Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Ornament Scooping | Holiday Sensory Ideas for Toddlers

Are you looking for Christmas sensory play activities? 

Make an Ornament Scooping bin! Your kids will thank you! Stick with me while I explain why.

RELATED: Did you know this ornament scooping bin is one of the activities in our 25 Days of Christmas Advent ebook? Check out the other activities and purchase the ebook here.

Sensory activities are so important for toddlers, preschoolers, and even adults! There are so many skills you can learn from these simple activities.

There are at least 6 skills that I think are the most important ones for toddlers to learn (You can read all 6 skills for toddlers here) and so many of them can be taught when kids are exploring with their senses using sensory bins.  

What are the benefits of sensory play?

Similar to when you pull out playdough for sensory play, sensory activities like this ornament scooping game help teach kids things like...

  • self control
  • stress relief
  • imagination
  • hand-eye coordination
  • fine motor skills
  • social skills
  • language skills
  • and more!

Let's try out the activity and then I'll explain some of these a little bit more.

Ornament Scooping Sensory Bin 

Here's what you need to get started...

  • 2 large plastic containers
  • Plastic ornaments (Dollar store!)
  • Ladle
  • Slotted spoon
  • Water
  • Green food coloring
  • Vinyl tablecloth (optional)

Prep Ahead

  • Fill up one container with water (about 2/3rds full)
  • Add in a few drops of food coloring
  • Stir around
  • Drop some plastic ornaments and ladles/slotted spoons into the bin

Start Scooping!

This part really needs no instruction. Kids can just scoop the water and the ornaments out of one bin and put them into the other bin.

This is called a transfer activity. Kids can develop and refine their fine motor skills through activities like these!

RELATED: Check out these 10 easy sensory fine motor sensory bins for toddlers

As kids scoop and transfer the ornaments, they do several things, such as

  • Exploring cause and effect. 
  • Building their muscles.
  • Scooping and pouring with accuracy
  • Learning about hand dominance
  • Developing their grasps (as they hold the ladle)
  • And more!

How do I keep sensory play tidy?

Sensory play can sometimes get a bad rap. People picture kids throwing water and rice and making a giant mess.

This can totally happen. 

But it is all about how you set up the activity and the guidelines you give BEFORE you get started (and enforce throughout).

If you're worried about keeping sensory play tidy, here are some things to remember:

1. It probably won't be as tidy as you hoped. Plan for a mess. Remember that kids are learning and exploring, so it's ok if things don't look picture perfect.

2. Put something under your bins! I love using a large vinyl tablecloth with a felt padded back. It is cozier to sit on. It also helps contain the mess a bit. With water activities like this one, I also bring several towels over.

3. Set the kids up for success. Explain and show them what your expectations and rules are for the sensory playtime. Show them how to keep things inside the bins.

4. If all else fails, take it outside. It is less stressful when a mess is outside.

5. Be prepared to enforce your rules and remove a sensory bin if a child isn't following the rules. I usually just put the bin away for a little bit if kids aren't listening or are being purposely destructive.

What are some other Christmas sensory activities for toddlers?

I love sensory activities, especially around Christmas time! Here are a few Christmas sensory favorites we love.

For Day 3 of our #HandsOnChristmas series with Jenae from I Can Teach My Child, we're sharing some easy Christmas sensory play ideas! 

If you missed any of our activities, Go here to check them out.

Once you try this, come and let me know how it goes! It is always a hit over here... and I think it's mostly because kids think it is so cool to play with water!

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