Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Baby/Toddler Sensory Time

I'm always on the look out for fun and different activities to do with babies and toddlers, so when I read about the great sensory activities that Brooke, Laura, Mallory and others have done with babies I knew I had to try some of them myself.

One major reason I knew I wanted to try a program like this is that I wanted the chance to impress upon parents that sensory activities provide great benefits to babies and toddlers. Sensory experiences are how babies and toddlers learn about the world. They also provide a great opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and early scientific concepts. The other big reason I wanted to do this program is that getting messy with babies sounded like my idea of a fun time.

As I started out planning this event, the biggest obstacle I ran into was scheduling. I've been doing my best to include more evening and weekend programming for the sake of working parents. This seems to be particularly tricky to do for babies and toddlers. Afternoon and evening programs seemed like they would be difficult to do with this age because of bedtime and naps, so I decided to do the program on a Saturday morning. This seemed to work well. We had 10 babies and toddlers in attendance, which is a pretty good number for our small library.


The majority of supplies used for this program were ones we already owned. I spent about $10 on hair gel, pudding and other miscellaneous stuff at the grocery store. My big ticket expense was the $14 I spent on bubble wrap at Staples.  


What we did:

I started out the program with a short storytime in our Storytime Room. We read "Five for a Little One" by Chris Raschka and did a few simple songs and games related to our senses. These songs and games included "Five Fat Sausages", "Peekaboo", "Popcorn" and the "Touch Game". Words and sources for all these songs are available on my Storytime Page. This ended up being a great way to start the program because it gave people extra time to arrive before the fun and mess began.

Our stations:


Finger painting:

At a messy program like this, fingerpainting seemed a given. My main addition to the sensory experience was some scrunched up paper I took for a recent book delivery we received. A major bonus of this station is it gives the families something tangible to take home with them.

Water table: 

This station was something I used at a previous science storytime I did. Water play is always a hit, and creates minimal mess so it was definitely a great sensory experience to include.

Pool of scarves:

The idea of filling a pool with a sensory element came from Brooke. Instead of using balls I used our storytime scarves and extra scrunchy paper from the finger painting station. We've always used this pool for bubbles at our end of summer party, so I was very happy to get more use out of it.

Stained glass windows:

To create a "stained glass window" all you need to do is attach tissue paper to contact paper. I originally got this idea from Laura. I had extra contact paper leftover from covering numbers on our Children's Room ramp, so I was all set for this station as well. It ended up being a great one to keep older siblings who were tagging along occupied.

 Baby "car wash":

This "car wash" was another one of Brooke's ideas I used. Definitely fun for the babies to crawl under or just chill out.

Play area:

I put out our parachute and the toys I use for playtime after our Baby Storytime. I also put our our rhythm sticks, shaky eggs and bells. I especially loved seeing the babies use the toys and instruments as they explored other areas of the program.

Sensory bags:

The idea of taping baggies of full of sensory materials down and letting babies write on them is one I've seen on several of my favorite blogs. For my baggies I used chocolate pudding, paint, and the cheapest hair gel I could find. I also added magnetic marbles to each bag for an extra sensory element.

Bubble wrap walkway:

Last but not least, the hit of this program, my bubble wrap walkway. This was something I read about from both Laura and Brooke, and I am so glad I tried it. The babies loved it! It was the most expensive part of this program but totally worth it.

Here it is in use!

All this was an easy and fun program to do with my babies and toddlers. I'd give it a "thumbs up" for sure!

If you have any questions about this program I'd love to hear them! You can comment here or reach me on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

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