Summer Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    Baby sitting zazen in tidepool
    Photo Wes Miracle|CC

    Before summer fades away…..

    Make messes together with your child, and enjoy these fun sensory activities for toddlers and preschoolers!

    In an over stimulated world, one of the most important sensory activities is learning how to slow down, be still, and enjoy of the moment. And, yes… get messy and have fun together too!

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    Summer Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    1. Explore a Watermelon

    Watermelon isn’t just for eating!  Spit seeds. Slurp pulp. Carve rind.

    Suck on frozen watermelon cubes or put them into a blender (then strain), for a delicious Watermelon Aqua Fresca drink!

    Need a science project for your toddler?  Check out Learn~Play~Imagine’s recipes for Watermelon Foam Dough, Watermelon Slime and Erupting Watermelons!

    Collage of Watermelon Foam Dough Pictures from Learn Play Imagine
    Photos copyright Learn~Play~Imagine|Published with permission

    2. Make Mud Pies

    Find a puddle, and jump in! Does the mud feel slick, smooth, bumpy? How does it smell?

    Need some inspiration? Read Marjorie Winslow’s imaginative classic, Mud Pies and Other Recipes, complete with muddy appetizers, main courses, hor d’oeuvres, and even desserts.

    The book is a lively inspiration for mud cookery including how to properly collect, prepare, and serve delightfully dirty pretend cuisine….from Daisy Dip to Muddle Puddle Soup!

    Photo bzo|CC
    Photo bzo|CC
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     3. Feel Some Flax Seed

    Dig for buried treasure. Create a futuristic playground for your plastic animals.

    Sensory tables — filled with rice, corn, or just plain sand or water — are tactile playgrounds ready to spur not only the senses, but also imaginations.

    According to Teacher Tom, “Flax seed is the king of sensory materials.”, and we agree!  Flax seed provides both a silky texture, and a not-too-big, not-too-small tactile sensation (also perfect for easier clean-up….in comparison to sand!)

    Photos copyright Teacher Tom|Published with permission
    Photos copyright Teacher Tom|Published with permission

     4. Make Ice Cream Play Dough

    Open your own pretend ice cream stand with super-soft, and delightfully deceptive, homemade play dough ice cream.  This isn’t your typical playdough!

    Check out Still Playing School’s play dough tips for creating these visually yummy Neapolitan colors.

    Collage of ice cream play dough pictures from Still Playing School
    Photos copyright Still Playing School|Published with permission

    5. Sit in the Sand

    The beach is an all-in-one sensory experience. Dig a hole. Smell the ocean breeze. Collect and sort some shells.

    Baby zazen?  Teach your child to appreciate the moment, with the sand beneath their feet (and um, bottom!).

    If you’re not near the coast, create an edible sandbox filled with white cornmeal sand.  Sprinkle in a few sea shells, and add a shovel and pail! Check out this adorable Beach Sensory Box from Fun at Home with Kids.

    Beach Photo Wes Miracle|CC
    Beach Photo Wes Miracle|CC
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    6. Garden for Lavender Fairy Wands

    Take a deep breath and smell the garden. Practice fine-motor skills by cutting plants and sorting bundles.

    Lavender is a wonderful sensory material for making lavender play dough, or try sprinkling lavender in the bath tub to soothe and calm before bedtime.

    Girls cutting lavender in the garden
    Photo Nathan Wake|CC

    7. Do Absolutely Nothing

    Learning how to relax is also a sensory activity.  Listen to the crickets. Find shapes in the clouds. Smell the grass. Just hang out.Dad and Daughter Relaxing on Hillside

    The most important sensory activities are the little hugs, smells of home, and ability to sit still, and find contentment with the ones we love.

    Happy Summer!
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    Read More….

    Mud Pies and Other Recipes (New York Review Children's Collection)

    by Marjorie Winslow, Erik Blegvad

    Mud Puddle Soup? A must-have imaginative classic for a child's library.