Alright – it’s officially winter. The ice is on the ground, there’s a chill in the air, and a lot of us didn’t get to take our usual vacations over the holidays. So how do we bring that fun, excitement, and change of scenery into our day when still stuck at home? Bring the sunshine-y fun to you with a few of these favorites; I’ve included a fine motor skill activity, a gross motor activity, an art project, and a snack to make the most of this silly exploration time. Feel free to dress up or decorate to really get the party started (flower necklaces are optional, but encouraged)!
Sandy Shores Sensory Bin!
If you’ve been following our activities this winter, you know I love a fun sensory bin! I’ve already shared my ideas on how to make it winter-tastic, but what if we’re trying to bring in the summer? Here’s a few things you can put in your beach-themed bin:
- Sand! Regular sand can be found for very inexpensive at stores like Lowes or Home Depot – just be sure to have your bin on some sort of secondary tarp underneath for easier clean-up (or vacuum right after play time). Want something a little more? Kinetic sand is a fan favorite as it feels like dry sand, but is easier to form into castles and towers.
- Shovels, pails, and sand-molds! Get out those beach toys collecting dust in the garage! These toys can be used year round when we give them the chance, and when we bring out these toys that we usually only have on those special occasions, it makes the activity itself feel more special.
- Seashells or tiny toy sea creatures! What’s the fun of digging if there’s nothing to find? Mixing these treasures into your bin gives your kiddos a goal in their playing. It also gives the opportunity for counting, item identification, and activity extension.
As always, watch your little ones closely and be careful of any choking hazards as you play.
Hang Ten, Dude!
A little imagination is all you need when the waves are far away! Use a favorite pillow or a tape line to create an at home surfboard and work those balancing muscles for a little surfing game! Practice standing with your two feet apart and arms out to the sides (Warrior Two style for my yogis out there) and work on shifting your weight back and forth between your legs. Practice with either side in front! Lie on your belly and use those big kid arm muscles to “swim” up to shore! See if you can balance on just one foot! Oh no, there’s a big wave- WIPE OUT! Fall down, but then jump right back up. This activity is all about movement, balance, and silliness. Add extra ambiance to your exploration with some good surfin’ music! Here are some favorite songs to surf to:
- Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from Lilo and Stitch
- Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys
- Surfin’ In My Imagination by Ralph’s World
- Hawaii Five-O by The Ventures
Under the Sea Art!
A little deep-sea project will help you dive on in! Here’s a little hidden image art project to make your own ocean space. What you’ll need:
- Art Paper
- White Oil Pastel
- Liquid Watercolor (Blues, Greens, Purples – Beware these can get messy and potentially stain)
- Construction Paper (optional)
- Crayons or markers (optional)
- Kid Scissors (optional)
While this art project only has two steps, it also has a million outcomes!
- On your art paper, use the white oil pastel to draw wavy lines all around. You may not be able to see them yet, but that’s where the magic comes in!
- Paint the liquid watercolors to cover the whole page, and you’ll see your oil pastel pictures come to life!
Additional Ideas? Using other supplies you have at home, draw some of your favorite sea creatures and plants to fill in your ocean floor!
I love process art like this because there is no “right” way to do it, it can take as long as you need (or can be quick and easy), and you can do this project over and over again with different results each time! I love the moment of reveal; it can really seem like magic for our kiddos.
Tropical Smoothie Time!
Finish off your trip with something a little special and sweet – a smoothie! I love making smoothies with kids. They’re an easy snack, generally healthy, and can really allow the kids to get involved. Bigger kids can help you measure or cut up the fruit pieces, but little ones love to help load everything into the blender too. It’s fun to watch those big chunks get churned and mixed and then come out as something totally new and delicious. My favorite ingredients:
- Pineapple! The key to making anything taste tropical
- Plain Yogurt or Whole Milk
- A little honey
Top it off with a little umbrella, and your whole family is basically sitting on the beach, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the “sun”.
Amelia’s been moving and grooving from day one. Her parents once told her that as a child she “wasn’t content until she could walk on her own.” Walking quickly turned into dancing, and she’s never stopped. Originally from Houston, Texas, Amelia spent her childhood trying to do anything she considered “artistic” until finally finding her passion in theatre and dance. She graduated from Northwestern University where she was a Theatre major, Dance minor, and graduated with a certificate in Music Theatre.
Working at Bubbles is a dream come true! The mixture of imagination, adventure, art, and music is perfect for Miss Amelia’s energetic and creative spirit. She has been working with young children since she was a teenager, and loves the opportunity Bubbles gives to combine her love of children with her love of the arts. When not working, she can be found on stage performing, teaching herself how to play musical instruments, and baking treats for friends!