Pasta Sensory Box for Babies

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pas1Now Oscar is at school until just after midday I have started doing some activities at home with Millie in the mornings. Before when Millie has joined in with our activities they have been activities that I have set-up for Oscar that are either baby-safe or have been changed to make them baby safe. Baby-safe in my eyes usually means that the sensory play product that we are playing with is edible. Sometimes that item may not taste very nice, like our homemade baby safe paints (flour, water and food colouring) but they will not cause any harm if a little is digested.

This morning whilst Millie was napping, I set up this ridiculously simple pasta sensory box for her to play with when she woke up. I literally dumped half a bag of pasta shells into our clear storage box and added a few utensils like a spoon, some silicone cupcake cases and some shape sorting blocks. It took me all of 2 minutes to set up. Millie was really excited when she woke up and saw the box on the kitchen floor and dug straight in. She picked a few shells of pasta up and squeezed them with her hands before bringing the shells up to her face to look at them more closely. Of course a few pieces went in her mouth and she had a little chew on them. I sat with her showing her how to ‘mix’ the pasta with her spoon and pick some shells up into the air and drop them again. She thought that was hilarious and was really ‘belly laughing’ at the pasta dropping back into the box. She played for a good 20 minutes before she started exploring the kitchen cupboards (a new skill – opening doors!).

I popped the box into Oscar’s room on the floor ready for when he got home from school, as I just knew he would enjoy mixing the pasta and making some ‘pasta cakes’ using the cupcake cases, and of course little Millie would love sitting there watching him play and joining in with him too!

What you need:

Pasta shells (uncooked)

Box (we used a clear storage box from Ikea)

Spoons, bowls, cupcake cases, cookie cutters etc

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Baby Bath Station

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babybathI have been planning on doing a baby bath station for Oscar and Millie to play with for a while but our only dolls at home were soft or had batteries in them so over the summer on my ‘to buy’ list was a hard baby doll. I managed to get a couple of really cheap dolls whilst in the UK so finally I could prep this activity for an afternoon after school last week. I fully expected that Oscar would get completely involved and enjoy bathing the baby and that Millie would probably sit there and splash in the water. How wrong was I?! After watching Oscar for about 10 minutes, Millie began copying Oscar’s actions and was placing the flannel on the baby’s face and squeezing the soapy water from the sponge over the baby! She began washing the baby in her own little way! How wrong was I?!

Oscar loved this activity as often at bath time he takes a few of his plastic toy animals in the bath with him and usually washes them so he loved that he was able to do the full baby bathing thing with his doll. He washed its face, its hair and its entire body as well as drying the doll with the towel on Millie’s changing mat and adding talc, baby lotion and with my help, even put a nappy to his doll. It’s definitely an activity that we will try and do on a regular basis as it good for naming body parts, learning about hygiene and of course its lots of fun and easy to set up! Next time, if Millie is playing again like she was this time I must remember to include two dolls at our baby bath station as there was a bit of fighting for the baby going on!

Materials:

Box (with soapy water inside)

Baby Doll

A towel

Baby washing items (flannel, sponge, cloth etc)

Bath toys (rubber ducks etc)

Additional Items – Nappy, talc, baby lotion etc – optional

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Homemade Foam

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foam1Oscar is a big fan of messy play and sensory activities and loves nothing more than covering himself in whatever we have been playing with; homemade paint, jelly and our latest messy play ingredient; homemade foam!

The foam is really quick to make and gave Oscar loads of entertainment from playing with his under the sea animals in it to covering himself in green foam! But as its only washing up liquid, a quick shower after playing easily removed all the foam from Oscar’s body.

You can use just the foam in the sensory box as its just as much fun on its own, you could even make a variety of colours of it or you could add some plastic toys such as animals and toy people or some kitchen utensils like spoons and bowls. The possibilities are endless! Quick to make and lots of fun to play with!

What you need:

1/3 cup washing up liquid (we used Fairy Liquid)

1/3 water

1 tbsp cornstarch

food colouring

How to make it:

  • Mix 1/3 cup water with 1/3 cup washing up liquid.
  • Add your desired food colouring along with the cornstarch.
  • Mix in a blender for about 3 minutes.
  • Pour out of blender into a plastic box ready for playing.

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Baby-safe Cloud Dough

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cloud1As you may have seen on our recent posts I have started including Millie in our sensory play activities now she is getting older. A few days ago I began making a batch of one of Oscar’s favourite sensory play activities; cloud dough, when I thought I could make it ‘baby-safe’ and have Millie play with it too. I usually make our cloud dough with baby oil as I love the smell of it when we play with it and it also leaves both mine and Oscar’s skin really smooth after playing with it! But obviously, as Millie is only 9 months old I knew she would put some of the cloud dough in her mouth (as everything goes in there lately!) and baby oil isn’t safe to eat. So I decided to swap our baby oil for olive oil (vegetable oil would work too) to make it an ‘edible’ activity for Millie.

I made the cloud dough during their nap time ready to play with when they woke up.  I actually made half of our usual cloud recipe as we are travelling soon and have been using up our food supplies I didn’t have enough flour in to make a full batch but it was actually plenty for Oscar and Millie to play with. Millie enjoyed tasting it (of course) and feeling it between her hands (and legs and feet!) and as I put a few sand toys in the box, Oscar enjoyed making some ‘pancakes’ and ‘ice creams’ for me and Millie.

What you need:

4 cups flour

1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

How to make it:

In a bowl simply mix together the flour and oil until it combines. The texture should look like you are going to make pastry but it you sqeeze it together then you will see how it comes together and holds its shape.

*We usually double this recipe when playing with our cloud dough so I would recommend 8 cups flour and 1 cup oil if you want a decent amount of cloud dough but if your child is a young baby then the 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup oil is enough for them to play with.

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Chocolate Chip Maths

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mathchipThis is an activity we did a while back but I am only getting chance to blog about it now. I saw this idea via a friend on Instagram (Thanks Amy!).

I set up a cupcake case tray with the numbers 1-6 and emptied some chocolate chips into a bowl. I then showed Oscar the numbers and he repeated the numbers back to me. He is really good at counting but we are still working on recognising the written number. We did a little practice of ‘what number is that?’ with me pointing to each number and then Oscar began counting out his chocolate chips into the correctly numbered case. A great activity that takes a minute to set-up but also makes them ‘work’ for their snack and learn at the same time. We used dark chocolate chips for our snack but you could opt for a healthier alternative like dried fruits or plain nuts.

What you need:

Cupcake  tray

Numbered stickers or paper

Snack to count (chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, sweets etc)

What to do:

  • Place numbered stickers or paper into your cupcake tin
  • Pour snack into a bowl.
  • Ask your child to count out the desired snack into the correct numbered case.
  • Enjoy the snack!

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Homemade Quicksand

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quicksand1After receiving my weekly email from Growing a Jeweled Rose (one of my favourite blogs for kids and baby activities!) I just knew I had to try making this quicksand for Oscar, especially as he recently received a sand and water table with the play sand required for this recipe for his birthday.

I was a bit concerned before starting this recipe as it seemed too cool! I thought it would be a disaster and not turn out for us, but I was wrong! On Growing a Jeweled Rose, she used tempura paint in her recipe and it became a play dough like mixture whereas we used our normal Early Learning Centre paint and it was more pastry like, but once we added our water and brought the mixture together, it was exactly as she described – when being played with it is play dough like but if it is left then it melts just like quicksand! I highly recommend trying this recipe out – Oscar played for over an hour with ours! First he was content exploring the mixture – moulding it into balls and watching it melt away and then he brought his toy animals in to play and was trying to rescue them from sinking….along with his Early Learning Centre Happyland people!

What you need:

1 cup play sand

1 cup corn starch

washable paint (we used yellow)

water

How to make it:

  • Mix the play sand and corn starch in a bowl.
  • Slowly add the paint (we added it for colour, as our texture didn’t change THAT much no matter how much paint we added, however on Growing a Jeweled Rose she states to add the paint until you reach the desired consistancy – like play dough)
  • Add a little water at each time and bring the mixture together (on Growing a Jeweled Rose, she only wet her hands and her mixture was ready however we needed more water to bring our mixture together – I think it may have been the type of paint we used)
  • When the dough is played with it is mouldable and play dough like however when your hands are still or the mixture is left alone, it melts just like quicksand! Pick it up again, and you have a mouldable dough! Lots of fun!!

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Oats and Water Sensory Play

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oats1Now that Millie is able to sit up alone and is much more interested in things around her, I have started doing lots of activities that both Oscar and Millie can get involved with. Obviously at 8 months old, Millie is still at an age were EVERYTHING goes in her mouth so lots of our playtime has to be edible if I intend on Millie playing with us – just to be on the safe side! Over the past few weeks we have played with water, ice, made some paint with flour, made sensory bottles and our latest activity was a simple oats and water sensory box.

I set this activity up within 5 minutes whilst Oscar and Millie were playing in the living room with my husband. I simply poured my desired amount of oats into my plastic box and then added enough water to make it as you would eat it – not too runny but wet enough! I popped the box onto the floor with a towel and added a few plates, bowls and different sized spoons. I thought Millie would be content with exploring the texture of the oats (as well eating some most probably!) and Oscar would like a few spoons and bowls to make it a bit more interesting for him. Oscar really enjoys doing these types of activities with Millie, I guess he feels like he has a little friend playing with him and Millie thinks everything he does is hilarious anyway so I knew they would both loving playing with the oats box together.

When I called them into the kitchen to play, Oscar dove straight in and began pouring the oats mixture into different bowls and plates saying he had made some pancakes, cereal and then went onto to making some spaghetti for me too! Millie surprisingly went straight for the spoon and started trying to feed herself the bit of oats that were on the spoon! She then threw it down and dove straight into the box of oats squeezing the mixture between her hands and placing her hands close to her face to explore the mixture some more. She then started eating some – good job it was edible! They played really well together, and Oscar enjoyed making some ‘food’ for Millie to explore in different bowls and plates whilst she enjoyed sneaking a little taste of it! They played for more than half an hour with just some oats and water – result!

What you need:

Oats

Water

Box

Spoons/Bowls/Plates etc

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