June 2018 Newsletter – Sensory Experiences: Infant & Toddler Activity Ideas

Here are a few ideas that would be appropriate to add to an infant or toddler environment:

  • Sound board – Place materials that make different sounds onto a mat or board. Encourage children to explore the different sounds that materials make. This is a great way to recycle old pots and pans and can be mounted to a playground fence as well.
  • Gel Bags – Double bag or use tape to seal zipper baggies. Fill the bags with different colored hair gel. You can add sequins, glitter, or other small items to the bags.  Tape to the floor or wall at the children’s level.
  • Scent dough – Add non-toxic essential oils to homemade dough recipes.
  • Sensory bottles – Mix water, oil, and various items into recycled plastic bottles. Superglue the lids in place.  Encourage children to shake, role, and tilt the bottles.
  • Adhesive play – Place a sheet of two-sided adhesive paper on a cabinet or tray. Provide children with a variety of items to stick to/remove from the paper.  The same can be accomplished with Velcro.
  • Texture wall – Place items with a variety of textures to a wall, board, or cabinet. Think of using different fabrics such as felt, velour, burlap, mesh, etc.
  • Explore ice – Add large chunks of ice to the sensory bin on a warm day for some cool fun.
  • Open and close – Recycle diaper wipe lids. Attach them to a tray or board.  Hid stickers or textured items under each lid.  Encourage children to open the lids to see what’s inside.
  • Sound bottles – Place a variety of small items, bells, beans, etc. into recycled plastic bottles to create a few homemade shakers.
  • Sorting bin – provide a bin full of pom-poms, figurines, and other items that do not pose a choking hazard. Encourage children to sort the items by color, size, or shape.

Find more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

As always, be sure to closely supervise young children as they explore sensory materials. They will often explore materials with their mouths in addition to their hands.


For the Main Article on Sensory Experiences, CLICK HERE

For Preschool Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For School-Age Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Director’s Corner Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

June 2018 Student Spotlight – Cheyenne Harwell

I’ve always loved kids since the age of 12-years-old.  I had worked and helped my husband with his dream of owning a restaurant for 5 years and decided it was time for me. I worked at the airport but I wasn’t happy there so the position became available at the child care facility where I work at now.   My favorite activity with the children would have to be art. My kids get so excited when they hear that we have an art activity to do. Just to see the excitement on their little faces makes my heart melt.  To be able to see a child’s excitement when they learn something new and to know that I am making difference in their life is what motivates me.

I enjoy the most being around the kids in my care. I come in the morning to a group of 3-year-olds running up to me giving tons of love as if they hadn’t seen me in weeks or years. They need to know that they are loved, wanted, and safe.  In the future, I would love to be able to teach the same age group maybe a little older special needs children. They’ve always had a special place in my heart.  In my free time, I love to facetime with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old granddaughters, spend time with my husband, and my friends. I also like to read and go the beach.  I currently live in Mary Esther, Florida.

I just finished my FCCPC and I plan on pursuing my education further with additional coursework or certifications from CCEI.  I would definitely recommend CCEI to everyone. The best thing that could of happened to me!

Communicating with Families about Children’s Learning

As we head into the summer months, many programs are switching from a school year curriculum to a “camp” curriculum.  Sometimes, this can be interpreted as shifting to a less academic focus.  If you have worked in the field for even a short time, you know that this is a tremendous misinterpretation – children experience rich learning opportunities all throughout the year, even during summer months.

So, why does this misconception exist?   It is possible that families believe this because they have not been properly educated or informed about the learning that goes on during “camp” activities.   If this is the case, then we can easily address it through our communication with families enrolled in the program.  Here are a few things you can do to address the concern:

  1. Become an expert in the early learning standards in your state, developmental milestones, and assessment criteria. Being able to communicate what children are learning begins with being 100% comfortable with the tools and resources that guide our practice. It will allow you to speak confidently when families share concerns, in both scheduled meetings and impromptu conversations.
  2. Include learning objectives or learning standards on lesson plans. This will help you remember to focus on certain skills or activities. It will also communicate to families that you continue to work with intention to prepare children for success in school.
  3. Share a description of several of the learning standards that will be addressed in planned activities each week in a parent letter. Even include a few learning standards that will be practices on the marketing materials used to promote camp activities. Every piece of communication to families should include a focus on academic skills. Doing so will help families understand how play-based, open-ended activities are also academic in nature.
  4. Document learning through photography or videos. Post or share images of children engaged in play-based activities with families.  Include a list of the different skills that children are practicing while engaged in play.
  5. Invite family members to participate in the program. When family members are able to participate have them pick a learning standard or developmental milestone at random and see how many times that skill is evident in the environment and in the activities they observe.
  6. Share activity ideas that families can easily incorporate into their summer vacation plans. You could also send home ideas for play-based learning activities that are easy for families to try at home over the weekend. Include a list of skills or learning standards that would likely be evident during the activities. Include a list of questions or prompts that families can use to extend learning.  Ask families to take pictures of children engages in the activities and share them with you for the children’s portfolios.  You could also create a bulletin board that highlights summer learning at school and at home!

June 2018 Newsletter – Sensory Experiences

If you take a moment to think about the experiences that the children in your care enjoy the most, you would probably notice activities such as sand and water play or playdough at the top of the list.  These open-ended, tactile experiences are quite rewarding and engaging for young children.

Not only are these types of activities a creative outlet, they also benefit children in several other ways.  Here is a list of some of the benefits of sensory play:

  • Strengthens and refines fine motor skills
  • Builds language skills and vocabulary
  • Promotes problem solving and cooperation
  • Strengthens concentration and perseverance
  • Provides an outlet for self-calming
  • Helps children discover attributes of materials
  • Promotes classification, sorting, and organization
  • Provides an opportunity for both social interactions and quiet, solitary play
  • Builds neural connections in the brain
  • Encourages curiosity, observation, and exploration

For these reasons, and many others, it is important that sensory exploration be incorporated into early learning environments in multiple ways. This is a great opportunity to go beyond playdough and the sand table – to introduce novel materials that continue to pique children’s interests.

Keep in mind, children explore the world around them with all of their senses, not just through touch.  Look for ways to incorporate sensory experiences that utilize the senses of taste, hearing, smell, sight, in addition to touch.

Sensory play need not be expensive; many recipes are available for sensory materials online.  Be mindful of any allergies children may have when making your own sensory materials.

Also, be sure to share the importance of sensory exploration with families. Share photos of children engaged in sensory play and be sure to include descriptions of all of the skills children are practicing during their play.  See our June blog for more ideas for communicating learning to families.

Check out the lists below for ideas that may be appropriate for the children in your group.  Many of the ideas shared are appropriate for multiple age groups – so be sure to read through each list for ideas you can use in your environment.


For Infant & Toddler Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Preschool Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For School-Age Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE

For Director’s Corner Sensory Ideas, CLICK HERE