With flowers starting to bloom and warm weather filling the air, there is an abundance of new sensory materials available to intrigue your toddler—to catch their senses, keep them busy and excited, and give them something new to play with. Of course, many toddlers (particularly boys) would rather run around outside just as fast and as long as you’ll let them. However, there will be times when they need to engage in quieter play; times when they can’t go outside to play, so you bring the outside in to them; and times when they need a little bit different kind of exploration for a little while. Sensory bins are the perfect quiet time activity. They tend to be very confined (though many of them end up spread all over the floor), and many of them can be prepared ahead and pulled out when you need them.
This one, you can’t prepare much ahead of time (unless you’re using fake flowers, in which case, you can make it whenever you want). However, there are likely plenty of flowers growing right around your home. You don’t want to steal the neighbors’ flowers (unless you’re on really, really good terms with your neighbors), but you can use wildflowers, or trim a few out of your own garden.
Many kinds of seeds can be purchased in bulk—sunflower seeds; birdseed; whatever you think your little one would most like to play with. Be sure to find something that will be easy to clean up, though, especially if you’re going to be playing inside. You might want to include measuring cups, spoons, or other toys to scoop them up and pour them out again.
Early in the season, it’s too cold for water play; but as it gets warmer, you can break out the water table, fill a tub with water and let them play “car wash,” or break out the hose. Before you know it, it’ll be summer time—and then the water can really come out!
Make a box full of mulch, and let your toddler plant their own seeds—or go outside, get some dirt, and turn old soda or juice bottles into your own planter. If your child wants to observe every step of the process, put some seeds on a damp paper towel, in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. It’s a fascinating process that they can come back to again and again.
Everything has new leaves this time of year: the trees, the bushes, the flowers…take a few different types of leaves and mix them up in a box for your child to explore! Just remember, if you’re going to bring them inside, check for bugs first!