Valentine Sensory Play
I have always had a thing for Valentine's Day. I'm not sure if it's because I remember how excited I'd get to pick out and sign all my valentines for school growing up, or if I'm just a sucker for all of the lovey-dovey heart business. I think part of it also comes from having taught preschool and kindergarten... I love a good theme. I was always able to find the best art projects, read alouds, and hands-on activities when they were revolved around some sort of holiday or theme. Valentine's Day was one of those gold-mine themes.
Winter has been long... agree? There have been several days of below zero temperatures and snowy/icy roads that have prohibited us from being able to leave the house. This has challenged me to get creative in coming up with ways to keep my [recently very mobile] little one entertained. Some days I'm more on my game than others. Some days we ride around the house on blankets and pull post-it notes off the walls and it just is what it is. Thankfully, as we approach Valentine's Day, my creative juices are flowing a little more and we get to do some more holiday theme-based activities.
Not to derail off topic [it connects, I promise], but have you ever put food near something non-edible and had it take on a subtle hint of flavor from that non-edible item? When we moved to Minnesota, we obviously could not pack all of the food that we had in our pantry unless it was considered "non-perishable." One of the non-perishables that we decided to pack in a box was our rice. Now, whoever's brilliant idea it was to pack it in the same box as our cleaning supplies [probably mine, #mombrain], really just wasn't thinking. When we made rice for the first time in Minnesota, it tasted just the slightest bit like chemicals [yum]. We ate it and lived to tell about it, but needless to say we weren't going to be cooking with that rice anymore. So! I used it for some Valentine sensory play instead [aaannndd connection].
I dumped what was left of the uncooked rice into a small, clear, plastic tub. This size tub works really well for my little one at only 9 months old. You would probably want to use more rice, and a bigger tub for bigger kiddos. There are so many different things you can put in a tub with rice for littles to explore but I will just share what I threw in our tub this day.
A. These are just little red blocks that came in a package with other wooden blocks of different shapes and colors from the beloved dollar section at Target.
B. These felt hearts also came from Target. I believe they were in the crafting section. You could easily cut your own hearts out of felt, foam, or any other materials you have kicking around. Kade has been carrying these around with him all over the house. I think he likes that he can stick his little fingers in the hole and get a really good grip on them. Plus they are a fun, new texture for him.
C. These are plastic cookie cutters! Cookie cutters are always a hit in a sensory tub. They come in lots of different shapes, colors, and sizes and are great for little hands to grasp. These specific cookie cutters were from... take a guess. If you guessed Target, you're catching on. They were in the Valentine candy/baking section [yes they have a whole section just for that. I love you, Target].
D. This is a little measuring cup/device that we have that just happened to have a nice red rim around the bottom. Measuring cups, spoons, and scoops are all great additions to a sensory tub. Kade, of course, couldn't quite do any scooping or pouring quite yet but he enjoyed watching me scoop and pour the rice as he played.
As you can see... you can toss just about anything red, pink or heart-shaped in a tub with rice and call it a "Valentine Sensory Tub." So easy, and so fun!
I love how the cookie cutters leave shapes in the rice when they get picked up. I also just love that little round head on that little round baby.
I'll bet you're thinking I'm nuts for letting my 9 month old baby play in a tub full of uncooked rice. I've been blessed with a baby whose initial instinct is NOT to put things directly in his mouth. Believe it or not, he didn't attempt to eat a single grain of rice. If you have a [probably more normal] baby, and are worried about them stuffing their face with uncooked rice, you may want to wait until they are a little older to do something like this.
The main thing that Kade wanted to do with this sensory tub was empty it. He started with the objects in the tub... one at a time... and then moved on to the rice. One tiny little handful at a time, he wanted that rice out.
He was loving the noise that the rice made with each handful and of course the way it felt in between his bitty fingers. Yes, this was messy and if I hadn't mentally prepared myself for the mess in advance, it would have given me anxiety. Kade loves watching me vacuum so all's well that ends well.
To make this experience even better, use colored rice! You can read about how I dyed this rice to make it more festive here [coming soon].
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Valentine fun. ;)