Easy Sensory Bin for under $10

I'm not sure about you, but sometimes (and I'm saying this when it's been raining for 3 days, and we've all just about had it with each other and this house) it's just necessary to have some sort of activity at the ready when the kiddos are getting restless.

Who me? I never get restless...

Wait. An endless activity, perfect for rainy days, and only $10? Yes, my friends, it's true. And here's how I did it!

First, I went to Target and rummaged through their $1 bin. I know I've mentioned this before, but I cannot tell you how much I love this! Here's what I found: perfect little tongs sized for Miss E, little Chevron patterned buckets, and mini-scoops. After grabbing some rice and split peas, we were ready to go!

I had the plastic bin and dinosaurs at home already. I poured in the rice and split peas...

Then added all the fun goodies...

I collected some tops from Mr. C's pouches of food when we're on the go. I thought it added some nice color, and gave Miss E something to dig for.

After giving Miss E the rules of her new bin (nothing in the mouth, and when you pour it has to be over the bin), she was ready to go!!

And don't forget the clean up! Miss E is always at the ready when it comes to cleaning the house. Picking up her toys? Maybe not. But using a "sweeper" to help mommy? Absolutely!

Miss E asks to play with this every single day. I try to limit it to a few times a week to keep it new, and so I can use it to my advantage (Cooking dinner, anyone? This is a perfect distraction!). That being said, it's perfect to incorporate into Tot School every day. Just switch out the smaller items with the theme you're using that week. I just happened to have dinosaurs lying around, and they were perfect for this bin.

A few things: Our bin is small. Homes in our area are small and expensive, so it is what it is. I have a friend who made a much larger one, and it is AWESOME. But we just don't have the space to store something like that. Secondly, we used rice. I love the color contrast with the split peas, but it is a bit messier than if I had used any sort of dried beans. You can see the dust from the rice on my jeans in the above picture, as well as on Miss E's face in the first picture.

And that's it! It took me no time at all, it was super cheap to do, and most importantly, it's a crowd pleaser! Even Mr. C enjoys watching his sister play, and helps by spraying all of the rice all over the room with his hands. That's what we have vacuums for, right?

Now get to it!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Tot School: Spring Has Sprung!

Miss E ~ 28 months

This week was one of those weeks that there was just no time to plan, but seeing that we've been so stinking busy in April, I wanted to finish the month off strong. Miss E has had her colors confused for quite some time (except for purple, of course) so I thought for Tot School this week, we could combine our spring theme and colors for a week. And I'm so happy we did! We got outside, got to know our colors a bit more, and I got to see Miss E get creative with the activities I set up for her.

First of all, if you haven't been around the DC Metro area in the past 1-2 weeks, let me just tell you something. It has been GORGEOUS! Like the perfect kind of spring. Really. It's kind of making the winter that never ended seem like a distant memory. Sort of.

What better way than to discover the colors around us than to explore spring? That's exactly what we did. For our first day of Tot School this week, we went for a nature walk. And then we did it Every. Single. Day. Both Mr. C and I loved getting the fresh air, and it was such a joy to see Miss E discovering all of the beautiful colors nature provides.

"Lots' of yellows, mommy!"

"It's kind of like light yellow, mommy."

"You take this home."

For each walk, we focused on one color. Green was the obvious, as it's bursting in everywhere you turn. We also focused on yellow, pink, red, and purple. As a side note, Miss E thought it was hilarious that blueberries tend to have a "dark purpur" (purple) color. How observant!

Here we are shamelessly discovering someone else's tulips. Since mine are already spent. Sigh...

Azalea's are now one of Miss E's favorite spring flowers. There are a TON in our area, and it seems to blow her mind that they come in all sorts of shapes and colors. Too cute.

Since Miss E is an apple that hasn't fallen far from my tree, the kid loves to organize things. Enter our color sorters! I found an awesome pair of little tongs in the $1 bin at Target. I had been searching for something a little easier for her little hands to work on fine motor skills. Clothes pins and regular tweezers were just a bit too challenging (which = frustrating). Finally! That bin never seems to fail me. (And I love how it's parked right near the entrance so I never forget to stop by :)

I just pulled out some of the 4 ounce cups I use for Mr. C's baby food, gave some basic instructions, and Miss E went to town. We went back and forth, suggesting which colors to choose next. So much fun.

And since she had commented on the purple blueberries, I thought it might be the perfect chance to make colors "real world" for her. I grabbed some of her play food, and had her add them to the puffy balls. What a hit! She did this activity over and over and over again. I think I'll add it in next week, too.

I cannot tell you how much this correspondence has changed the way she sees colors. She now brings them up all the time as she observes her surroundings, and it just makes me so stinking happy.

We also have these awesome foam letters that I had originally bought for the bath when Miss E was just a baby. Well, long story short, they never made it there. Miss E did this sorting on her own... I'll let the picture explain itself:

Love her tongue sticking out to the side. Thinking hard!
Here's one of my favorite shots of the week, during our quiet time.

If she wants to read, I'm not going to tell her where to do it.

In addition to the above activities, we colored A LOT, read books with the themes of colors and Spring, and I really let Miss E forge the way. We also did some gardening, but unfortunately missed the photo ops (between keeping Miss from throwing dirt, and Mr. C from eating it). I'm usually a planned activities kind of girl, but that's what I'm loving about Tot School. As long as Miss E is engaged, she's learning!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda

Where I'm linking up this week!
Tot School at 1+1+1=1
No Time for Flashcards


Hello, April! (And farewell, too, since I guess you're almost over. How'd that happen?)

I've been a little absent for the past month, mostly just because I didn't really notice April had come, and now it's almost gone.

To quote one of Miss E's (current) favorite books right now, "Hubba-What?!?" I know. I can't believe April's almost over either.

To catch you up to speed, I thought I'd do a little, well, catching up. We've had visitors and Easter and more visitors.  There've been some sick days and teething, but mostly warm days where it just wasn't possible to spend a moment inside.

Tot School has gone somewhat off the radar. The thought has been there, and Miss E has been learning SO much, but I just haven't had the time to begin to prepare for any sort of structured activities. This week has been better, so you'll just have to stay tuned for next week's update :)

On to April. Well, rather spring. There was actually a point in time when I didn't think it would ever come. And it's here! It's really, really here! Green pollen and everything!

Daffodils = Spring!

Easter was SO. MUCH. FUN. this year. Seriously. I think during Christmastime, Miss E was still just a smidge young to really get into the magic of it all. But Easter? She loved it!

Not the best quality picture, but I just love the look on her face.
She was so excited to get her Easter basket!

A great friend of ours gave Miss E this giant Easter egg last year, and I decided to keep it for this year. So happy I did! You know what a giant Easter egg holds? MANY SMALLER EASTER EGGS! Honestly this could have been what we did every day and Miss E would have been in heaven. It also led to some really nice Tot School moments, even though they weren't planned.

In addition opening and closing each and every egg a gazillion times, we played a matching game with them. I just found some trinkets in Mr. Kuda's desk drawer to hide under each half. She loved it!

We made cards for the grandparents...

We went up to a sweet little farm where they have an annual Bunnyland Festival. There weren't any bunnies, but lots of sweet activities for the kiddos. Since Miss E is TERRIFIED of live animals other than her dog, I think her favorite part was the playground. Despite this, we had a great time with all of our friends, and it even included a stop on the way to Chick-Fil-A. In my opinion, any day with C of A cannot be bad!

Did I mention it was frigid during the week of Easter?

Poor guy. He's always there, but never enough pictures of his sweet face.

She'll kill me for this one day, but how stinking cute?!
We even had a great Easter egg hunt with the neighborhood kids the day after Easter because we had a rainy Sunday. Miss E loved this because it was like Christmas two days in a row. There were jelly beans! She couldn't believe I was actually letting her eat (some of) them.

So that was Easter! I know it didn't fall in April this year, but it may as well have. Here's a tidbit more of what we've done so far...

We visited the Cherry Blossoms in DC.

Gran came for a visit...

We even discovered some nature (with chosen walking stick, of course)...

And we got to hang out with some old friends...

I love this picture for So. Many. Reasons.

I think it's safe to say we've had a successful spring so far! I'm so excited for this summer to get under way. Here's praying for more sleep, no sick, and lots of fun in the upcoming months!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Tot School: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Miss E ~ 27 Months

I have two totally related, but somewhat off-topic things to say about this week. First, we don't OWN The Very Hungry Caterpillar. WHAT?! I hadn't realized it until we were at the library a couple of weeks ago searching for 'H' books, when I discovered a barely used copy, then promptly snatched it up as Miss E LOVES butterflies. And since spring is on it's way (or so I thought on that particular warm-ish day), I thought it would be a perfect break from our letters as we lead into the week before Easter.

Second, Miss E says "Catta-killer" instead of caterpillar. I almost can't stand the cuteness, and it makes me want to freeze her in time and never let her grow up. It's that cute.

On to Tot School! We had SUCH A FUN WEEK. I have to shout that to you because it really was just so natural. I definitely worked harder to get things together, but the activities just flowed so nicely, and it really felt like a successful Tot School week.

We actually started over the weekend with reading the book. By the time we started structured activities, she was so excited! We even wore some awesome socks for the occasion...

Can I just say that Pinterest was my hero this week? In addition to the Tot Pack, I found a ton of fun stuff on Pinterest, too. Our first activity was to paint a leaf, and we used a white cotton ball as the egg. Miss E got a kick out of it.

The mom from Mommy Montage found this awesome video. Miss E loved it! Such a hit, and she requested to watch the "catter-killer" change into a butterfly over and over again.

Since the book is so colorful, we decided to do some much needed work on colors. I'm pretty sure Miss E knows all of them, but every once and awhile she throws me for a loop. Since she's really into glueing, we made a colorful caterpillar! Then we used puffy balls to match the colors. I used a different number for each color, so we also worked on counting. She was "eh" about this activity after the glueing stopped. I will say she asked to do it again tonight, so I think I'll keep it out next week, too.

I know it's hard to see, but she was particularly sensitive
about the camera this week. Two-year olds. Sheesh.
The next day, I found her doing this in her bedroom... Organizing her bows by colors. I think it's starting to make sense to her!

We did a bunch of Tot School Packs, with the most focus on color ID and tracing. I also laminated the size/sequence caterpillars and butterflies, which she liked, too.

Look at the beginning of the week above, versus the end of the week below. She's really starting to figure it out!

I loved listening to her complete this: "First, he eats straight, then he eats zig-zag, then he eats square, then he eats wavy lines!"

We matched different fruit found in the book to the corresponding colors. Miss E liked it best when I placed the colors, and the she took one picture at a time to match them.

She also enjoyed matching the fruits/colors this way:

And here, Miss E was completing the small to large sequencing:

And of course, since glueing is her main squeeze right now, we counted (and glued) to complete a depiction of the life cycle of the caterpillar/butterfly. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but I wrote down the numbers so she could match them. We even put the corresponding number of "glue dots" to glue each piece. She just loved it.


I could keep going (we did so much this week!), but I think this shows a pretty good portion of what we did. Of course, Mr. C was there to help along the way...

How sweet are they? So much love.
And one more for good measure... I'm starting to see such an amazingly sweet relationship between these two grow. It melts my heart!

I mean seriously. I almost can't take it!
Melts. My. Heart.
That's it for Tot School this week!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda
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