Valentine’s Day sensory bin

Last year we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but used the opportunity to do a lot of fun crafts and activities with the symbols of Valentine’s day, like hearts, candies, chocolates etc.

This year I’ve come up with a sensory bin idea for this occasion.

What I used:

  • one big container (IKEA)
  • coloured rice – red, purple, and white (see how to make it below)
  • hearts, candies, feather, beads (whatever you have) to search for in the bin hidden in the rice
  • cups and bowls
  • tools like ladle, tongs, tweezers (I couldn’t find the tweezers ūüė¶ )
How I coloured the rice:
You need:
  • a zip lock bag (IKEA)
  • 2 cups of rice (any kind of white rice will do)
  • food colouring (liquid type is better than the gel)
  • a bit of alcohol (optional)
How to do it:
Put 2 cups of rice in the zip lock bag, add 1 teaspoonful of red (or any other colour) food colouring and half a teaspoonful of alcohol. The latter is optional. It helps to get brighter colours plus your rice will last long if not forever…
Now give it a shake until the colour is everywhere on the rice. (I didn’t but you can do it with your child. It must be fun for them to see how the rice changes colour)
I did the same with the purple rice. As I didn’t have purple food colouring I mixed it out of red and blue beforehand.
I dried the rice on baking paper to make sure it won’t stain my hand and to get rid of the smell of alcohol.
I put the rice in the container (half red, half purple Рmy daughter did the mixing) and I also provided some white rice for extra fun.

What I put in the bin:

  1.  wooden muffin
  2. purple butterfly beads
  3. sparkly candies (cut out of a foam sheet but you can add real candy, too)
  4. red jingle bells
  5. wooden hearts
  6. pegs with hearts on
  7. purple pompoms
  8. pink flower-shaped beads
  9.  red feathers
  10. felt hearts
I hid them in the rice as much as I could.
Extras: I cut out 6 hearts and wrote the letters of my daughter’s name on them. I also put them in the bin so she can make her name when she finds them. (The easiest way to make the foam hearts is to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I pressed it on the foam sheet and cut along the print it made.)

E. was pretty excited about the bin as soon as she saw it.

She poured in the extra white rice.

She happily used the ladle and the tongs.

She used the bowls to put in whatever she found. (It was interesting to see that she separated them like hearts, round things like pompoms, bells, and beads all by herself)

She also enjoyed mixing the coloured rice with her hands.

After she’d found and taken out everything she asked Daddy to find what she’d hidden. Then they took turns and did the same again and again.

The next day I gave her 2 sheets with the objects she can find in the bin on the top and she selected them in each column. We did a little counting as well.

On the second day I also added the letter of “I LOVE YOU”
With a little help she could put it together.

She’s been playing with it ever since.
-Mommy, we can play with it on the floor, too – she said and continued down there.

TWO other activities to do with the rice:

  1. write with fingers
  2. I spy bottle

What are these? Come back later to check them out. I’ll show them to you in another post.

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Conker games

Whenever we go somewhere we MUST collect something. My pockets are full of stones, acorns, berries and conkers, just to mention a few. One day we visited Margaret-island (a small island on the River Danube, Budapest) and managed to collect tons of different fruit of various trees and bushes.

Rose hips, conkers, sycamore “rotors”, pine cones, acorns, London plane seed balls, wild pear, seed pods of China tree

 

So during E.’s nap time I put together this tray of all kinds of fruits and a magnifying glass. As soon as she discovered the tray she eagerly examined their texture, the surface and the inside of the fruit.

We collected a full bag of conkers and pine cones, half of which we took to E.’s kindergarten. The other half of cones we’ll use for decoration and Christmas ornaments (see a later post) and the conkers we’ve used to play games with.

Counting conkers
 
 

I put the conkers in a woven basket and placed the number cards on the table. E. needed to put the right number of conkers below the cards.

When we played this game we’d just returned home from the nursery and changed languages. You can hear in this video how she is mixing English and Hungarian, and also, me asking back “Sorry?” all the time in a silly way ūüėČ

I’ve found a super-cute squirrel grid game on prekinders.com and although we didn’t have enough acorns or walnuts that squirrels love eating, we used our conkers as manipulatives for this game.

How does the game go?

E., Daddy and myself played so I printed 3 copies of the squirrel grid (of 20 squirrel) and put LOADS of conkers in a bowl. You’ll need a game die. Of course, the youngest starts the game, throws the game die and identifies the number on it. The player then needs to place the same number of conkers on the grid. We take turns and the winner is who finishes the grid first. (You can play it as an addition game with 2 dice if your child is older. If he/she is younger, you can use a special die with only 1-2-3 on it)

I’ll be the winner, not you Daddy.
Mind you! Conkers are slightly toxic, so it’s better to know that just a very few animals can eat it (like deer), but people and squirrels never.

 Name written in conkers

I prepared my daughter’s name, each letter on a different piece of paper. First, she put the letters in the right order, then following the lines of the letters, she placed the conkers along the lines.

 Krokotak conker mushrooms

What you need:

  • conkers
  • acorns
  • play dough

Not as good-looking as the original idea, but they represent our family: E. mushroom, Daddy mushroom and Mommy mushroom. (from right to left)

Last year we did some conker threading¬†after making a whole on the conkers with the help of a screwdriver. If you haven’t had enough of conkers, check it out.

What do you play with at autumn time? Share with me in the comments.

Our first dental project III. – 4 more activities

As a part of our dental project we did some more tooth crafts, experiments and had a fascinating insight into the structure of a tooth combined with some letter recognition. Here they come:

Stick the teeth

I enlarged and printed this mouth without teeth from the net, the cut out small pieces of rectangles for teeth. I also provided E. with some pink, red and claret coloured pencils and crayons to colour the inside of the mouth. Of course, there was glue for her to start the sticking of the teeth

Colouring:

Gluing:
Sticking:
A little bit of fooling around: – Look, Mommy, I’m a rabbit.

Eating oreo and apple

To show E. what happens to her teeth when she eats sweets I “made” her eat an Oreo biscuit. First, she thought I was kidding when I offered her a chocolate biscuit before dinner. She asked with hesitation: – Can I eat it?



After she’d eaten it I took a photo of her teeth and she could have a look in the mirror how they looked.
I guess she won’t forget the meaning of disgusting.
yuckie
Then I served her with a few slices of apple and told her to “clean” her teeth. She didn’t understand what I meant. Still, she enjoyed the experiment so much she ate up the apple slices without any questions.¬†
munch, munch
She was more than happy after looking into the mirror again.
They are white again.
We talked about healthy and unhealthy food (I have another activity in mind connected to this topic), how food is stuck on our teeth and the importance of eating food good for our teeth and, of course, why it is necessary to brush our teeth.
 

The inside of a tooth

I brought this huge tooth with flaps to open from Ireland. I thought I could use it teaching kids. Although I’ve been teaching quite a lot of children, none of them was at such a level that I could use this fantastic material with them. But the time came when I could have a great use of it.
On the back
The other side with the flaps

Opening the flaps you can examine the inside of the tooth

You can make your own lift-the-flap tooth

We were talking about it both in English and at another time in Hungarian. E. also examined her own tooth crowns and how they sit in her gum. A funny conversation:

M.: – You see how pink your gum is?
E.:- Yes, but why not… purple?
M.: – Because it would mean your gum is ill.
E.: – But mine is beautiful and healthy.
M.: – Sure it is. You take good care of your gum and teeth.

At another time when she wanted to look at the “big tooth” again, I flipped the side flaps back so she couldn’t see them names and I “tested” her a little. I asked her to show me the gum, the dentine, the enamel and the pulp with the blood vessels. She remembered them all. In the book (I’ve already written about in an earlier post), IzgŇĎ-mozg√≥ fogaim,¬†she saw funny-looking bacteria chewing themselves through the enamel to the dentine. She remembered this picture and said:

– Mommy, in the book the bad bacteria goed (sic!) into the dentine to eat it.


I think now she’s aware of the fact how¬†important it is¬†to¬†clean our teeth. To be honest, she rarely refused to brush her teeth. Sometimes, when she is tired in the evening or in a bad mood, she asks me to do do it.
– Mommy, you do it, but gently, please.

Letter recognition

As she was really interested and amazed by the task above I thought a bit of letter recognition wouldn’t hurt. I made 4 cards and added some Scrabble letter cubes to them.

Busy buddy at work – concentration on maximum
I also drew a tooth on which she could identify the different parts after finishing a word.
pulp

She needed to recognise the letters and put them in order. I expected her to ask for help or first I thought we should do this activity together but she did it all on her own… 3-4 times, actually. Then I decided to do the same in Hungarian as well.

Much to my surprise, she noticed that dentine (in English) and dentin (in Hungarian) are the same except for the last letter E. She told me this comparison once at dinnertime. Then we had to list a few words that are similar or the same in English and Hungarian. Mind you, we never compare the two languages, it happened in her head totally by herself.

Our dental project hasn’t finished yet, though we’ll take a break (to spend more time with E.’s new craze/hobby/interest i.e. chess).

But I’ll come back with a compelling science experiment, which still belongs to our dental unit.

Rainbow, Pom-poms and shamrocks for St Patrick

More and more St. Patrick’s Day stuff. If you haven’t done anything that is colourful, shamrock-shaped or fluffy, then have a look at our collection.


Rainbow Name Puzzle (via Still Playing School)

What you need:

  • 7 coloured craft foam sheets (red, orange, yellow, pink, green, blue, purple)
  • printed rainbow template
  • 2 clips
  • 1 pin
  • scissors
  • marker

Still Playing School didn’t go into details how to cut the foam so they fit together nicely so I came up with my own idea.

I placed the printed rainbow template on the foam sheet and fixed it with 2 clips

Then I used the pin to pierce through the paper (and the foam sheet) along the line

You can see here that it is much easier to cut out the strips along the holes

 

It takes time but it’s worth it

Our foam rainbow with Patrick and rainbow on one side and my daughter’s full name on the other side.

When I first show her the strips she was puzzled and a little frightened as they were wriggling in my hand. But as soon as I put the colourful strips down on the table she loved them.

She needed to concentrate hard on putting them in the right order according to their size

 

In the end she spelled the letters then I read them out.

We’ll play more with it. Rainbow in the bathtub is on our list.

Pom-Pom Colour Selection with tongs

To extend our colour activity I gave E. some pom-poms of 3 colours (of the Irish flag): green, white and orange. With the tongs she separated them in 3 groups.
Easy to prepare and a popular activity with my daughter.

Number practice

I also wanted to do some tasks with numbers involved as my little one loves numbers. I was hesitating between these great number cards by Welcome to Mummyhood

and a number activity from Pinay Homeschooler’s St. Patrick’s Day Unit.

StPatrickDayTinyTots

As I couldn’t find nice and St. Patrick related (shamrock shaped or horseshoe) counters and I didn’t want to cut out numbers, I picked the latter.

From the unit above I printed the number cards and laminated them. From Christmas time I had some green counters.

E. did this activity with Daddy as we’d been having a bad cold. Although she’s better now I haven’t had time to relax a little and get my strength back. So I decided to take a little rest in the afternoon. I prepared everything for them in advance.

 

They named the object/things on the card. E. counted them and placed the counters on the right number. It took her 3 minutes to finish. She knows ¬†her numbers. They left the cards on the table for me to have a look at the great work they’d done. How cute!

Heart-shaped Shamrock Leaves

I cut out a lot of heart shapes and some triangles. I used green construction paper and presented them like this with an example she can follow.

Daddy supervised this activity, too, and they had lots of fun. And did a little drawing as well.

 

As they put the shamrocks under one another I placed them in our St Patrick’s Day corner as a banner.

We’ve been doing loads of activities lately. Not only these ones but other fun tasks concerning our National Holiday coming on 15 March. I’ll come back with some Hungarian Revolution related activities for the Hungarian Moms. Stay tuned!

More fun with the ABC

E. has an unquenchable thirst for the letters and the alphabet. Here are 2 more activities we’ve done recently. ¬†

1. Giant alphabet puzzle
2. Salt dough letters

– ABC giant puzzle

I was lucky enough to get hold of this giant alphabet puzzle in a secondhand toy shop. No piece is missing. There are one or two pieces that are a little stained but otherwise it is in great condition.

When E. is putting the puzzle pieces together she is singing the ABC song or we need to listen to it. (A money-saving trick: you do not need to buy a lot of English music CDs. Just turn the youtube videos into mp3 music files with a converter)

While we are putting the puzzle together we name the pictures like A is for apple (like in the picture) and add some more words starting with that letter: ant or angel or antler. (I usually come up with words that she knows but if not we always have paper and pencils around to draw the unknown thing, or if we have it at home we go and have a look at it)

We have some foam letters which are the same size as the capital letters written on our giant puzzle. In the picture below E. is placing the foam letters on the puzzle. It was her own idea.

I use this alphabet puzzle even with adult students; it helps a lot with spelling and pronunciation.

– Salt dough letters

When E. turned 2 and a half last November we made her the very first home-made salt dough (1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of boiling hot water). And it was a hit.

I found this  cheap set of ABC cookie cutters in a One-Dollar shop. It has just one problem: letter S is the other way round.

spooning the ingredients

Not only was she learning/pracising words like kneading, rolling pin, mix and stir, add, measure but also strengthened her arms and hand muscles.

my little helper
First, the letters need to be in the right order of the alphabet

Cutting
E. helped to put the letters on a baking paper that I’d place on a tray and we put them all in the oven to dry (at 50 ¬įC).

Next day the painting started:

We used one colour at a time, but when we did this project this year colour mixing kicked in to make new colours like purple, brown or orange.
Ever since we have been playing with the letter as they are lying on E.’s shelf in the living room.