Since this week is going to be all about watermelons, I thought it was appropriate to begin our fun with some sensory play. This took place by simply cutting a watermelon into slices and then watching my toddler explore. It turns out that watermelon is a great “material” to use for sensory play. Not only does it have texture and is edible (a must for my toddler), but it is colorful and has many dimensions–the rind (which is hard), the “flesh” (which is squishy) and the seeds (which are slimy). Although I did let my toddler explore the seeds, I had to be on guard so that he wouldn’t eat them (because like everything else, he wanted to). Sure, the seeds wouldn’t harm him if eaten, but why would I let him eat the seeds when I don’t? The caution about this sensory play is that it is super messy and the “water” is actually sugar water so it is super sticky. Try to aim for a warm day when you can head outdoors : )
Of all the things a mom can pull out of her kitchen cupboard and give to her toddler for an amazingly good time, Jello has got to be the cheapest and easiest to make.
Prepare the Jello according to the package directions (remember that it has to “set up” in the fridge for a bit) and serve with a nice side of toddler-friendly utensils. My toddler loves to use a spatula and a handheld strainer (in addition to his hands!) to stir, mash and smear the Jello all around his play space. For added fun and exploration, create what I call “Jello-scapes”. Our favorite is a safari Jello-scape. Use green Jello and a pack of wild animal figurines to create a safari adventure. These small, realistic-looking figures are perfect for toddlers…perfect for little hands, yet not too small for those who are still in the oral-fixation phase, they aid in animal identification and they can be used in a variety of toddler activities!
Here are some other Jello-scapes that utilize these inexpensive figurines…
Ocean adventure–blue Jello and a pack of underwater creatures
On the Farm–green Jello and a pack of farm animals
Dinosaurs–green Jello and a pack of dinosaur animals
At the Zoo–blue and green Jello and a pack of Zoo animals
In the Woods–blue and green Jello and a pack of woodland creatures
Looking for a healthier Jello alternative? If your toddler is anything like mine, he STILL loves to put things in his mouth. Because I know he will want to taste-test the Jello, I make a healthier alternative that suits our lifestyle. Here is a quick and easy recipe from the coconutmama:
- 4 cups fresh squeezed fruit juice or coconut water
- 3 tablespoons grass fed gelatin (add 1 more tbs if you like your jello really firm)
- 3 tablespoons honey (optional)
Directions Pour juice in a medium size saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin powder over juice and stir. Turn the heat on medium-low and bring the juice to a simmer. Mix until gelatin is dissolved. Turn off heat and add honey if using. Pour into a 8×8 square baking dish. Refrigerate until jello is set, about 2 hours.