Running a daycare may sound like an easy job, but believe me, it’s no easy task. Although I try my hardest to keep the kids on a set schedule, I’m only one person and sometimes I have to take time out to clean up after an activity or make lunch. For this, we have a few different free play times during the day. The kids can get pretty bored with the same toys week after week so I make an effort to switch things around every few weeks.
One area the kids love and is easily changed is the sensory area. I have a small mirror, a light table, and then there is the rainbow rice sensory bin which I can say, without a doubt, is their favorite. There’s really not much to a sensory bin and keeps kids seriously entertained. The kids sit around filling and emptying cups into other containers, pretending theyre making food or pretending their digging things up all from this simple bin of colored rice! This can easily be changed by adding different toys to match a weekly theme or holiday.
I learned how to color rice from Artful Homemaking here. It was pretty easy. I bought a big 10 lb bag of rice (which ended up being waaay too much) seperated it into 5 different bowls and died it using alcohol, food coloring and a few drops of water. I let it dry overnight and threw it all together in a big plastic bin from Target. I added in all kinds of different things to keep the kids busy;empty and cleaned bottles, spoons, cups, measuring cups etc. I also love to change the things in the bin according to holidays. We just had a really cute one for Halloween that the kids really enjoyed.
Although I keep this outside in the garage/playroom, I do occasionally bring it in the house if we have kids visiting or my daughter has a friend over from school. Most kids never played with something like a sensory bin, so it’s a treat!
Here’s a peak at what ours looks like
we also have some alphabet magnets just for fun! And chance I get to throw some learning and letter recognition I’m all in!
A couple weeks ago my daughter had winter vacation from school. In October? Really? Its still hot outside! Anyway, this meant her and another school aged girl would be at daycare all week. It’s quite a challenge to keep all the kids entertained and happy whenever the girls are on break from school. The older kids want nothing to do with the little kid activities. “These are easy peasy” they say, as they zip through coloring pages and scissor practice sheets. Well, excuuuuse me!
I knew i had to set up some type of activity that the girls would love and that would keep them busy for longer than 15 minute increments. Off to Pinterest I go! I looked up some daycare dramatic play ideas and found tons of cute things. One thing about me, I’m very frugal! I love to use what I have on hand, buy at the dollar store, or just make myself! I came across a few different play doh bakery ideas. I thought, this would be great for the girls and I had everything I needed on hand to set this up!
First I pinned a few different ideas just to generalize what I wanted to do. I loved the idea from The Imagination Tree here and loved the FREE (my favorite word!) printables from Very Little Bear here. With these I created my own little dramatic play bakery in our garage/playroom. Our version may not be as pretty as the others but it did the job and the kids all loved it! It kept them occupied the entire week and they begged to play bakery every day.
The play doh the kids used was a homemade recipe I found on Pinterest from How Does She here . Although regular play doh isn’t expensive, this is fun to make and in my opinion stays squishy longer.
I set up a big table and made a sign out of some poster board I had. The kids loved the sign. I also set up a cordless phone and cash register for them. We pretended I was calling in orders as some of the took the orders, made them, then delivered them to me.
I used some mason jars And Popsicle sticks I had and let them make lollipops. I think this was their favorite part, no one wanted to “bake” anything else.
In the end this was definitely a success an something I know I will use again in the future.