick, cheap and easy activity to make.
What other activities do you have for your toddler? I have a couple more in mind to try, but I welcome and appreciate all your suggestions!


  1. the grams would suggest blocks - like the kind that stack and puzzles. all kinds of puzzles. melissa and doug are her favorites ;) all about developing logical thinking and motor skillllllz.

  2. Not an activity idea, but I did buy Claire washable crayons. Best thing ever.