Soothing Sights and Sounds
Hang commercially made windchimes or make your own by stringing small bells from a wooden dowel, in an area where they can catch the wind. Place the baby where he can see and hear the chimes. When the movement of the wind starts them chiming, follow the baby's gaze to the source of the sound and talk about the pretty sounds you are hearing. Make a windsock by attaching streamers made of crepe paper or strips of colorful fabric to a ring made from a plastic lid from a coffee can with a hole cut in the center. The wind will move the streamers and visually delight the baby.
Time for a Treasure Hunt
Provide a sand table or fill individual dishpans with sand. Add scoops, small shovels, pails, rakes, and sifters. Hide rocks and shells (make sure they are large enough not to be a choking hazard) in the sand. Encourage babies to feel around in the sand with their fingers to find the rocks and shells. Help older infants use sifters to uncover their treasures. Babies will enjoy making the objects appear and disappear over and over again.
Jiggly Gelatin Blocks
Make blocks using three different colors and flavors of gelatin. Give the baby a small block of each one. Talk about the color, taste, and feel of each one as the baby explores the blocks.
Play Dough a-Plenty!
Make play dough by mixing together 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 4 teaspoons cream of tartar, 2 cups water, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Stir the ingredients together and cook over a medium heat until the dough is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Let cool and give each baby some to squeeze, poke, pat, flatten, and explore. Add some yellow or orange food color and a few drops of lemon or orange extract to increase the sensory experience.
Provide a water table or fill individual dishpans with clear water. Place several plastic containers filled with colored water and metallic glitter in the water table. Watch the toddlers' amazement as the water changes color and sparkles when they pour the contents of the containers into the clear water. Add plastic spoons and cups that children can use to explore the colorful, sparkly water.
Wax Paper Play
Tear off a large sheet of wax paper. Tape several wooden or plastic beads (minimum of 1 inch in diameter to prevent choking) several inches apart along the middle of the paper. Fold the paper several times so that the beads remain in the middle of the sheet. Twist the paper between each bead. Encourage the toddler to try to find each bead by unfolding and manipulating the slippery, slithery paper.
Rice is Nice
Add concentrated food color to uncooked white rice and stir it until the desired shade is achieved. Put several inches of rice in an empty sand or water table (or large dishpans if a sand/water table is not available). Add funnels, plastic jars with wide openings, coffee scoops, and cups. For a more visually exciting experience, fill half of the table with one color rice and half with another. Let the toddlers mix the rice together and see what happens.
Come to the Car Wash
Fill individual shallow bins with an inch of warm water. Give each toddler two plastic cars, a toothbrush, and small cake of soap. Let them enjoy the soothing feeling of the warm water and slippery soap as they wash their cars.