Gracen loves “helping” wash dishes so much, I decided to turn it into a little afternoon activity today. While having a toddler standing on a chair beside you splashing in a sink of bubbles as you power through a load as fast as humanly possible isn’t always super convenient, this activity was easy and fun for everyone involved.
We got started by collecting some supplies we had around the house – a bin filled with warm soapy water, a dish drying rack, some plastic dishes, cups, and spoons, a nearly empty dish soap container topped up with water, some scrubber pads, steel wool, a dish brush, and a dish towel. In no time at all, we had an inviting little dishwashing station ready to go!
I asked Grae if she wanted to play, and she got going without hesitation. All dishes in the sink!
Without a doubt, squeezing the soap into the bin was her favourite part.
She scrubbed and washed each dish one at a time…
And when they met her expectations, they were added to the drying rack.
Though she was down to business for part of the activity, things got silly and wet too!
This station was a total hit and I can definitely see it becoming a regular in our play rotation. After all, what’s not to love about bubbles, water, splashing, scrubbing, and getting soaking wet on a warm day?
Summer has finally arrived in the Lower Mainland and it’s getting h.o.t. (no complaining here – we love it). Being that we like to be outside for the majority of the day (and our little old house heats up like an oven), there needs to be some sort of relief so that Miss G doesn’t overheat. So, when we’re not at a pool, beach, or water park, we’re most likely in the backyard playing with water, ice, or a combination of both. Today, we gathered a few things and put together an ocean sensory bin to splash around in.
Some rocks, a handful of seashells, a few pieces of driftwood, a fistful of greens plucked from the garden, a few floating sea creatures, and a couple drops of food colouring, and you’ve got yourself a mini ocean in your backyard.
These ocean creatures are so neat. We found them for $1.25 each and they have the coolest squishy / stretchy / rubbery texture to them. They feel eerily realistic.
Gracen dove in, and thought it was pretty hilarious that I’d set the crocodile up on a piece of driftwood. She experimented with taking him off and balancing him back on again, and once she’d pretty much mastered it, she moved on to balancing the dolphin and whale atop driftwood islands of their own.
Of course, there was plenty of swimming involved too.
She was just getting started on emptying the ocean out onto the towel when we heard a clattering coming around the side of the house… Grandma Charlotte and her friend, Judy, had arrived for an afternoon visit! And with all kinds of special gifts for Miss G, no less. Needless to say, our ocean fun came to a halt. Presents to open and and Manmaws to visit take priority, obviously. As they should. ☺
I was beyond thrilled when I stumbled upon Happy Hooligans a couple of weeks ago. Jackie, the woman behind the blog runs an in-home daycare and is all about old-fashioned play, open-ended exploration, and letting kiddos get down and dirty. My kind of gal! Upon scrolling through her posts, I immediately knew that this activity would be a huge hit with Miss G. The only problem was that I wanted to surprise Grae with it on a sunny day.
Well, today that day finally arrived! I laid a blanket out in our backyard, filled a bin with some warm, soapy water, added a couple of drops of blue food colouring, and we had a bath. Next, I collected a couple of wash cloths, hand towels, a tooth brush, a hair brush, a bath poof (that’s my technical term), a water-filled mister, and a couple nearly empty soap bottles topped up with water. Gracen’s contribution was her naked and nearly 50 year old baby doll that used to be mine and was Grandma Sue’s before that. Voila – a baby bath station!
On a side note, have I ever mentioned the fact that there are 7 people living in the basement suite of our house? Because there is. Well 7 permanent residents, plus a few of extended family members that are around A LOT. In a suite that is probably fit for 2 or 3 college students who don’t care to cook. And while they’re quite nice, having that many people living below us can be quite challenging at times… The constant come and go, picking up after 5 children other than our own (in a yard that is supposed to be entirely ours), and the noise… Oh, the noise!
Why am I mentioning all this in a post about a baby bath station, you wonder? Well, because the middle child of the 5, a sweet little girl who is 6 years old, has taken quite a liking to Gracen and the activities I set up for her. For the past month or two, it seems like the moment we head out into the yard, she comes running up the stairs to join us. And while I really don’t mind including her and watching her for an hour here or there, it sometimes makes new activities fall a little flat. Because she’s several years older, she dives into new activities without a thought. But Grae, on the other hand, needs a little time to cautiously explore and figure things out before really getting into some things. The result is that Gracen sits backs and watches, doesn’t get involved, and then moves on to something else entirely.
Needless to say, today’s sensory bin got off to a bit of slow start. Gracen was really excited to get started, and had some fun, but once it became difficult to get her hands on any of the goodies, she sat back, watched, and soon decided she’d rather do something else while her little friend enjoyed her new baby bath.
I felt bad, but after a little while, I politely dismissed us from the backyard and shifted our things over to the solarium. The perk with having to move? The solarium was so nice and warm that the little lady was able to don her tankini. With a little more space to move and explore, Gracen really got into it.
There was washing, scrubbing, hair brushing, and grooming… And before long, our little fishy went for a bath of her own. It was inevitable, really.
Soon it became a bath a tooth brushing station for two.
Probably the favourite part of the whole station though, was this little one dollar purple spray bottle.
Somehow, over an hour in, our little bath station shifted gears a little…
With baby’s hair groomed just so, Gracen wanted her hair done too. She asked for a ponytail, quickly changed her mind to two ponies, and by the time she was done with the pack of elastics, she wanted eight. This was the result. She thought it was pretty hilarious and asked me to take photo after photo, just so she could see herself on the camera’s display.
Overall, this new sensory experience was a huge hit. When all was said and done, Gracen was clean, smiley, and sufficiently pruned.
I love the fact that we have a little solarium out back. Unfortunately though, for us, it’s not just a place to grow pretty plants and relax… It’s our laundry room, shoe closet, tricycle riding corral, and recycling depot, all in one. And today it became a play room on top of all of that.
I’ve been squirrelling away little things for some sensory bins I’ve wanted to put together for Miss G for a while now, and today Gracen and I finally found bins that are the perfect shape and size. As soon as we got home, we gathered our materials for a super simple water sensory bin, changed Miss G into a bathing suit, and headed out into the solarium for some fun.
We laid a blanket down first to minimize potential flooding and slipping, filled the bin halfway full of water, added a couple of drops of blue food colouring just for fun, and plunked in Grae’s collection of shells, rocks, and driftwood.
She was a little unsure of what she should do at first…
But in a couple minutes time, she realized that this was going to be fun!
Naturally, all of the ocean items came out of the water and were put onto the blanket.
Then she used a strainer to help her “wash” her treasures.
And before long, she was gathering her own items and adding them to the bin.
But her favourite thing? Putting things into cups and then dumping them into the water.
She liked doing this so much that she began retrieving containers from the recycling bin to fill up.
Inevitably, this happened…
And this. (She’s kissing the water.)
And by the time we were through, her hands were freezing cold, her suit was dripping wet, and our ocean bin had gained several new items.