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Confession: I'm a pouch lid hoarder...Anyone else with me? I don't know about you but we go through food pouches in this house like crazy, especially in the summer when we are always in the car needing quick and easy snacks on the go. This means we have tons of those little circle tops everywhere!! So this week our #sensorysummer bin is filled with pouch lids!

If you want to gather all of your materials you start, we found almost everything else we needed at Target or on Amazon. Here are all the materials we used: 
**This post contains Amazon affiliate links- 
click on highlighted words to see the products we used and loved!**

Lots of Food Pouch Lids
Colored Cups
Colored Bowls
Lacing String
Sidewalk Chalk
Empty Wipe Tubs
Under Bed Clear Storage Bin
Squirt Guns
 Pouch Lid Sorting:
We started out the week by throwing all the pouch lids I've been hoarding in our under bed clear storage bin with a little bit of water since it was a hot, sunny day.  Then we used this set of colored cups to sort them by color. I added in a few slotted spoons to make scooping and grabbing lids a bit more challenging too.
Pouch Lid Counting:
For this activity I wrote the numbers 1-10 on the ground with sidewalk chalk and placed a colored bowl above each of the numbers.  Madelynn counted out the corresponding number of lids for each one to make a little number line.
  Pouch Lid Stacking:
Next up we did some lid stacking. We had 2 different types of lids in our bin and we experimented with stacking the same type and different types mixed together to see what worked best. Even Miss Aubrey was able to stack a few independently before knocking them down.
 Pouch Lid Patterns:
We haven't worked with patterns much so I did a lot of modeling here to help Madelynn get the concept. I started with a few AB lid patterns and asked her to finish them.  Then I made an AAB pattern for her to finish.  She started to get the idea, but we definitely could use more pattern work!
 Pouch Lid Threading:
Our pouch lids had the perfect size little openings for threading with lacing string.  This was a bit too small for Aubrey's little 1 year old fine motor skills, so I threaded a few for her and tied the ends together.  She had fun sliding the lids back and forth on her "necklace" while Madelynn worked hard to fill her entire string.
 Pouch Lid Number Writing:
For this activity I wrote numbers 1-5 on the ground with sidewalk chalk and Madelynn built each one with lids. Aubrey tried to help too, but mostly drove Madelynn crazy by picking them up and moving them around. Gotta love little sisters right? 
 Pouch Lid Stuffing:
Another thing I just can't seem to toss are those empty wipe containers.  You just never know when you'll need them for some fine motor fun ;)  This activity was simple. Grab, stuff, repeat.  Madelynn made it into a little race to see if she could fill hers faster than Aubrey. I'll let you guess who won...
 Pouch Lid Racing:
For this activity we took all the lids out of our under bed clear storage bin and filled it with water Next, we each picked a color and placed it on one end of the bin.  Then, we used water blaster squirt guns to suck up water and try to spray our lid to the other side. I had to help Aubrey get started but the water blasters we found at Target were super easy to push and spray so she was able to it mostly independently.
 Pouch Lid Art:
This activity was perfectly open ended. I invited the girls to create their own pictures with lids and modeled a few ideas to get them started.  Madelynn made shapes and Aubrey liked filling them in.  They worked together to make a house, sun, cloud, and flower.
 Pouch Lid Rainbow:
Definitely my favorite activity of the week because it just turned out so gorgeous! I drew the lines with chalk for the girls to sort and build this beautiful rainbow.  I really didn't want to take it down when they finished!

Do you have a million pouch lids laying around too? I'd love to hear your creative pouch lid ideas, leave me a message with your favorite way to play!

If you missed our  previous themes, you can catch up here:
Sensory Summer

This summer we are spending a whole week at a time using the same sensory bin full of materials and coming up with different ways to play every day. Next week we will be playing with one of my favorites...CLOUD DOUGH!  Here are the themes and plans coming your way all summer long:

 It's rock week! Do your kids insist on gathering rocks everywhere they go like mine? I mean we literally cannot cross a parking lot without scooping up like 7 little treasures that they just HAVE to have. So we spent all week gathering the piles of rocks laying around our yard and can't wait to find all kinds of ways to play!
If you want to gather all of your materials you start, we found almost everything we needed at Target or on Amazon. Here are all the materials we used: 
(*affiliate links included for your convenience)

Rock Washing:
We started out the week by throwing all the rocks we had laying around in our Under Bed Clear Storage Bin with a little bit of water and dish soap.  Then we got busy washing off all the dirt with sponges, washcloths, and scrub brushes to get them nice and clean for all the fun activities for the week.

Rock Painting with Water:
After washing all the rocks and letting them dry out in the summer sun, we did a little painting..with WATER! I grabbed a big bin of paint brushes and filled a few cups with water then let the girls paint away.  This easy, mess free, taste safe painting was perfect for Madelynn and Aubrey both.

 Rock Painting:
After letting the rocks dry out again, and tucking little sister in bed for nap, we pulled out the tempera paint for some colorful, messy rock painting fun.

 Rock Stacking:
Next up we did some rock stacking. The rocks we had in our bin weren't necessarily flat so this took quite a bit of concentration and patience, but we managed to work together to get quite a few impressive structures built, despite a younger sibling that loves to knock things down. 
 Rock Throwing:
So encouraging small children to throw rocks might not be on the top of my list of good ideas, but we actually had a good time and no one got hurt.  I wanted to recreate the fun of throwing rocks in a pond, but we don't exactly have a pond in our backyard so we used our kiddie pool.  I made sure to lay down some ground rules about staying behind the bowls of rocks when throwing and always watching where you are throwing to be sure no one is in your path.

 Pool Noodle Balance:
With 2 girls we don't have too many of your typical "boy" toys like trucks and construction vehicles, so I try to scoop them up when I see a great deal.  These construction vehicles were perfect for setting up a a rock construction zone. Madelynn loved driving, scooping and building with all the different kinds of vehicles.

Rock Play Dough:
We had quite a few rainy days this week, so we broke out the play dough and played with our rocks inside.  We built faces, castles, shapes, and explored the prints different rocks made when we squished them in the play dough.
 Rock Shapes:
For this activity I drew shapes on the ground with sidewalk chalk and Madelynn built each one with rocks. Aubrey tried to help too, but mostly by throwing rocks in the middle of each shape or by moving rocks from one shape to a new one driving Madelynn crazy. Always an adventure planning activities for 2!
  Rock Counting:
For this activity I wrote the numbers 1-5 on the ground with sidewalk chalk and Madelynn counted out the corresponding number of rocks for each one to make a little number line. I drew the circles so little Aubrey could help too. Even though she's not counting or recognizing numbers yet at least she can practice one to one match.
 Stone Soup:
Finally we had some more water and rock fun with stone soup. All I did was add a set of play dishes to our rock and water filled bin and the girls took over from there.

And that's a wrap on rock week! Do your kids love playing with rocks too? I'd love to hear your creative ideas for rock play, leave me a message with your favorite way to play!

If you missed my previous post, this summer we are spending a whole week at a time using the same sensory bin full of materials and coming up with different ways to play every day. Next week we will be playing with all those plastic pouch lids I've been hoarding ;)  Here are our themes and plans coming your way all summer long:

I remember as a kid we literally were not allowed inside the house except to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom in the summertime. Here in Wisconsin we only get a few months of truly hot summery weather so we really have to make the most of every minute outside while we can.  In order to keep my girls sufficiently entertained outside for hours on end while I relax in the sun sipping margaritas ice water, I planned a sensory summer full of fun. Each week we will have a new sensory bin full of materials that we will use every day. We will be coming up with tons of different ways to use the materials all week long, keeping things new and fresh. Here is our line up of sensory materials, subject to change ;)

Alright lets get into what we did this week with pool noodles!

If you want to get all your ducks in a row before you start, we found almost everything we needed at Target (because you know I live there) or on Amazon (because I shop there when Target is closed at 2 in the morning when I can't sleep and Amazon Prime is life) Here are all the materials we used: 
(*affiliate links included for your convenience)

Foam Pool Noodles (cut into 1 inch pieces or so)

 Pool Noodle Stacking:
We started out the week by throwing all the cut up noodles in our Under Bed Clear Storage Bin with a little bit of water for splashing.  Then we did some simple stacking.  This is a perfect activity if you have one child that loves to build and a younger sibling that loves to knock things down. We tried stacking all of one color noodle, stacking patterns, counting & stacking, and trying to blow our towers down big bad wolf style.
 Pool Noodle Stamping:
Next, since I found these super fun star shape noodles at Target, I thought it would be fun to try stamping with them.  We got the noodle bits wet in the bin, then stamped away before the sun made the shapes disappear. It took a bit of practice and just the right amount of water, to get the shapes to come out clearly which was a great experiment for Miss Madelynn.
 Pool Noodle Sorting:

Whenever I have different colored or shaped objects I always have to fit in a sorting activity. Aubrey's job was to find (and taste!) the red circles, while Madelynn found all the blue stars. We used these Small Metal Beverage Tubs I found in the Target Dollar Spot for our sorting bins.

 Pool Noodle Swimming:

This week was H-O-T here so swimming was definitely on our daily agenda. We threw all the noodles in our Kiddie Pool and the girls played and splashed all afternoon.

Pool Noodle Balance:

Madelynn loves drawing trails with chalk to run or ride her bike on, so I created a trail for her with our noodle nuggets and had her try to walk across them like stepping stones.  This was pretty tricky because they squish a little bit under your weight, but it was totally fun. We tried a single trail and a double trail with blue for the left foot only and red for the right foot only.
Pool Noodle Threading:

Our pool noodles fit perfect over the handle of our jump rope which meant a great opportunity to introduce threading to little Aubrey.  The extra large scale made it easy for her to be successful in her attempts. The girls worked together to fill the whole jump rope, then Madelynn insisted on tying it off so I could wear it as a necklace, haha.
 Pool Noodle Fishing:

After some more more pool noodle swimming we broke out our bug catcher nets and went fishing for pool noodles.  These girls loved trying to catch them all and could definitely get a job skimming pools for the summer ;)
 Pool Noodle Bubbles:

Okay guys, this is seriously the coolest activity we did all week! We discovered that we could use our cut up pool noodles for blowing bubbles! Just pour some bubbles in a tray, dip and blow! Totally blew my mind...see what I did there.;)
Pool Noodle Building:

To up our tower building game, I broke out the Mr. Bubble Foam Soap and we used it to stick our noodles together.  This helped us stack and build all sorts of new creations and have a little messy fun.
Pool Noodle Writing:

And last, I wrote Madelynn's name on the ground with sidewalk chalk and she built each letter with noodles.

Whew! Our week was packed full of fun, but at the same time it was pretty easy and stress free for me since we used one bin all week. I'd love to hear your creative ideas for pool noodle play, leave me a message with your favorite way to play!

See you next week when we explore, play, learn and get messy with rocks!

I kind of can't believe it but we just wrapped up our FINAL week of tot school! I've had so much fun coming up with and sharing 30+ themes worth of ideas, activities and fun with you all since September. 

So where do we go from here? I don't know about you but my summer calendar is already PACKED with classes, story times, pool dates, and dance recitals so we are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled tot school activities. But don't you worry I'm not going anywhere ;)

For the next 10 weeks, We will be using 1 sensory bin for the entire week and finding new ways to play each day. Miss Madelynn is now 3 1/2 and Aubrey just turned 1 (and she is SOOO ready to get in on the fun,) so my challenge is going to be finding materials that M is super excited about that A can safely play with too (i.e. no choking hazards and all taste safe.) I can't wait to share lots of ways to explore our Sensory Summer Bins.

For now let's get into all the ice cream themed fun we had over the last week!
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for Ice Cream Week:

And here is what we actually did:

Our favorite Ice Cream books for the week were:
Izzy the Ice Cream Fairy By Tim Bugbird
Ice Cream: The Full Scoop By Gail Gibbons
The Ice Cream King By Steve Metzger

 Ice Cream Writing Tray:
Last week's sand writing tray was a big hit, so this week I changed it up to match our ice cream theme by filling the tray with sprinkles and adding some ice cream scoop letter cards. We used our finger but I thought it would also be fun to use a sugar cone for writing if you have one with a point at the bottom!
 Ice Cream Counting:
I whipped up some simple counting cards for this activity with the numbers 1-10 on each cone. Then I gave Madelynn a tub of cut up straw "sprinkles" and a pair of fine motor tweezers. Then she practiced counting out the correct number of sprinkles for each cone.
Puffy Paint Ice Cream:
To prep this activity I cut out a triangle for the cone from construction paper. Then I mixed up 2 batches of shaving cream puffy paint by mixing equal parts shaving cream and white glue. I left one batch white, and dyed the other batch pink with a few drops of liquid watercolors.  Then Madelynn painted her two ice cream scoops and added some real sprinkles while the paint was still wet.
 Ice Cream Stamping:
Did you know dot stampers make the perfect ice cream scoops? For this little project I cut out tiny triangle cones from construction paper, then Madelynn stamped scoops, scoops, and more scoops on top of each cone.
Ice Cream Felt Board:
It's been a while since I made a new felt set so our ice cream theme gave me the perfect inspiration to get some more use out of out felt board.  I first cut out a bunch of brown triangles for cones. Next I cut scoop shapes from cream, pink, brown, and light blue felt.  Then I cut small cherry pieces from red felt. Finally, I used the scraps of felt I had left to cut small rectangles for sprinkles.  Madelynn loved setting up and playing with her own little ice cream shop!
Ice Cream in a Bag:
Have you ever made ice cream in a bag? We tried it for the first time and I was SHOCKED at how easy and delicious it was! I have a feeling we'll be doing this lots this summer. This was also a great way to combine our gross motor and snack activities into one! Here is the recipe:

1. Mix 3 cups crushed ice and 1/3 cup salt in a gallon freezer bag.
2. Mix 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 1 Tbsp sugar in sandwich bag.
3. Drop the small bag inside the large bag and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!
**Wear gloves the bag will get really cold **
4. After about 5 minutes take the small bag out and enjoy, yum! 
 Catch the Scoops:
For this gross motor game, I created a cone from a large sheet of brown construction paper. Then I tossed ball pit balls into the air for Madelynn to catch.
 Ice Cream Relay:
For this game I set up 2 bins on either side of the yard. On one end I filled the bin with ball pit ball "ice cream scoops" and toy ice cream cones.  Then Madelynn tried to balance each ball on a cone and carry it to the other bin.
 Ice Cream Cone Toss:
To prep this carnival style game, I hot glued 6 cake cones into an empty cardboard box. Madelynn tossed ping pong balls into the box trying to make one in each cone.
 Ice Cream Theme Snacks:
Waffle Ice Cream - Cut a waffle into a cone shape. Use a can of whipped cream to make a large dollop on top for ice cream. Dip the waffle into the whipped cream and enjoy!

Ice Cream Cake Cones - Stand cake cones up in a cupcake tin. Make your favorite cake batter (I used a box of Funfetti). Pour the batter into each of the cake cones. Bake as directed. Cool and ice each cone.

Frozen Strawberry Banana Ice Cream - Peel and freeze 4 bananas and 1 lb of strawberries.  Place frozen fruit into a food processor and blend. Serve immediately or place in the freezer to set for a few minutes. 

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich - Scoop vanilla ice cream onto one graham cracker.  Place another graham cracker on top and squish together. Roll the sides in sprinkles.
 Ice Cream Scoop Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Cotton balls, toy ice cream cones, scoops, spoons, and bowls  
 Ice Cream Sundae Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Cotton balls, red pom poms, rainbow rice sprinkles, toy ice cream scoops, spoons, and bowls  
  Ice Cream Play Dough Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Funfetti playdough, buckets, sand toy ice cream set

This ice cream play dough is seriously amazing. It smells delicious and actually scoops like real ice cream! Best of all it is taste safe so even your littlest kiddos can play without any worry. 
Here's the super simple recipe:
-1 cup funfetti frosting (white or colored)
-About 3 cups powdered sugar

1. Mix in a stand mixer, adding powdered sugar gradually. 
2. Add a bit more or less sugar until your dough isn't sticky. 

That's it! I  used the pre-colored pink frosting for our "strawberry" so I didn't have to mess with food coloring. So easy!

Ice Cream Scooping Sensory Bin:

And that's a wrap for Tot School 2016-2017! Stay tuned for our Sensory Summer Play Ideas. 

Many of you have asked where you can find all of our Tot School plans and printables, and I promise they are coming soon! I am working on compiling all of them into one easy download that should be available in the next month or so. You can follow my Teachers pay Teachers store or subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when it is ready. Thanks so much for following along!

And if you want to catch up on our past Tot School Plans, you can find them all here:











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