Winter Sensory Writing Practice Trays for Kids

It doesn’t snow where we live here in Melbourne. In fact, I have probably seen actual, real snow only two or three times in my entire life. I do love the idea of snow though, and how pretty it looks – I am not sure I love that it’s so cold!

In this activity, you will make a fun sensory writing tray that uses coconut as it’s sensory base. The coconut sort of resembles snow, and as well as feeling great – it smells divine! Making this activity is a true sensory learning experience, and a fun way to keep writing practice interesting.

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This is what you will need:

  • A shallow dish or container. We used this tray from Melissa and Doug. Here is an amazon affiliate link to the product:
Melissa & Doug 3781 Lace and Trace Activity Set: 5 Wooden Panels and 5 Matching Laces – Farm
  • Coconut
  • Paintbrush
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This is what you will need to do:

1. Pour a small amount of coconut into your tray or dish so that it is covered with a thin layer of coconut. I rarely use food as a crafting material – it is such a waste. But I found this in my pantry and it was close to its use by date, so we decided to use a small amount in this activity.

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2. Place your tray of coconut on a flat surface. You may like to spread out an old sheet or some paper towel under your tray to catch any coconut spills and make clean up easy. Then start writing in the tray. This time, we used a paintbrush to keep things interesting. But you can use any tool that you like – or even just your finger!

We started with letters. I typed up some words and then we used our paint brush to write each letter in the coconut snow! Once you have formed your letter, simply smooth over the coconut letter and start again!

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Don’t feel restricted to only writing letters. Try writing numbers and add some counters to practice counting, subitising and 1:1 correspondence skills. [Have you heard of the term subitising before? Subitising is the ability to recognize the number of objects in a small group without actually counting each item out].

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And you can also practice shape formation too! To do this, I simply printed out some shapes and then placed them next to the tray for my little guys to copy.

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These are the shapes that I printed. You can download your own shape file here:

Once you have finished with your writing tray, you might like to store the coconut in an air tight container to use again another day. You might even like to dye your coconut with some food coloring. It is up to you how you choose to play and learn!

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Thank you so much for reading! Any thoughts or questions, please pop them in the comments section below. Jacinta Xx

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Please enjoy these fun FREE winter counting printables!

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Flower Science

I love this pretty flower activity! It’s super easy and inexpensive to put together, but resulted in so much fun and learning for my girls!

A couple of weeks ago we went for a walk together around our neighborhood, picking flowers that were growing on the nature strips – we didn’t pick any flowers from peoples gardens! It was actually nearing the end of winter, so we were really surprised to find so many beautiful, bright colored flowers growing.

Once we were home, we placed the flowers into an over sized ice cube tray, filled the tray with water and popped them into the freezer. To be totally honest, that’s where they sat for the next couple of weeks! But, we finally pulled them out yesterday and had the best time with them.

We used solutions of warm water (with a small amount of purple food dye added) and salt to melt the blocks. We talked about melting points and the patterns that we could make in the ice with the salt. We also noted how the flowers looked different on thawing than they did before we froze them! All great scientific observations.

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Here is what you will need:

Flowers

Ice cube tray

Water

Plastic pipettes or squeeze bottles

Salt

Food coloring

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Here is what you will need to do:

1. Pick some flowers. You might find these in your garden or in your neighborhood. Remember that if you are going to walk your neighborhood, make sure that an adult is present and that you watch for traffic when crossing roads.

2. Place your flowers into the ice cube tray.

3. Fill the tray with water. You will notice that the flowers float to the top of the ice cube tray wells.

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4. Pop the ice cube tray into the freezer. It will probably take overnight to freeze – especially if you are using similar trays to ours.

5. Place the frozen blocks onto a tray. Pour a small amount of warm water into the tray. We colored our water with a drop of purple food dye.

6. Take your pipette and drop the water over the ice blocks. Keep dropping until you see your ice blocks start to disappear. You can also sprinkle some salt over the ice blocks to speed up the thawing process.

7. If you don’t have a plastic pipette, you can also use squeeze or spray bottles to transfer the water. It’s totally up to you!

8. And this activity is a fun one to do outside! Take your tray out into a warm sunny spot and experiment further. This also makes clean up simple!

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The Science:

Have you ever wondered why salt makes ice melt faster? The answer is actually really simple. Salt lowers the melting point of the water, meaning it will thaw at a lower temperature. The more salt that you add, the faster the ice will melt.

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions pop them in the comments section below. Jacinta Xx

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Here is a fun FREE printable for you! It is a fun number matching game.

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Fine Motor Skill Lions

We have made a couple of Lion crafts over the last few years. The first was when we painted a paper plate and then attached strips of yellow and orange paper hair (picture in the middle in the above panel). Cutting the strips of paper to attach as the hair was a great way to practice scissor skills! We also rolled the paper around a pencil to curl it – another fun way to strengthen little fingers and develop fine motor skills.

Next, we gave the adorable lions that we had made a hair cut to practice our scissor skills some more (right picture above). We started by cutting off the curls with scissors and then snipping a fringe pattern around the plate. It’s a little hard to see – you may need to zoom in.

And then just yesterday we made these Lacing Lions (pictured on the left)! This activity is a great way to practice fine motor skills and pincer grip, and to introduce some easy sewing techniques.

These lacing lions are so easy to put together. They are made from a piece of recycled card, and the really neat thing is that once you have made the lion, you can lace the yarn over and over again.

Keep reading to see how we made these Lacing Lions!

This is what you will need:

  • A piece of recycled card
  • Yellow paint (I used acrylic paint)
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Black marker pen
  • Bamboo skewer
  • Orange or yellow yarn
  • Plastic sewing needle

This is what you will need to do:

1. Trace a circle in the middle of your card with pencil. You might like to trace a small plate or bowl to get a nice even circle shape. Once you are happy with your circle shape, paint it yellow and add some ears. Allow the paint to dry completely.

2. Next, take your bamboo skewer and press holes around the edge of the circle. Remember that the bamboo skewers are sharp. An adult will need to do this step.

3. Trace a second larger circle around your painted circle with pencil.

4. Take your bamboo skewer again and very carefully press holes through the card along the second pencil line. The trick with this step is to make sure that you match the holes up with those on the smaller circles so that they are in pairs. (remember that the bamboo skewers are sharp. Please use them carefully!).

5. Decorate the face of your lion. We drew eyes, a nose and mouth with black marker pen and then used a little bit of water colour paint to give red, rosy cheeks.

6. Start lacing! To do this, thread some orange yarn onto a plastic needle and start pushing the needle through the holes in the card.

7. At this point, I felt as though our lion looked a little bit more like a sun than a lion! ha ha!

8. So I used the bamboo skewer to add more holes around the edge of the lion and we added more layers of yarn.

This is how the finished lion looked!

Here is a quick video of how we made these Lions.

Thank you so much for reading all the way down to the end of this article. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Jacinta Xx

And here is a free lion template for you to practice your fine motor and scissor skills!

Build A City

Activities that develop early math skills are our favourites! We love working on our number recognition, counting skills, subitising and 1:1 correspondence. This “Build a City” activity is perfect for developing all of these early numeracy skills. And best of all, you probably have everything you need to play at home already!

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What you will need:

Build A City template

Blocks – we used our duplo blocks, but you can use any building blocks that you like.

Small wooden numbers or marker pens.

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What you will need to do:

  1. Print out the “Build a City” template (or draw up your own on a piece of paper). Here is the link to the file:

Please note that your printed page will look a bit different to the ones in our photos above! It will look like this one:

2. Fill in the bottom grid with numbers. We used wooden numbers so that we could switch the order each time we played. If you don’t have wooden numbers you can fill the numbers in with marker pens.

3. Identify the numbers and stack the corresponding number of blocks into a tower. Keep building until you have constructed your skyline.

Your finished skyline might look something like this:

Here’s a quick video of how to play!

And you can Pin this to save the link to the template too!

Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. I would love to hear from you. Jacinta Xx

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