Tag: winter

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Are you looking for a fun Valentine’s Day activity for your kids that doesn’t require glue or glitter? I learned a long time ago that I am not a crafty mom, but I am more than willing to set up open-ended play ideas for my kids! Sensory play has been a wonderful way for our girls to explore new tactile materials over the years. This simple Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin combines smooth textures and lots of opportunities for fine motor play and math discovery.

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I’m usually not a big fan of using rice because cleanup can be a giant pain. However, the varied colors in this Valentine’s Day sensory bin make it worth it! For this sensory filler, I left 1/3 of the rice white, and split the rest into two colors: pink and red. The best part of using colored rice is adding fun accessories like funnels and jars. The sound of rice filling up a glass jar is a wonderful sensory experience for all ages!

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

You can extend the play of this Valentine’s Day sensory bin by changing out the accessories every week or so. We love using heart gems from dollar stores and ice cube trays to practice one-to-one correspondence (counting). We also have gathered these items:

  • red cups (these are our favorite)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (we have had these for years)
  • and a stainless steel bowl, funnel, and jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also add magnetic letters or small heart-shaped foam stickers with letters written on them (see video below) for a literacy activity.

If you try this Valentine’s Day sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Get four more Valentine’s Day activity ideas to help your child build attention span and independent play skills.

Just add your information below to get instant access to our FREE Valentine’s Day Invitations to Play download!

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”
“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock…”
“I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells, oh!”

Christmas is on its way, and our toddlers and preschoolers could not be more excited! But trying to keep their little hands away from the Christmas tree might be a full-time job, and that’s why I love bringing out engaging activities like playdough and sensory bins. This jingle bell sensory bin has been a big hit at our house, and it might be simpler than you might think.

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas | Christmas Sensory Play Ideas, Tactile Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Learning Through Play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I had dyed a bunch of noodles green for St. Patrick’s Day. The variety of textures between the wagon wheels, rotini noodles, and shells is a lot of fun for tactile play. I thought it would make the perfect base for this new jingle bell sensory bin. (And noodles are a LOT easier to clean up than rice, which was the base of our last sensory bin!)

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas | Christmas Sensory Play Ideas, Tactile Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Learning Through Play

We have a set of multicolored bells (similar) that are a great size for my 6-year-old’s hands. I also added a few extra accessories to the bin:

  • green and red cups (these are our favorite)
  • ice cube trays
  • a plastic tablespoon
  • and a jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also work on patterning and fine motor skills with this sensory bin! Place the bells in the ice cube tray (use tweezers, if you like), and then lace the bells on a shoelace or pipe cleaner.

 

If you try this jingle bell sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


30 Winter Activities | Free School Holiday Survival Guide {flourishwithyourfamily.com}

While your kids are home from school this winter, try out this list of 30 “boredom-busting” activities for the whole family!

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!
3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier {FREE Download}

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier {FREE Download}

Hooray, the holidays are here! Having our children home from school (whether it’s fall break, winter break, spring break, or summer break) is a wonderful gift of time and family togetherness. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to go on fun adventures and learn through play. However, school holidays often fall during the time of year when we are inundated with extra activities and a longer-than-usual to-do list.

How do we enjoy the break while still getting things done and keeping our kids learning and happy?

3 Tips to Make School Holidays Easier | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables

Take a Break

It’s important that we build in time for kids (and ourselves!) to relax during school holidays. Getting up early, following a schedule, and doing things we don’t really enjoy can take its toll. Before your kids get out of school, block off a day or a few hours to do absolutely nothing. (YOU TOO!) Snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie, do a puzzle, or take a nap. If you know you’ll have a busy afternoon, take a slow morning. If you have a busy travel schedule, build in a “recovery day” for the entire family.

Offer Choices

Being a student is hard work. Children are told where and how to sit, when to go to the bathroom, when to eat lunch, and more. There are a lot of benefits that come from being part of a larger learning community, but our children also need to learn to self-regulate. Offering our children choices during school holidays can lead to more confidence and cooperation.

When your children are younger, offer them two choices that you like. (Would you like apple slices or applesauce with your lunch?) As they mature, you can give them a more open-ended opportunity to plan their entire lunch–or outfit or schedule, etc.

Designate a Line Leader

Several years ago, I grew tired of listening to my two children bicker constantly. I decided to use one of my tools from the classroom to make things easier on all of us: the line leader. On odd days of the month, my older daughter gets to go first in the shower, up and down the stairs, getting in and of the car, you name it. Our younger daughter gets to be line leader on even days of the month.

It sounds silly, but it can negate one hundred arguments each day. The line leader chooses the vegetable for dinner, who gets to push the cart at the grocery store, who gets dropped off first at AWANA, you name it! And of course, Mom and Dad always get a veto.

30 Winter Activity Ideas for Families | FREE School Holiday Survival Guide at flourishwithyourfamily.com

FREE School Holiday Survival Guide from Rolling Prairie Readers! Get yours at FlourishWithYourFamily.com

School Holidays Survival Guide

Over the years, I have created a handful of printables that make our home life a bit easier. I have bundled them up into a FREE downloadable guide to help your family flourish during the school holidays.

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!
FREE School Holiday Survival Guide | activities for kids, family activities, holidays, raising children, fall, winter, design your day, free printables