I am always looking for creative ideas that are "new" to me...I love finding educational games and fun activities online to share with my kids. Since we've decided to homeschool, I admittedly spend too much time looking up ideas in my free time (and with two young boys, that's limited) that will create fun learning experiences that we can enjoy together. I know the winter months are approaching, and our outdoor time will then be severely limited for quite a while, so I am also stockpiling ideas for both creative and active indoor play.
One idea that keeps popping up on nearly every blog or website that involves preschoolers is the sensory tub/bin. Some are as simple as colored rice (which was my first intentional sensory activity--you can see our trial run here), and others are very detailed, like this fantastic robot sensory tub...a little beyond my beginner's creativity at this point! :)
I thought this would be a great idea for Emory, even though I knew Elliott would join in too. Now I can see why some people
I chose an Autumn theme first because, well, it's officially fall, the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and the autumn decorations are out in our house.
--This bin here was my primary inspiration--
I only bought two small bags of autumn decor (leaves, pumpkins, gourds, miniature pine cones, etc) for just over $1 each at Wal-Mart, since I didn't know how much I would be able to salvage from our old cornucopia that had certainly seen better days.
From around the house:
--purple and yellow popcorn kernels
--leaves, gourds and the little straw puff from our old cornucopia
--two little brown baskets (originally held decorative seashells)
--large brown beads and brown knotted ribbon cut into pieces (broken necklace)
--green beads (broken necklace)
--orange scoop from a pumpkin carving kit
I made it during quiet/nap time, and since it happened to be pouring the rain that day, I didn't have to wait long to share it!
It was a hit! I did have to give the boys an extra plastic spoon, and I brought out the medicine spoons and cups that we used for the rice so they could do some scooping and pouring. They used the travel medicine cups with lids to make shakers.
Elliott started growing pumpkins for me, and they went on a treasure hunt for jewels (the green beads). Emory really enjoyed sorting out all of the beads with Elliott, and he would dump them back again so he could start again. Once he tired of the green "jewels" he moved on to the large brown beads.
The boys played with this for close to 45 minutes, and anything that can occupy both a 2 year old and an almost-5 year old at the same time for that long is a success!
The next time we get it out, it won't be as "new" so I'll be able to suggest some activities, like sorting the green beads by style, counting the green beads and brown beads to see which color has more, and filling the containers to different levels.
Choking Hazard Alternative:
I teach the Puggles class at church on Wednesday nights, and since they are also preschool aged, I thought this would be a fun activity to do at the end of the night. I haven't noticed any "mouthers" in my class so far (now that my own Emory is finally outgrowing it), but just in case, I am going to remove the popcorn kernels and beads, and replace them with acorn shaped confetti (Target $1 spot) and shredded construction paper in fall colors. This will also give the boys another version to play with when I bring it home. I'll probably also add some more of the small brown baskets, since I could have 5 or 6 little ones at a time in my class. In fact, I might split it into two tubs so there is plenty of elbow room.