February is here and it’s time to celebrate love and friendship with some really fun, yet easy to set up, Valentine’s Day Sensory Play Activities!
In our home we love doing monthly themed activities to celebrate different seasons, holidays or topics. It’s really fun for the kids and it also allows me to reuse craft supplies from previous months in different and creative ways.
Like you, I am a busy mom, so everything I make with the kids has to be simple to set up and not require too much prep time or fancy tools we don’t own. Also, I strive to find activities that are easy enough for the kids to do on their own but challenging enough so that they stay engaged with the activity.
This is where Sensory Play Activities come in!
For years, we’ve been doing sensory play activities because they usually engage all 5 senses, are great for developing gross and fine motors skills, and are also very entertaining for the kiddos. Plus, the supplies can be reused many times and turned easily into different themes.
The theme of the activities I’m sharing with you today is Valentine’s Day, however, you can easily use different colors, toys or supplies to turn it into another theme. And I am also sharing with you, 4 healthy treats (made with fruit) that your kids can give to their classmates or friends on Valentine’s Day. They take just a few minutes to prepare and are completely candy-free!
Check out my TV segment on Good Morning Washington where I show you how to make these 3 sensory play activities (you can also see it here on Facebook) or keep on scroll to read the instructions:
3 Fun Valentine’s Day Sensory Play Activities
All these activities should be done under adult supervision because they contain small parts.
Valentine’s Day Rice Sensory Bin:
What I love about this activity is that it’s very easy to set up and once your rice is ready all you have to do is add tiny toys to your bin and let your little ones explore.
- 1 bag of 2lbs of uncooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar
- Red and pink food coloring
- Valentine’s Day Themed tiny toys (scroll a little further down for the tiny toys ideas section)
- Sensory play tool set, play scoopers, jumbo tweezers or kid-friendly kitchen utensils
- A bin or bowl (I prefer to use this bin for sensory play activities and since I have 2 kids, each child gets their own bin. Plus since it has a lid, it’s easy to store for another day.
- Optional: 2 drops of Lavender essential oil
Dump the bag of uncooked white rice in your bin and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar. The vinegar will help the food coloring set in so that your child’s hand don’t end up all colorful.
Mix the vinegar and rice with a spoon.
Then add the food coloring. Start adding a few drops at a time until you reach the desired color. If you’re using several different colors, you will need to do this in separate bins.
Once you’re done, add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil if you desire. Lavender essential oil is kid-safe and also has relaxing and soothing properties.
Now all you have to do is wait – set the rice aside until it’s completely dried. To make this easier for my kids, since they don’t have a lot of patience, we usually dye the rice the night before and let it sit on our kitchen counter all night. This way you know when the kids wake up the rice will be throughly dried.
If you’re doing this as a same day activity, keep in mind that you will need about an hour for the dye to settle and the rice to be dry. Make sure you touch the rice before handing the bucket to your child to ensure it’s completely dry.
And now, the fun begins! Let your child add their favorite tiny toys into the bin and hide them in the rice.
Then using scoopers, tweezers, measuring spoons or any other kid-friendly kitchen supplies, let your kid find these tiny toys and pull them out of the box. If you have an older child you can make it a more complex activity by having them only pull out the toys in specific colors, or ask your child to count them, or even turn it into a scavenger hunt. For more ideas, click here.
After your child is done playing with it, don’t toss it out! The rice will stay good for quite a while. Store it for the next time your child wants to play with sensory rice.
Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottles – the easy way:
- 1 empty water bottle
- Clear hand soap
- Food coloring (optional)
- Decorations: glitter, sequins, pompoms and heart shape craft supplies (scroll a little further down for the supplies section)
To make this sensory bottle, I followed the instructions on this post – so make sure you click the link if you’re doing this sensory bottle. However, when it came to the decorations we added in the bottles we made sure they were all Valentine’s Day themed. Scroll down to see a list of tiny toys and Valentine’s Day themed supplies you can add to this bottle.
The base for this bottle is clear soap. You fill the bottle with about 2/3 of clear soap and the rest with warm water. Keep in mind that the more soap you add, the slower the beads, glitter and sequins will drop, and the more water you add, the faster they will drop. You can easily adjust this recipe to any bottle by following these proportions and easily troubleshoot by adding more water or soap until you reach the desired texture.
When we make sensory bottles, we usually do more than one at a time. We add different amounts of soap and water to each bottle as well as different types of decorations so the kids can observe what happens when you change things up.
Eco-friendly tip: reuse old bottles for this activity.
Valentine’s Day Counting and Matching Activity with Water Beads:
- Water beads (for this activity I wanted to use specific colors so I got this set that comes with water beads separated by color)
- Valentine’s Day Themed tiny toys (scroll a little further day for the tiny toys ideas section)
- Sensory play tool set, play scoopers, jumbo tweezers or kid-friendly kitchen utensils
- Bin (I use one of these bins for each kid and add 2 teaspoons of water beads per bin)
Water beads are tiny beads that you leave soaking in water and they grow, A LOT. They feel like a more compact jello and most children (as well as adults) love the feel of them. The water beads need to be sitting in water for several hours to reach their maximum size, which is why I like to set up the water beads the night before so they can grow overnight. It is a very fun surprise for the kids to wake up to!
Add 2 teaspoons of water beads to your bin or bowl. It will look like very little but believe me, they grow A LOT. Each of the bins pictured above has 2 teaspoons of water beads. If you’re using this type bin I recommend you don’t add more than 3 teaspoons or your beads will overflow.
The next morning (or after about 4 hours) your beads are ready to be used. Drain the water and let your kids have fun!
Here’s a more extensive guide on using water beads, but this is a simple activity too. All you have to do is dump little toys inside the bin and mix it up with the water beads. Then let your little one find the treasures. Use tweezers, scoopers or any other kid-friendly kitchen supplies to pull out the little toys – this helps develop your child’s fine motor skills.
Make it a matching game:
Get matching tiny toys, my preference is little erasers (they are listed below), and add them to the bin. Tell your child they have to find the matching pair. The more tiny toys you add, the more challenging this becomes!
Make it a counting game:
Set up a tray next to your water beads bin, and inside the tray place cookie cutters. Now tell your child to fill in each cookie cutter with water beads and to count as their filling up the cookie cutters. Once your child is done you can talk about how many beads they used, which cookie cutter fits more and why do they think that is.
You can make it a little more challenging by designing a specific color to each cookie cutter. This way your child has to find the correct color of each water bead.
Valentine’s Day Themed Tiny Toys and Decorations for Sensory Play Activities:
To play with your sensory bin you can use kid-friendly kitchen utensils, like spoons, measuring spoons, ice trays, tiny cups, etc. You can also buy scoopers and tweezers specifically designed for this. We opted for the second option and use these toys every we make sensory bins.
Here’s a look at out set up. I will put lots of craft supplies and little toys for the kids to add to their sensory bins:
Here are our favorite ones:
For sensory bins you need tiny toys and craft supplies. My recommendation is that you and your child look around the home to see what you have. You might be surprised to find you already own most of the supplies you need for this! Also, let your child get creative and choose the toys they want to play with. Your bin can look whichever way you want it to look!
Here are some tiny toys and decoration suggestions to turn your sensory bins and sensory bottle into a Valentine’s Day theme:
- Acrylic hearts (you can find other colors here)
- Foam hearts
- Heart sequins
- Acrylic Gems
- Clear acrylic diamonds
- Colorful acrylic diamonds
- Sequin set for crafts
- Holographic star sequins
- Assorted colorful sequins
- Chunky holographic glitter
- Assorted glitter
Tiny erasers are great for turning your sensory bin into a matching game:
You can use all these supplies for either one of the 3 activities!
Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats To Make for Friends:
Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating love and friendship! But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably not a fan of celebrating this with candy. That’s why fruit treats are such a great choice! And a really cute one too!
- For two of these healthy Valentine’s Day treats, the banana and oranges, all you need is a marker and write down the following text:
- On the Oranges: Orange you glad we met?
- On the bananas: I’m bananas for you!
- For the Clementines (cuties), print this label, put your cuties in a bag and tie them with a ribbon. You can find the full tutorial here along with a printable to the label.
- To make fruit wands all you need are blueberries and one strawberry. On a kebob stick, add one blueberry at the time. Then cut the bottom part of the strawberry in a triangle shape – this makes it look like a heart, and add it to top of your stick. Place them in a bag and tie them with a ribbon so they intact.
Pretty simple, right? I made all of these treats in under 10 minutes! And look how cute they look.
Now it’s your turn and I want to see your creations! Follow me on Instagram (@mamainstincts) and tag me if you make any of these crafts or treats.
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