Play Dough Mats – Alphabet

Play dough mats are a great way to manipulate dough into shapes and also learn a little bit during the process. They’re a great activity for kids who like to learn with their sense of touch. Here is a printable for you with letters of the alphabet and numbers!

alphabet play dough mats - grab your free set here!

I don’t know about you, but my kids love play dough. They love to push and pull the dough to manipulate it into shapes they like. I think most of the time they don’t even have an end game in mind and that’s ok!

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Sensory Bin Tools to Keep on Hand

Ah, sensory play! Most people don’t realize how easy it really is, especially if you keep a handful of sensory bin tools on hand. Here is a great list of sensory bin tools that are easily accessible (you probably have most of them already) and can work in many different types of sensory bins for many different ages.

the best sensory bin tools to keep on hand for sensory play

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and purchase the item or anything else in that shopping trip, I will receive a small amount of money at no extra cost to you.

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Sensory Balloons

Sensory balloons – otherwise known as stress balls – are a great addition to sensory play. You can mold, squish and manipulate them. I love when my kids bust them out because they’re a great stress reliever for me, too!

dollar store sensory balloons with close up of child's hand

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We’ve done sensory bins and we’ve done sensory bottles. I love sensory activities (obviously) so I wanted to keep going.

If you search on Pinterest, these can be called “sensory balls.” I couldn’t bring myself to call them that – because I’m 10 years old.

Anywho, I bring you Sensory Balloons.

Like most of my activities, you can find these contents at the dollar store (The Dollar Tree, to be exact.)

latex balloons used for sensory balloons

If you check out my other post about sensory bin filler ideas, a lot of those little things can be put into balloons for sensory balloons. Here’s what we chose:

*Black beans
*Cloud dough
*Play doh
*Rice
*Water beads

You also should grab a funnel because it will help you a lot – trying to do this without one is pretty frustrating. Just make sure you grab a funnel with a big enough hole for the beans.

child's hand filling a balloon with beans for sensory balloons

The beans, cloud dough and rice went in best in small amounts. The play doh we just rolled into “snakes” (or, if you’re 10 years old like me, poop) and dropped them into the balloon. When they startΒ  to reach the top, blow up the balloon a little and then let the air out. Smush all the play-doh together at the bottom of the balloon. Then keep adding.

Keep your kids busy and get some quiet time for yourself! Download my sensory play activity guide now!

The water bead one was done one by one, but that’s only because I didn’t have a funnel near me and I’m lazy πŸ˜‰

Dylan also wanted to make faces on his and who am I to tell him no? Go to town, bud.

green sensory balloon with a face drawn on it

I think I might actually make a few to sit at my desk – they are good stress relievers.

This little lady ran off with them while I was trying to snap some pictures. Trouble written all over her face. Don’t let her fool you.

smiling child running off with sensory balloons

If you try these out, please let me know in the comments!

And as always with my activities, please be smart πŸ™‚ After I filled the balloon, I put it inside another balloon to be extra safe.

 

Sensory Bin Ideas – All From The Dollar Store

Sensory bins are our go-to in our house. They’re so easy and they keep your kids so busy! Bonus – they can also be very inexpensive.

Sensory bins are life.

The Dollar Tree is also life. That is always my go-to when I need stuff (that they sell). My friends usually come to me first when they wonder if The Dollar Tree sells something in particular. What can I say? I’m cheap and everyone knows it.

I did a post a while back with sensory bins. I went through the aisles of The Dollar Tree and grabbed anything I could find that I thought would be good in a sensory bin. Thus, my first sensory bin post was born. And I can’t look back on it anymore because it makes me so sad to see D’s chubby little toddler hands! WAHHHH!

I also did some sensory bottles for the babe when she was tiny. We actually still use them!

You can also find the bins from The Dollar Tree – this is what I use

I had on my list to make a big giant list of all things sensory (and you can download the printable list at the end) so people can keep it on them and take it out when you need to. It’s a whole list of sensory bin ideas. You can take anything from column A (fillers) and add it to anything in column B (tools/toys). And they are all available at The Dollar Tree! (disclaimer, they are all available at MY Dollar Tree in Villa Park, Illinois) πŸ˜‰

Keep your kids busy and get some quiet time for yourself! Download my sensory play activity guide now!

Here we go!

Column A

*Decorative shred
*Sand
*Rocks/pebbles
*Balloons
*Crepe paper
*Buttons
*Cut up drinking straws
*Pipe cleaners
*Tissue paper
*Rice
*Pasta
*Dirt
*Clean mud (shredded bar soap, torn up
toilet paper and water)
*Water beads
*Shaving cream (will need new each time)
*Hair gel
*Popcorn kernels
*Dry beans
*Wrapping paper
*Salt (table, sea or
Epsom)
*Play-doh
*Tinsel/garland
*Battery powered Christmas lights (seasonal)
*Pom poms
*Fake leaves (seasonal)
*Feathers
*Easter grass (seasonal)
*Marbles (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Pony beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*ABC beads (NOT FOR LITTLES!)
*Raffia cord
*Ribbon
*Cotton balls
*Bird seed
*Foam shapes/letters
*Oatmeal
*Construction paper
*Soapy water
*Fake snow
*Coffee grounds
*Dry cereal
*Baby oil
*Yarn
*Googly eyes
*Frozen veggies

Column B (tools/toys)

*Fake flowers
*Measuring cups
*Measuring spoons
*Cars
*Spatula
*Silicone pasty brush
*Serving spoons
*Nesting bowls
*Fork/knife/spoon (play versions)
*Plastic food
*Chalk
*Kid scissors
*Cups
*Party favor cups
*Magnet letters
*Fake money
*Stickers
*Plastic bugs
*Plastic snakes
*Easter eggs (seasonal)
*Rubber ducks
*Ice cubes
*Plates
*Baby bottles
*Socks
*Tweezers
*Toothbrushes
*Toothpicks
*Small ceramic pots (seasonal)
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Potato masher
*Sand toys (seasonal)
*Large blocks
*Gardening tools (seasonal)
*Superhero/Disney figures
*Dinosaurs
*Funnels
*Whisk
*Sponges
*Cookie cutters
*Small plastic storage containers
*Slotted spoon
*Tongs
*Water balloons (seasonal)
*Cleaning brushes

If you’re ready for more education at home activities, you can find them here.

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I had way too much fun creating all of that! Use your noggin when it comes to things that are age appropriate, alright? alright. Have fun!

Sensory Bottles from The Dollar Store

Sensory bottles are amazing toys for infants learning about hand eye coordination and discovering the world around them. These bottles can all be made from items at the dollar store and their thin design is perfect for little hands.
Sensory bottles from the Dollar store
Sensory bottles are a great way to keep tiny items contained while little hands explore them and make lots of noises.

We went on a road trip to visit my brother in Colorado one summer when my daughter was about 10 months old. She did okay in the car so I had high hopes for her!

Well, she was worse. She was so over being in the car and I don’t blame her. I normally don’t mind the car but, like her, I just wanted out. On one leg of the trip she was so mad. We handed her a Sparkling Ice water bottle (because my 13 year old brother is obsessed with them) and it kept her busy for a (relatively) long time. The size was perfect for her and she could fit her hands around it. So I got an idea!

Sensory bottles
5 sensory bottles lined up

I asked my mom and brother (which basically means my mom) to start saving them for me. Remember last summer I did a blog post on some sensory bins for Dylan before the baby came? Well I have been meaning to make sensory bottles for Reagan and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

I took a trip to my beloved Dollar Tree with the small opening of the bottles in mind. Off the shelves, I grabbed googly eyes, sand, small rocks, marbles, baby shampoo, rice, pasta, pony beads, hot glue gun sticks (glitter glue), alphabet beads, beans, vegetable oil…I was like a kid in a candy store! Which is basically a DIY blogger in the Dollar Store. Or Hobby Lobby.

Oh, full disclosure, I am not sure if you can get food coloring at the Dollar Tree – I don’t think you can. I colored my water with food coloring that I already had at home.

When I started work on them, I took the labels off first. It is much easier to clean if you tear them off in one piece. You are going to have some sticky residue left over, so I used nail polish remover with a cotton pad and then when that dried, I used coconut oil to get the rest of it. Some of it was super stubborn and didn’t all come off, but it wasn’t sticky anymore and that’s all that really mattered to me.

When you’re at the Dollar Tree, for the love of all that is Holy, please buy a funnel. It will save your sanity. You can get them in a pack of 3 for (yep, you guessed it), $1. πŸ˜‰

Here is what I put into my sensory bottles. You can mix and match any of those items. I focused on sound for these for Reagan because she loves to make noise.

Sensory Bottles Shopping List

  • Dry pasta
  • Alphabet beads
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • Glitter
  • Colored sand
  • Food coloring
  • Baby oil
  • Glass beads/marbles
  • Dry rice
  • Pony beads
  • Colored rocks/gravel
  • Baby shampoo
  • Water
  • Empty water bottles
All 9 sensory bottles lined up to show their contents

Here they are, from left to right:

-Pasta and alphabet beads
This one is great for both kids because Dylan can tell me which letters he sees while they are playing with it together.

sensory bottle with dry pasta and alphabet beads

-Water and hot glitter glue
I loaded up my hot glue gun (every house should have one of these. They should come standard in tool kits) with the glitter glue sticks and melted it onto my silicone craft mat in different shapes and sizes. Once they were cooled off, I peeled them off of the craft mat and popped them into the sensory bottle (yes, I realize they resemble sperm).

sensory bottle with water and hot glue designs

-Water, food coloring, baby oil and glitter.
The water, oil and glitter all separate but look super cool when you shake it.

sensory bottle with blue water and gold glitter

-Black craft sand and googly eyes.
This one is really cool for Halloween! She loves the sound this one makes.

sensory bottle with black sand and googly eyes

-Water, food coloring and marbles.
This one is kind of heavy which is nice because it gives it another sensory experience. It makes a lot of noise and is fun to watch.

sensory bottle with yellow water and glass beads

-Dry rice and pony beads
Very colorful and makes a cool, loud noise!

sensory bottle with rice and colorful pony beads

-Water, food coloring and baby oil
The baby oil and food coloring separate nicely and like the first bottle, it looks really cool when you shake it up.

sensory bottle with water, food coloring and baby oil

-Colored rocks, water and food coloring.
This one also is heavy which is nice and makes a loud noise. It looks cool when you roll it, too!

sensory bottle with pink water and green rocks

-Water, food coloring and baby shampoo.
When it’s not shaken up, this one just looks like plain old pink water. But when you shake it, it creates a really cool lather in there.

Pink sensory bottle with soapy water

You can also dye the pasta and rice (I have a tutorial here) you are adding to the sensory bottles if you are feeling super creative. You can alter these to your children’s ages. More letters for older kids, less colors for super young babies. Like most of my projects, have fun with it!

Looking for more sensory activities? Check out all of my education at home posts here.

Update (2 years later) – I am STILL spotting my kids playing with these during the day. We still use them!

 

 

2 Ingredient Moon Sand

2 Ingredient moon sand is so ridiculously easy – much like most of my activities you can find here! You probably have the ingredients on hand and it can be made in seconds. Give your kiddo a bowl of it and let them go to town!
2 ingredient sensory moon sand

Ohhh sensory play. Sweet, sweet sensory play.

Just when I think I am going to do an activity that does not involve sensory play, something comes to mind from when I was teaching. And I can’t. Pull. Away.

When we played with this stuff, Dylan of course turned it into good guys and bad guys (because he’s a boy. And 4 years old). But he asked me to help him roll them into balls so he could cut them open with the plastic utensils I gave him. He also really enjoyed making it with me. He loves to measure things out and count with me. He especially loves pouring the ingredients into the bowl.
baby playing with sensory moon sand Close up of child playing with moon sand in a glass bowl with plastic utensils

Please pay no attention to our outfit choice. He woke up wet so he was running around in a shirt and new dry underwear. I told him if he wanted to go outside, he had to put pants on. So he kept his pajama shirt on. Whatever.

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Something that he mentioned during this one though that he never has was how it smelled. I think he really enjoyed the baby oil smell. I also added a few drops of a “Cheer Up Buttercup” essential oil blend. It smelled really good with the baby oil.

We were watching my mom’s dog and my sister’s dog when we did this activity. My mom’s dog really loved eating it. Like, really loved eating it. It was gross. I had to put him inside because he was having way too much fun eating this flour. He’s a strange, strange dog that will pretty much eat anything and will fight you for it. Actually, he’s a lot like Reagan.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baby oil
  • Few drops of essential oil (optional)

Mix everything together with a spoon or your hands. I found it a lot easier to control with my hands. If you need it to be a little more wet, just add more baby oil.
Close up of child playing with 2 ingredient moon sand

Reagan snacked on it also. I don’t recommend this. I kept taking it out of her mouth and trying to redirect her but it was a lost cause.
smiling baby with moon sand on her face because she tried to eat it

I promptly took it away and she got a sippy cup instead.Β  Obviously she’s bothered by it.

This was the aftermath – definitely an outside activity.
bird's eye view of a glass bowl of moon sand