This activity took J’s matching skills up a notch and was cheap, very easy to prepare and from start to finish allowed for lots of play time.
First, we got some of those growing sponges from the dollar section as Target. I have no clue what these are actually called, but they come in little pill shapes and grow in warm water? I gave J a few new ones to play with during bathtime over the past few days. He’s still entertained by 2 or 3 at a time, so I might as well get good use out of that dollar. I tried implementing some learning during this time, keeping one in hot water and one in cooler water to see which grew the fastest. On another night we kept one still in a cup and the other he got to pour from one cup to the other to see if that made it grow faster. Honestly though, J was paying little attention to the mini-science experiment and just wanted to play with them.
We saved all the sponge creatures and when he finished the entire package I dried them all out and stored them with the packaging for a rainy day. On the back of the package, there is a silhouette of each creature along with its name. I cut those out into individual pieces and had J match the sponge creature to its silhouette. I keep a few different sets of these in ziploc baggies to pull out every now and then. As he improves, I increase the number to match each time. He thinks it’s a puzzle (and he loves puzzles).
This type of matching is actually a little more difficult because…
- they aren’t matching two exact items but rather an object and an image
- there is a size difference in the objects and images
- the silhoueete factor means there is little detail to each object and image, forcing to look at the outline of each object (and J often does not actually know what the object is so he must focus on shape)
- the colors of the image and object aren’t always the same
Age attempted: around 33 months
When I was posting on the Mini Car Wash, I came across a photo that reminded me of something other mom’s might find useful during bathtime..
J has gone through phases where he HATED water in his face. I have always just dumped and moved on, sometimes he was ok with that sometimes he was NOT. I did try to teach him to hold his head up, but fear always made him tilt it right back down.
And then we happened upon this little “game” during bathtime. I got him to try to catch the water dripping from his head in a cup. Getting him focused on this was just what he needed to forget about the water in his face. It works so well for him. In fact if you look closely at the photo, you can see water droplets falling from his eyelashes too, but he could care less since he’s focused elsewhere.
As he got better with catching the water, we moved to containers with smaller openings to increase the difficulty. He likes to try and fill up a bottle, douse the toy fish inside a bowl, drip water onto those little growing sponges, or even get the stream to flow in between his fingers.
We don’t play this game every bathtime anymore since he will now hold his head up. But every now and then he wants to play it again.
I imagine this game would work unless your little one has very short hair since the water needs to drip off the longer hair to form streams.
Age attempted: 2 years
I recently read Val’s post about surving the winter with extra fun at bath time (see it here) and was reminded of how I used to set up a car wash for J’s cars. It keeps him busy.
You could do this in the bathtub, near the kitchen sink, outside in the summer or wherever you’re brave enough to try. J gets a “dirty” bin, a wash bin, and rinse bin. When he’s in the tub I leave off the rinse bin and he just rinses them in the tub. Our bins come from the Target dollar section (or maybe their $2.50 section??).
The cleaning supplies he gets is random, a spray bottle, sponges, a dipper (measuring cup), a medicine dropper and a toothbrush all work well though they definitely don’t need all that. He typically lines up all the cars, spray them down, soaps them off with a sponge, rinses and then line them back up (either to be washed again or to “dry”).
You could have them wash their “pets” (plastic animal figures) or girls might like to give their dolls a bath.
Age attempted: These photos are when J was 29 months old; this could easily be done by pretoddlers and might even be entertaining for preschoolers (no experience there yet!)