Old Mac Donald Had a Farm Sensory Box

Old Mac Donald had a Farm Activity for kids and toddlers
Old Mac Donald had a Farm is a favourite nursery rhyme in our house at the moment and we have read (and sang) the book many times over.
To continue the learning and love of this nursery rhyme, I thought I would set up a fun Sensory Hide and Seek activity. This activity is also provides a learning opportunity that encourages oral language and fine motor development.
Old Mac Donald had a Farm Hide & Seek Sensory Tub involves hiding all the plastic farm animals and characters in the rice and split peas mixture. Then using the mini tongs, searching through the mixture to find and catch each of the farm animals. This is all done while singing Old Mac Donald had a farm.
What you will need?
Invitation to play sensory hide and seek
You will need a large plastic tub, mini tongs, farm animals and characters, rice and yellow split peas.
I have used the rice and split peas for many activities and store them in this container with an air tight lid. This tub of rice and split peas has lasted for over a year and is showing no signs of needing to be thrown out. The life expectancy of the sensory tub will depend on how many children use the tub and the items that added to the tub.
Let’s Play
Hide and Seek Senosry Play Game
Some Ideas:
  • Hide all the farm animals in the rice and split peas mixture. Using the tongs to find and catch them. The first animal to be found, add them into the song Old Mac Donald. For example, when we found a horse, we sang; “…and on that farm he had a horse”.
  • Use your hands, instead of using the tongs to find and catch the farm animals in the rice and split peas.
  • Read a nursery rhyme book and sing Old Mac Donald had a Farm.
  • Talk about what sounds each animal makes.
Let’s Learn
Sensory Games for Kids
Sensory play promotes many learning experiences:
  • Sensory play encourages children to manipulate and mold materials, building up their fine motor skills and coordination.
  • Sensory play uses all 5 senses, but the sense of touch is often the most frequent. Toddlers and children process information through their senses.  They learn through exploring these.
  Benefits of singing nursery rhymes:
  • Develop and extend vocabulary.
  • Rhyme – understanding rhyme in our spoken language helps children learn to read.
  • Rhythm- helps children to remember words and develop auditory memory skills.
  • Phonemic awareness – hearing and understanding that words are made up of individual sounds and other word patterns.
Find more Sensory Activities <HERE>
Sensory Play and Activity Ideas for Kids, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Water Beads and Ice Activities

Water Bead Activities
Water Beads and Ice is an open-ended and hands-on sensory play opportunity.  They are so much fun as they are about the size of a small marble and have a small bounce to them if they are dropped on the floor.  They are soft, squishy and smooth to touch, not slimy at all.
Water beads promote learning and development in areas such as fine motor, coordination, exploration, colours, sensory, and creativity.  Water beads also introduce children to scientific and mathematical concepts such as absorption.  It also promotes scientific thinking skills such as predicting, observations, reasoning and so much more! 
What you will need?
What are water beads
For this play opportunity I set up a small tub filled with ice cubes and water beads.  I was lucky enough to purchase our water beads cheaply at our local craft store but I have also seen them sold on E-bay and in florists.  When purchasing water beads they come in very tiny ball shapes and are hard.  Once you add them to water they become soft, squishy and increase in size.
I later added scoops (measuring cups) to the tub. I originally did not introduce the scoops until a little later as I wanted to my kids to explore first with their hands without any props.  When they were commenting that it was so cold and were starting to rub their hands together, that’s when I introduced the scoops.  This took the play journey to another level and also relief for their hands from the cold ice.
Let’s Play
let's play - water beads and ice
My children spent long periods of time using their hands to search for the beads in the water and ice.  They would gather them up with the ice and tried to melt the ice by rubbing it in their hands.  As the ice melted, there was more water to play with and different size and shape ice cubes.  They loved to collect them up and sort them into colours,  scoop them, pour them, feel them, and gather them in cups.
Let’s Learn
Let's learn- water beads and ice
Learning Opportunities
  • Creativity
  • Fine Motor Development
  • Hand-Eye Coordination and Control
  • Cause and Effect
  • Concentration
  • Spatial awareness – experimenting with shape and space
  • Language development – shape names
  • Mathematics – capacity, measurement
  • Scientific concepts and skills
Find more activities & other ideas : CLICK ON THE IMAGES
Ideas for using ice for sensory play and science
Orange Water Beads 1
Ice Boats
Orange Water Beads
*Please note that even though water beads are non-toxic, they should not be consumed.  As with all activities, children must be supervised at all times. Read more*
Learning 4 kids

Animal Rice Art – It’s Colourful magic!

Today I feel incredibly privileged to share a guest post with you written by a lovely blogging friend of mine, Penny  from Wildlife Fun 4 Kids.  Be sure to visit her fabulous website where you will find so many inspiring ideas, fun activities for kids and so much more!
activity for kids
Children love to touch, they love to play and they especially love magic. This activity extends on one of the activities created here at Learning 4 Kids. It doesn’t take much to prepare but can give your children hours of magical fun (while they learn)!
We are avid followers of Learning 4 Kids. I can’t help getting excited about the activities Janice creates with her children because I know my girls will love each and every one of them. We’ve had fun with the soap slime activity, camping indoors and nature painting, but our favourite so far is the coloured rice! We made a heap of it and tried out all of her suggestions. Then, I had an idea for another extension on this activity and I couldn’t wait to try it out with my girls.
While Miss Possum and the Twinkles were playing with the coloured rice (you can learn to make it here), I grabbed a glue stick from the cupboard and drew an animal on the paper in glue. I quickly handed the paper to Miss Possum and asked her to cover the whole sheet with rice. She looked back at me confused.
rice art
‘There’s a secret picture on there, it’s magic,’ I said.
‘Oooooh,’ she responded, and her quick little fingers started to cover the paper with rice. Magic is a great encouragement tool!
It’s important to get the rice onto the paper as soon as you’ve finished drawing the animal with the glue stick. Once the glue is on the page it can dry very quickly and that means the rice won’t stick.
Once the paper was covered with rice, we patted the rice down with our hands. We then folded the paper slightly and tipped the loose rice into a container and viola, beautiful animal rice art!
Art for kids
We made quite a few animals and then Miss Possum took over and used the magic glue stick herself and it was my turn to cover the paper with rice.
We also extended the activity by drawing numbers, letters and shapes with the glue stick.
Learning experience for this activity
  • Fun, interactive and motivating!
  • Animal recognition
  • Animal appreciation
  • Great for fine motor development and hand/eye coordination
  • The texture of the rice makes for a great sensory activity too!
Thank you so much to Janice for all her hard work on Learning 4 Kids. She is doing a wonderful job teaching her girls, and she’s even teaching mine too!
Penny is a wildlife education officer and a mother of three little girls. She writes Wildlife Fun 4 Kids to show parents that it’s not hard to bring wildlife appreciation into the daily life of your child. Her website encourages a love of wildlife in children through engaging, meaningful and fun wildlife activities.
You can visit Penny’s website at Wildlife Fun 4 Kids,  follow her Facebook Page or Pinterest

Sensory Play for Toddlers & Kids – Ice World

Using ice for sensory play for preschoolers and toddlers
Ice World is a sensory activity for toddlers and pre-school children involving playing with ice, water and sea theme props.  Older children will still have a lot of fun and benefit from playing with this sensory ice tub.  The amazing thing about sensory play is that it opens the door to so many wonderful learning opportunities such as imaginative play, language exploration, fine motor development for pre-writing skills, coordination, social interactions and so much more.
Sensory play allows for many unstructured learning experiences for, the freedom to explore and discover the world around them.
What you will need?
Creating an pretend Antarctica sensory tub
You will need containers, sea theme plastic animals, a large tub, food colouring and water. 
Over a period of a few weeks I recycled a number of empty containers, filled them with water and put them into the freezer.  We tried to utilise containers that had different shapes, patterns and sizes to help make ice world more interesting.  We used yoghurt containers, empty biscuit trays which made great patterned ice shapes, large and small bowls, tall and short containers and ice cube trays. 
When we were ready to use the frozen ice, I set them out onto the bench for about 5-10 minutes to allow the ice to melt a little which made it much easier to remove.
We also placed a few drops of blue food colouring into a small jug of water and poured it over the ice to create the blue ice affect that you see in Antarctica and the Artic.
Sensory play opens the opportunity to talk about and use describing words to communicate what is being experienced.  How the ice felt on our hands, cold, freezing cold, if we leave our hands on it for too long it hurts because it is too cold.  The ice also felt slippery, smooth and looked clear and see-through.  We joked about how it would feel if we were to have a bath in it.
The wonderful thing about open-end play opportunities is that they can grow and take a whole new direction.  Our ice world was left over night to melt and the sprinklers filled the tub even further.  So as the next day warmed up it became a whole other play opportunity where Miss 4 enjoyed sitting in the tub catching and scooping all the sea creatures out of the tub with a cup.
Sensory play promotes many learning experiences:
  • Sensory play encourages children to manipulate and mould materials, building up their fine motor skills and coordination.
  • Sensory play uses all 5 senses, but the sense of touch is often the most frequent. Toddlers and children process information through their senses.  They learn through exploring these.
  • Sensory play is unstructured, open-ended, not product-oriented; it is the purest sense of exploratory learning
  • Self-esteem: sensory play offers kids the opportunity for self-expression because there is no right answer and children feel safe to change or experiment with what they are doing.
  • Language development- experimenting with language and descriptive words.
  • Develop social skills: practising negotiation skills, turn taking and sharing. Provides opportunities for working out problems and experimenting with solutions.
  • Encourages Imagination and creative play.
Learning 4 kids

Soapy Slime FUN!!

How to make Slime?
This activity was FUN, REALLY FUN!!
Kids love to get messy, it comes with being a kid as they explore their natural curiosity about the world around them.  Messy-sensory play provides so many opportunities for learning, development and growth.  Soapy Slime is a great mixture to encourage and promote this  messy play with kids.
How to make Soapy Slime?

We have made Soapy Slime before which was around Christmas time last year and we pretended it was imitation snow.  You can read more about this activity here: Sensory Play with Fluffy Christmas Snow.
This time we made two different colours, yellow and red with the intention of creating a new colour, orange when we mixed the two colours together.
To make Soapy Slime you will need 1 cup of Soap Flakes, 3 cups warm water, food colouring, large mixing bowl, large container or tray and an electric beater.  You can find soap flakes at your local supermarket in the washing powder isle. 
As you beat the water, food colouring and soap flakes the mixture multiples, so I placed the large bowl on top of our container to catch the over flow.
Let’s Play 

We had scoops and funnels to play with the soapy slime but the kids seemed to prefer their hands.  I never mentioned anything about the two different colours mixing together, I left this for them to discover and they did in time as the two colours became one giant blob of orange soapy slime.
Sensory play with soapy slime is a great opportunity for kids to explore and use descriptive words.  Words to describe what they are experiencing, their senses and what they were feeling; slippery, slimy, soft, squishy and heavy and what it smells like.  
Messy play is important for young children, giving them endless ways to develop and learn. All types of play are essential for children’s development and early learning. Play helps children to develop and improve their gross and fine motor skills, co-ordination and concentration.  Also how to work co-operatively and collaboratively, use all their senses to discover and explore their environment, and develop their imagination, creative thinking and ability to problem solve and experiment with solutions.
Tips to consider and don’t stress the mess:
This activity looks very messy, well that is because IT IS! This can be understandably overwhelming for some parents but clean-up is quite easy if you plan ahead.  Take the activity outdoors in a large tub, that way when finished playing all you need to do is hose everything off, even the kids!!  This can be all part of the fun and experience!  I also put my kids in their old clothes, no shoes and an apron which provided some protection.  Have a towel handy for any accidents when kids forget they have soap on their hands and put it in their eyes.
Have fun!!
Learning 4 kids
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