Play with water! Fill a bathtub, sink or bin with water and add cups, spoons and bowls. Model for your child how to fill, pour and stir with the different items. You can also pour water out from different heights for them to catch with another bowl or cup.
For older children you can also add other household items like sponges, loofahs or washcloths. They can squeeze, wring and wipe. Materials with a variety of textures can make a water bin or tub more engaging to explore. Kitchen tools, like tongs and basters, also make great water toys! Cut a sponge into smaller pieces and challenge your child to “chase” the pieces with tongs and load them into a bowl. Tip: One great way to participate in sensory play with your child is to imitate them! If your child is filling a cup with water and pouring it out, do the same. Make it fun – you can exaggerate your movements or make sound effects to draw attention to what you’re doing.
Play dough is a great way to build hand strength and teach children simple actions. You can model how to squeeze, squish, flatten and roll the dough. Roll with one hand, roll with two, hands, roll a ball on the table or roll and ball between your palms. Show your child how to pinch or squeeze the play dough using just their thumb and index finger (pincers). This can be challenging and you can help them learn by rolling small balls of play dough and then encouraging them to squeeze the ball with just these pincer fingers.
Make a play dough “treasure” hunt. Hide small objects like buttons, marbles or beads in the play dough and challenge your child to find them all. Encourage them to use just their pincer fingers to manipulate the play dough and the objects. Count the objects together to make sure they found them all. If this is too easy, add a little extra flour or a little less water when making your play dough so that it has more resistance and it’s harder to squish.
Tip: While some children love to just make shapes out of play dough, others may find rolling and squishing repetitive and not engaging. You can model how to make animals and shapes out of play dough rolls and balls. It’s easy to make snakes, snails, bears and bugs!
Home made play dough recipes with household ingredients: