Thriving Through Isolation
No matter what you do right now, there is no escaping the dreaded C word that is currently causing havoc all over the world. In this time of uncertainty, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a few play ideas that you can replicate easily at home to help you all out.
Below are some examples of simple play ideas you can do with your little one's at home if you find yourself on lockdown.
Firstly, our range of sensory boxes are perfect for entertaining your babies and toddlers and if you already have one, you will know that there are HOURS of fun in those little boxes. Now, more than ever is a great time to utilise it and our guides are packed full of play ideas.
However, that being said, if you don’t have one of our boxes you will find PLENTY of resources around your home that you can utilise. Pinterest is full of fab ideas and may just become your new best friend (apart from Gin) over the next few weeks. But, below are a few ideas to get your started.
Adult supervision is required at all times for these activities.
The clue is in the name. Just place your items out in a large circle for your little one to explore. Ideal for younger babies, for practicing tummy time, for those just learning to sit or just learning to become more mobile. You can use absolutely anything to do this, if you don’t have one of my boxes then find things around your house that would be suitable. Things like sponges, wooden spoons, wooden pegs, different materials etc. This can also be done if you have a hula hoop. You can tie/attach items around the hula hoop to create a sensory circle.
Create an engaging multi-sensory activity for your baby by making a foil cave. The easiest way to do this is by placing it over a baby gym (or something else that is secure to hold it up.) Adding in a light up ball, fairy lights or sensory lamp will really enhance the activity as the lights bounce and reflect around the foil.
If you don’t have a foil blanket then regular tin foil will do (if you have enough).
Last year I wrote a blog on how to make edible paint at home. It is a super simple recipe (and hopefully ingredients you can easily get or one’s that you may already have in the house). Just follow the link to read the blog:
Now only try this one if your supplies for rice are ok!
Here is a simple recipe to create your rainbow rice:
- 1 cup of long grain rice
- ½ Tsp vinegar
- Few drops of food colouring
- Storage tub
How to Dye Rice - Pour a cup of rice into your tub. Then pop a few drops of food colouring over the rice. Drizzle 1/2 tsp of vinegar over the rice, pop the lid on your tub and shake. (alternatively, you can use a zip lock bag)
Drying your rice - Spread each batch of coloured rice out on a plate or a baking sheet and just leave near a radiator to dry overnight.
Repeat the steps if you want to create more than one colour.
Either use your rice and pair with spoons and cups for scooping activities or put into a sensory bottle.
Simple to create, wonderfully calming and they can be customised utilising any materials found around your home and adapted to suit the needs of your little one. They can be filled with water, oil, glue or a variety of. Younger babies will be mesmerised watching the contents of a sensory bottles dance around as they are shaken and will enjoy shaking them when they improve on their grasp and learn cause of effect.
For toddlers – encourage them to help by dropping the contents into the bottle. Your little one will improve their fine motor skills by grasping and picking up the small objects and placing them into the bottle. Sensory bottles are also a fun way to introduce maths and science at an early age by practicing measuring liquid going into the bottle or by counting items going in.
Any empty bottle will work well, so you don’t need to order in any fancy bottles!
Creating a glitter sensory bottle - This sparkly sensory bottle is easy to make. It provides visual calm for your baby or toddler when they shake it or when they turn it around in their hands.
You will need:
1 x Bottle (remove the label)
Oil (baby oil or vegetable oil will do)
First squeeze oil into the empty bottle. Use enough to fill one-third of the bottle with the oil. Add warm water until it’s about three-quarters full. Next, add a few drops of food colouring and sprinkle in some glitter. Put the lid on the bottle and shake to mix the ingredients.
Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, fill the bottle to the top with water. Put the lid back on and secure it with superglue/hot glue or tape and it’s good to go.
Make sure the lid of the bottles are sealed. Hot glue works best, but if you don’t have hot glue, then use super glue, failing that then just use tape.
Have a look on Pinterest for more sensory bottle ideas or have fun exploring and seeing what you can come up with.
Photo source: www.instagram.com/mummy.millroy
Create your own music shakers:
Just like sensory bottles, this time fill the bottle with dry ingredients, or, if dry ingredients are still hard to get then things like buttons would work just as well. Different items will create different noises when shaken. Encourage you little one to explore the different sounds and different tempos using specific words (quiet, loud, slow, fast) to encourage language development and understanding. Your baby will enjoy grasping and shaking, whereas your toddler will enjoy helping to fill the bottles.
Tuff spot tray ideas:
The possibilities of play using tuff trays is endless, they are great for promoting positive play and encouraging imagination. You can literally do anything within it and adapt it to suit the age/ability/development of your little ones. Messy play (such as edible paint mentioned above) can be done on the try to contain the mess. If you’re not fond of mess then try activities that utilise dry foods such as pasta/cereals (depending on stock levels that being said) and allow your little one to explore the tray. I also like to add in ladles, measuring spoons and bowls for example, so that we can have fun scooping and emptying the contents.
Below are a few themed trays that I have recently done… all from sourcing items from around my house.
No cooking involved and simple ingredients
Makes -1 coloured ball
Prep -10 minutes
You will need
- 8 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp table salt
- 60ml warm water
- food colouring
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the water, a few drops of food colouring and the oil.
- Pour the coloured water into the flour mix and bring together with a spoon.
- Dust a work surface with a little flour and turn out the dough. Knead together for a few minutes to form a smooth, pliable dough. If you want a more intense colour you can work in a few extra drops of food colouring.
- Store in a plastic sandwich bag (squeeze out the air) in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Baking with your little one’s isn’t just fun and tasty; it is also super beneficial for their development and a great way for them to explore their senses. Most of us will all have some sort of ingredients in the house (hopefully, although I couldn’t get flour on my last shop) to whip something easy together. I won’t provide a specific recipe but I do like to use BBC Good Food. That being said, there is also nothing wrong with using any kits. I have a dinosaur biscuit kit in the cupboard that I am intending on using with Alfie at some point this week, letting him get involved with the mixing and icing and obviously taste testing.
Scarf play ideas:
Sensory scarves are one of my favourite resources as they are so versatile and can be enjoyed in so many different ways! Below are a few different ideas on how to use the scarves for your baby and toddler. If you don’t have any sensory scarves, do not worry, things such as muslins will work just as well.
Peekaboo – An absolute must to play with your baby and still enjoyed by your toddlers.
Encourage your older babies and toddlers to throw and wave the scarves around. Add in some music too and wave the scarves to your favourite songs.
Hiding items/scarf tie – Use the scarf around some of other items/toys (such as the balls or bells etc) and cover them up with it. Not only will this add a “new” sensory and textural element to that item, but your baby will also have fun exploring how to get it out. To progress this activity loosely tie the scarves up so your little one has to figure out how to untie the scarf.
You can also tie the scarves onto something like a bouncer/baby gym to encourage your baby to reach out and grab/bat the scarf. To progress this activity, tie the scarf onto their high chair with items tied inside. They can then try to bat it with their feet or will have to figure out that they can pull the scarf up to get to them. A great little activity to do whilst your trying to sort out dinner and your little one is getting a little frustrated at being sat in their high chair.
Scarf pull – There are a few different ways of doing a scarf pull activity and each one will encourage and support your baby’s problem solving and motor skill development. If you have an Oball (or similar toy) then thread a scarf (or 2) through the gaps of the ball. Your little one will then have to figure out how to get the scarves out by pulling and tugging them. If you don’t have an Oball you can create the same activity using a whisk.
Scarf pull using discarded toilet roll cartons: Use 2 empty cartons and thread the scarves through them. As above they will then need to pull and tug and move the rolls themselves to get them out. Have a toddler as well as a baby? Get your toddler to help paint the carton’s first before using them for a little craft activity.
Scarf pull using empty hand tissue boxes/baby wipe packets: Your baby at some point will discover that they can pull all the wipes or tissues out of the packets and that its really fun to do so! Once the packets/boxes are empty, then place the scarves inside for your baby to pull out instead. They will still love doing it but without the mess of wipes everywhere for you
to tidy up!
Play dress up/role play games with your scarves! Turn them into a cape for example a play a game of super heroes.
A really simple activity that will encourage hand-eye coordination, dexterity, problem solving, object permanence and cause of effect, all you need is a cardboard box and some balls. This is a great activity for those who are sitting.
Just cut a hole at the top of the box and one hole at the bottom on one of the sides. The idea is that your little one will drop the ball into the box and reach out into the bottom to then get it back out. This will help them to understand that when the ball drops in, it doesn’t disappear for ever and that they can get it back out again.
Look and feel box:
Use the box from your ball drop to create a look and feel box. A great activity to do with your toddler. Place items inside (make sure your toddler doesn’t see what it is) and encourage them to put their hands inside the hole to feel what it is. Can they describe the shape, how iit feels, can they guess what it is?
Ball sensory activity using a baking tray:
I know this isn’t a new idea by any stretch, but it’s so fabulous and babies just absolutely love it. So here is a fun sensory baby play activity using a muffin tin. It is so easy to set up and will have your baby playing and exploring for a long time. Of course, this activity can be modified to suit your own baby and their skills. It’s such a great way to engage your baby in play and exploring objects and textures and for encourage tummy time and sitting.
All you need to set this activity up is a muffin tin and a range of different balls (different textures/sizes etc) and encourage you little one to fit the balls into the tray. Keep 1 or 2 empty so that your little one can transfer from one hole to another.
You can also do this activity with a range of objects, not just balls. Below is a picture of using edible ingredients.
Place some of your toddler’s favourite toys into a tub and cover over with either masking tape, string, wool, or whatever you can find in your house. The material on top of the tub will create a little barrier making it a little trickier for your little one to reach in and get the toys out. This same activity can be done with tapping the toys onto a sheet of cardboard – your little one will then need to figure out how to get the tape off and get the toy down!
Turn off the tv and just spend time reading with your little ones. If you can find props and resources to link to the book then this will enhance the activity. If not, don’t worry just factor in some story time into your day.
Singing, nursery rhymes and dancing:
Very early in their life, children will start to identify rhythm and even move to the beats of music. Singing and listening to music provides cognitive benefits that support children’s early development.
Just as taste, textures and colours aid a child’s sensory development, so does music. Exposing your child to different types of music can help create more pathways between the cells in their brains. This effect increases even more when you link music to different activities such as dancing.
From an early age, babies can hear the difference between different types of sounds. After just a few weeks, a baby is able to identify their mother’s voice from other people’s. Exposure to music enhances a child’s natural ability to decode sounds and words.
By singing nursery rhymes to your child, you can help them to identify sound patterns and learn through repetition. In addition to that, music also helps children anticipate what is coming next in a poem or a song and they know how to put these patterns in a sequence. By mastering these skills, children build the base of literacy and numeracy.
You can use music to indicate play time, sleep time or different moments in your child’s daily schedule as well as using it for calming.
Even if your child doesn’t understand the lyrics of a song yet, they can definitely move to the rhythm of the music. You may have already noticed your child dancing to certain songs or liking certain pieces of music more than others.
Music encourages children’s inclination to move, developing their fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Plus, if the rhythm is very entertaining, you may even notice your toddler starting to jump up and down, which helps with their muscle development, strength and balance.
Add in your shakers or musical instruments as you sing and dance to your favourite songs and just enjoy the moment together.
Treasure baskets are filled with everyday items made from natural materials, such as a paint brush, metal spoon, rolling pins, fir cones, and feathers. The idea of playing with everyday items is not new, but a simple treasure basket gives babies an opportunity to explore, experiment and make choices at their own pace. The aim of the basket is to fully engage the baby’s five senses; through touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.
Creating baskets out of theme’s is also a great activity for your little ones. Fill the basket with specific items linked to a theme like colours, shapes, musical items, maybe around a favourite book etc.
DIY Sensory Board:
I personally haven’t done one myself but I have some lids from baby wipes that I have kept to try one out. There are lots of great ideas for this on Pinterest and some that are simple to make.
With the baby wipe lids, I plan on sticking them onto some cardboard and behind them placing different materials. The idea being that Alfie will then lift up the lid and explore touching the material behind it.
Another spin on this – place photographs of loved one’s behind the lids (perfect during this time if you re not seeing family members as much).
Visual Card Downloads:
On my website you will find some downloads for Easter visual cards and woodland animals (variation of high contrast and colour).
These are FREE downloads for you to print out at home, laminate and create your own visual cards. (perfect for pairing with a sensory basket or tuff spot play idea). If you do not have a laminator, please do not go out and buy one. Just print them out as they are. You can still make use of them.
As well as that there are also some activity sheets for your budding artists provided by the lovely KizzehDraws; www.instagram.com/kizzehdraws again, these are a free download. I will also try an upload as much as I can.
Grab your downloads here:
I hope some of these activities will help you out over the next few weeks, helping to give you some focus but to also enjoy the moments with your little one’s during this testing time. There are so many different things you can try with items around your home, just be creative. Even using pots and pans with a wooden spoon is an engaging activity!
Please do tag me in your photos on social media using the hashtags #thelittlesensorybox and #thrivingthroughisolation to help keep the positivity going.
Don’t forget to check out Pinterest for some great inspiration, here are also some of my favourite accounts on Instagram:
We also love watching and joining in with The Baby Club on Cbeebies!!
Whatever happens, stay safe and stay healthy.
Dee & Alfie xx