Water STEAM Sensory Science STEM Infant Baby Toddler Simple

Wonderful Water Sensory Science

Science experiences that include sensory activities are particularly beneficial for infants.Using nature as a laboratory, you can freely:

  1. Explore and stimulate their senses and learning

  2. Model how to observe science in our world

  3. Record experiences with photographs or videos

  4. Collect samples together

  5. Process your samples in different ways with your baby/child

  6. Learn how to preserve or protect your samples together

  7. Model how to use all your senses to examine your samples up close

  8. Sort, compare, and organize your samples together

  9. Have fun with your samples while learning what excites and stimulates learning for your child

  10. Discover ways to share your interests with your baby

One of the best ways to explore the world with your child is to use their curiosity and interest levels as a guide as to what to focus on. Nurture THEIR natural curiosity as it maximizes and enriches their experiences and stimulates and excites their senses. 

Instead of directing them to look at what you think is interesting all the time, take the time to watch them and find out what they think is interesting. Children enjoy and remember experiences better when they get a chance to observe and follow their own curiosity.

Once something catches your child’s interest,
start asking them questions.

“Oh, that is a cool rock/stick/leaf/whatever. What color is it? How big is it? What do you think that spot is? How does it feel?”

Get them thinking about what they see.

“That water is a river and it flows ALL the way down to the ocean.”

“See how this millipede has lots of tiny legs? Watch how they all move together to help it move.”

“Have you noticed how all the leaves are falling off the trees? What do all these leaves have in common? Have they changed from the way the leaves looked on the trees?”


Whatever catches their interest, get interested in yourself.

Let your child get dirty, pick things up, touch them, turn them around and look at them. The more excitement and interest you show, the more they will be and the more connected you will feel to each other.

Some Examples of Child-Focused Exploration

Drawing on my own experience, I often refer to hiking. Of course, you don’t have to go on a hike to practice child-led exploration. It can be done on a walk around town, the local park, or in your backyard. Child-led exploration is about stepping back and seeing the world through your child’s eyes. Then, you can ask questions and investigate whatever grabs their attention.


This is one of my favorite ways to practice child-focused exploration. I pick an area with a lot of trails and my son picks where we go (within reason of course).

Sometimes that means leaving the trail and walking along a river beach.

It might mean walking the same bit of trail several times.

However, it always means making some great discoveries. Many of the most magical spots we have explored were areas I never would have found if I wasn’t following my son’s lead.

We stop to look at things. A lot!

It’s not about the distance we hike or making it to a particular destination. Child-focused hiking is about being together in nature and observing your surroundings.

It is spending half an hour walking on the same fallen tree and looking at the tangle of roots. When we see ducks, we watch (and count) them for as long as my son wants to. I’ll ask questions about the colors of the feathers and talk about how their feet are webbed so they can move through the water better. Then, we look at our own hands to see how they are different from the webbed feet of the ducks.

Watching the ducks after climbing on a fallen tree

There are times that he gets interested in some less than pleasant things, like a dead fish. Instead of steering him away from it, we talk about how it smells bad. I show him how the flies and other bugs are feeding on it and talk about the circle of life. How this fish has a purpose even now. I encourage everyone to embrace all situations and not to shy away from a topic that you may not like. Follow ALL of their curiosities.

In the Park/Yard

You don’t have to go hiking to explore nature. There is so much in the local park or your yard. We watch ants, find all the colors of the rainbow, and observe the difference between green and brown leaves (see how the brown ones are crunchier?)

When I found a slug in our yard, I picked it up and showed the boys how it stuck to whatever it was on. We watched how it shriveled up to protect itself when it was scared. We touched it and felt how slimy it was. Then, we returned to slug the grass to, as my son says, “go back to its family”.

My baby boy going to touch the slug I found in the yard

His favorite thing to find is worms. They are fascinating and we have spent many hours looking under rocks and finding worms together.

Walking Around Town

You’d be surprised how much you can observe and explore walking around town. When your child wants to stop and look at flowers, let them. Point out the differences you see in the flowers and ask if they can find some on their own. Look at the colors and shapes. This sharpened their observational skills and got them thinking about these concepts.

Let your child dictate what streets to walk down. Let them set the pace. If they want to sit and look at the clouds, help them find shapes. Talk about how the clouds are moved across the sky because of the wind just like you can feel on the ground.

Stop as often as they want to look at plants, rocks, leaves, and even dead worms!

For the next month, practice child-focused exploration whenever and wherever you can. Let your child’s curiosity be your guide.

Child-led exploration is about letting them be curious. It is getting over your expectations and allowing your child to be in control. See what interests them and then ask them and then ask them questions.

Tell them everything you can about what they are observing. Encourage them to look closer, to touch, to smell.

Learn to see nature and the world through your child’s eyes and observe the simple, the strange, and the extraordinary through your child’s eyes.

Everyone learns best when they are interested, especially children. That is why child-focased exploration is so important.

STEM for Infants and Toddlers Infants, toddlers and twos naturally approach the world with the same curiosity required to learn and explore the foundations of
science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

What is Early Stem All About Brain Building in Progress 

• Science is a way of thinking. 

• Technology is a way of using tools
• Engineering is a way of problem solving
• Math is a way of measuring.

Understanding the world around them is one of the strongest predictors of
young children’s later science learning and reading, and a significant predictor of mathematics.

How do Infants and Toddlers develop science skills and knowledge?

Natural curiosity (such as intently watching an adult’s expressions and actions) Readiness to repeat actions that have an interesting effect Need to explore and make sense of the world Children Learn STEM

• Through their five senses and hands-on experiences 

• Babies communicate interests through kicking their feet or hands in excitement. • Smiling, gurgling, and squealing 

• As they get older, they ask questions. 

Encourage them with Open Ended Questions 

• Why? 

• When? 

• Where? 

• What? What would happen if...

• How? 

How Can We Support STEM for Infants and Toddlers 

• Provide interesting open ended materials

• Join your infants and toddlers in their exploration
• Connect experiences to what children have done or experienced before Experiential Learning
• “Young children build their learning and understanding about the world through everyday play experiences.”
• Experiential learning begins at birth.
• Introduce STEM to babies and toddlers by talking, reading and playing with them.

• Babies and Toddlers learn STEM by actively engaging with their caregivers and through their sensory experiences.
• The foundation for future experiences is formed through everyday sensory activities. 

•Babies investigate the world through their five senses. 

Any water day
is a fun day

Check out the collection of activities that include making observations with sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. 

Water play is a perfect outdoor activity for babies and toddlers on warm summer days. Add materials gathered in nature to a simple sink or float activity to provide some awesome hands on learning and sensory play

When doing STEAM activities for babies do not leave any amount of water unsupervised. Have a plan to add water to your activities together. 

Exploring Absorption of Liquids
and Moving Liquids

Discovering Sponges through Water Play

Whenever Buddy and I have fun with a messy activity, I like to have a water activity set up too. This naturally extends our play time and it means I get him cleaned up without any protest – that’s a bonus on both counts!

After we had fun with our paper plate painting with edible paint Buddy enjoyed discovering sponges in his water tub.

Setting It Up

Obviously it requires a bit more preparation to set up two plays at once, however I find it reduces tears and tantrums when the messy play is over and the clean up operation begins.


This one was beautifully simple to set up as we played in the wet room. We don’t have a bath in our house and the bucket he is playing with is actually his bath tub. Fortunately he loves bath time so he is always happy to play with his tub.

I set the tub up with a variety of household sponges in the corner of the room. Buddy didn’t even notice it until he grew bored with painting and began to explore other things in the room.


Buddy was excited to see his bathtub filled with objects. He cracked out a huge smile and plunged straight in.


As expected he fished out the cow sponge. He loves chewing it, engorging it with water and trying to drink it, waving it…. The list is endless.



He played with it for a good while before (finally) looking into the tub again. This time he located the big shower puff sponge.



He spent some time flapping it about and pulling at the netting. He has never touched this sponge before so it was fun to see him investigate it.



He got soaking wet playing with the sponges but really enjoyed it!

Next I popped him in the tub to scrub up and to explore the other sponges. He enjoyed chewing on the scouring sponge, I think it felt nice against his sore gums.



He enjoyed touching the scouring pad and spent time scratching his nails through it. He seemed pretty impressed by the noise it made.


He then had a good poke at all of the cloths and sponges and enjoyed splashing them in the water, cleaning himself in the process!

This was a really fun way to clean up from an exciting messy play. Buddy had fun and we avoided all melt downs! Now I’m just biding my time until he can help me clean up the mess we make too!

Have I convinced you that sponges need to be in your chilrens toy box? They are also featured as blocks in the STEAM construction and Building page. I just love their versatality. Let me continue...

Sponges as Loose Parts in the Playroom

Pick up a package of colourful dollar store sponges to add to your collection of loose parts in the playroom. Here, I’ll tell you all the creative ways my littles explored and played with ours in a mere half hour the other day.

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – Fred Donaldson

This is just a short, little post with an important message:  Never underestimate the potential for play that even the simplest of items provide.


My husband came home from grocery shopping the other day, and tossed me a sleeve of brightly coloured kitchen sponges, and said “I picked these up for a dollar.  I thought you and the hooligans might be able to use them for something”.  He’s such a great guy. 🙂

Sponges for Loose Parts Play

My wheels started turning, thinking about all of the things we could do with them, but it was getting late in the day and there wasn’t enough time left to start a craft or to use our sponges for an art project.

I put the sponges in basket and simply presented them to the kids that way to see what they would do with them.


First of all, you should have heard the squeals of delight and the ooohs and ahhhhs, when I placed the basket on a table in the playroom.  You’d have thought the basket was filled with candy.

It’s so great when kids get excited over the simple things.There was no question that THEY could see the possibilities that this basket held.


That’s the beauty of “loose parts” for play. Open-ended items that have no pre-defined purpose opens the door for all kinds of creative and imaginative play, which won’t happen nearly enough with toys that are “meant” to be played with in a certain way.

All hands were scrambling to grab as many as they could, and the basket was quickly emptied, and they headed off to do what they do best.

coloured sponges in a basket

For the next half hour, until they children went home, these sponges were the main attraction. Each child played with them in their own way.

I took a few photos to show you how they were being used.


They were the key pieces in a construction site here.

sponges used for play - pretend construction site


Someone used them as building blocks to build a tower.

sponges used as building blocks


They became beds for the animals.

4 coloured sponges with toy animals on them


The kids used them as obstacles to drive their toy cars around.

playing with coloured sponges and toy cars


There was also pretend scrubbing of toys happening, which I didn’t photograph, and they each rubbed their hands and faces with the sponges, describing the scouring side as “scratchy and rough” and the soft side as “squishy”.


The sponges even encouraged some critical thinking: at the end of the day, before the the last child left, she tucked all of the sponges into the doll house. Notice how she arranged each sponge with the thin scouring surface facing to the right.

sponges lined up in the dollhouse

Who would have thought a little sleeve of coloured sponges would present so many opportunities for learning and imaginative play.

child stacking colourful dollar store sponges

I’m sure we’ll eventually use these sponges for various arts and craft projects. but for now, I think we’ll just keep them in the toy room, and enjoy the open-ended play possibilities they provide.

 Sensory Science Bottles with Water

Our Nature Sorting Sensory Bottles is just one example of a wonderful visual and tactile learning experience

Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles - Nature Discovery Activity for Kids!

Important vocabulary related to nature sorting







Let’s count!


Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles - Nature Discovery Activity for Kids!

Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles - Nature Discovery Activity for Kids!
What you need for sensory bottles:
  1. Voss water bottles – they are so pretty, and the label peels off easily compared to other bottles! However, any clear recycled bottle will work.

  2. Leaves, flowers, plants

  3. Water

  4. Optional: Adhesive remover – there was very little sticky residue on our Voss water bottles, so we skipped this step.  However, I have found other water brand labels to be more difficult to remove and require adhesive remover.

How to set up the sorting bottles activity:
  1. Remove labels from bottle; wash and dry bottle

  2. Place one type of leaf in each bottle

  3. Arrange other leaves in piles for younger toddlers; older children may enjoy a challenge by mixing the leaves together!

  4. Insert leaves to matching bottle

  5. Add water

  6. Close lid tightly

  7. Let your child shake and observe!

Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles - Nature Discovery Activity for Kids!

Nature sensory bottle teaching tips:

  1. Show your child how you carefully handle each leaf

  2. Let your child explore quietly without interruptions

  3. When the opportunity arises, ask him or her what she sees, feels, smells, and hears!

Leaf Sorting Sensory Bottles - Nature Discovery Activity for Kids!

Our observations from our nature sorting sensory bottles

Over the course of the day, some of the leaves in the sensory bottles may change the color of the water!

I wish I had a photo of the beautiful amber color that developed from the reddish leaves!

Why You will Want a Water Table (and 10 creative ways to use one!)

Those of you who are familiar with my blog are no stranger's to Brandons fantastic expressions.  A few weeks back the Seattle weather, normally rainy until JULY, gave us a little summer teaser and baby X got his first experience with our water table. The photos were just too good to not share, so I thought I'd write a little post about why we love water tables. 

For those of you with water tables already, there are TEN creative ideas for how to use them at the end of the post.  :)

Brandon loves water.  LOVES it.  And water is really one of the best (and free!) sensory materials ever.  There's warm water, cold water, ice - so many ideas and ways to play using just water.  For the littlest guys, water tables are a great way to practice standing and cruising and splashing.

You can introduce fine motor practice by placing items in the water table for grabbing (please note the items pictured are not baby toys, and do pose a choking hazard - Brandon has an older sister and is always supervised and an adult is always within arms' reach).

As Brandon illustrates here - water tables are just THE COOLEST.  We bought our first water table when S was 10 months old and we've used it constantly ever since.  As X gets older, he'll begin to use the water table to practice scooping and pouring like his big sister does now.

Honestly my kids really enjoy a water table with, well, water, but you can spice it up a bit if you are so inclined.  And for those of you with long winters like us here in Seattle, a cleaned/dried water table makes a fantastic indoor sensory table during the colder months (you could fill it with sand, moon sand, birdseed, dried beans - the possibilities are nearly endless!).

For those of you who already have a water table or for those of you who will soon have one, here are ten fun ways to use your water table this summer:

Add some soap and set up a Washing Station like ours.

 Make a fun outdoor Penguin World that also helps you practice counting like Thrive 360 Living

Make a Dinosaur Sensory Bin like Fantastic Fun and Learning

Do some Sensory Tub Painting like No Time for Flashcards

Add in some letter practice and make Alphabet Soup like My Nearest and Dearest

Explore colors with Colored Ice like Fun-a-Day

Create a Spring Sensory Table like The Pleasantest Thing

Create an Ocean Sensory Tub like No Time for Flashcards

Set up a Marshmallow Sensory Play like Fantastic Fun and Learning

Have some Fizzy Fun like My Nearest and Dearest

You can incorporate all sorts of learning activity into water play such as fine motor, scooping and pouring, color mixing, counting, etc.

It’s fun, sometimes messy, and can be done inside and out!

Are you ready to have some fun?

Water Sensory Bins

Get out the rubber duckies for this fun Pond Sensory Bin from In Our Pond.

Add lemons to the water for a fun Lemon Sensory Bin from Fantastic Fun and Learning.

Play with letters in water with this fun Alphabet Sensory Bin from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds. These awesome letters and numbers from Little Tikes are perfect for using with water!

Combine flower petals with water for this Flower Petal Sensory Play idea from Fantastic Fun and Learning.

Add some sharks to water for this fun Shark Sensory Bin from Mommy’s Bundle.

Have fun scooping with this fun and simple Scooping Blocks Sensory Bin from My Bored Toddler.

Play with sand and water with this fun Ocean Sensory Bin from Fun Learning for Kids.

Practice sorting colors with this fun Color Sorting Water Bin from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds.

Large plastic bins are perfect to use for indoor water play. Try a plastic underbed storage bin. It’s shallow, for easy access and has a lid so an adult can move it with minimal mess. Put a large beach towel underneath to soak up any spills.

Outdoor Water Fun

Have fun painting with water with this low-mess and super-fun outdoor activity from Mama Smiles.

Get out the hose and spray at targets with this fun idea from Busy Toddler.

Water the alphabet flowers with this fun driveway activity from Fun Learning for Kids.

Get out the water sprinklers and have some fun using these tips from Rhythms of Play.

Throw some fun Sponge Water Bombs with this fun idea from Messy Little Monster.

Paint your driveway with water with this fun idea from Hands On As We Grow.

An outdoor water table is a great investment for water play. You can choose a simple water table or a fun, themed water table like this pirate ship.

Seashell Beach Sensory Bin

Water is a must-have over the summer. Grab a bunch of seashells from the beach (or at the dollar store) and make a fun sensory bin by adding water, a few drops of food coloring, and the seashells. The bigger the seashells, the better little learners who are still working on grasping can have an easier time holding the shells.

Car Wash

One simple activity to set up is a toy wash sensory bin (example: cars or unicorns). Grab a few toy cars, a brush, and some soapy water. I always use baby shampoo to be safe in case he puts the soap in his eyes.

Baby bath soap creates more bubbles. Add a lot of water to the bin as little learners will love to hide the toys and their own hands under the water.

Water Transfer

A Crafty LIVing on Instagram: “"SQUEEEEEZE!" dinner prep + busy toddler!


Simple & inexpensive water transfer Toddler activity!

Susie Allison | Busy Toddler

Using two bins, add water in one bin and a set of sponges. Show your one year old how to transfer water from one bin to the next squeezing the sponges.

Pool Noodle Boats

Have Fun With These 35 Cool Pool Noodle Crafts

The Spruce Crafts

DIY Pool Noodle Boats- Super fun water activity for the kiddos this summer. Inexpensive and super easy to make. Find all items at the Dollar Store.

You can get a pool noodle at the dollar store and cut it in pieces; then, the possibilities are endless with these foams. You can make pool noddle boats, and use them with a net to fish them out, stack them, take them to the beach or even add them to a water table.

Painting With Ice

Painting with ice is one of my all-time favorite activities. On a hot summer day, they will lick the popsicle, get hydrated, and have fun! I like to use popsicle molds because it creates an easy handle. Another way to do the ice paintbrushes is with a regular ice cube tray and wood popsicle sticks. To make the ice paintbrushes add some food coloring to an ice tray and fill with water. Freeze for 24 hours. Unmold and provide some craft paper or white sheet and pain as the ice melts away.

Paint With Water

35+ Brilliant sensory bins for Babies -
Kid Activities with Alexa

Kid Activities with Alexa

5 Quick and Easy Play Activities for babies at home - Kid Activities with Alexa

There are different options for doing this activity. Inside, you can grab construction paper, a paintbrush, and a cup of water. Dip the paintbrush in the water and paint away over the paper! Want to do this outside? Grab large paintbrushes and a bucket of water and paint the fence, the street, the sidewalk. You can even draw with chalk first and then erase it!

Water And Sand Sensory Table

How to Make a PVC Pipe Sand and Water Table - Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls

I saw this and I immediately told my husband I wanted him to build a water and sand table. We use an old bin and some leftover PVC pipes he had from an old project plus some funnels from the dollar store. Kids love to see water and sand move, provide strainers and funnels to encourage pouring and movement.

Frozen Nature Blocks

Nature Soup: A Mess Free Sensory Bin for Toddlers and Kids - Happily Ever Mom

Happily Ever Mom

Another great option when your little one still puts everything in his/her mouth is to create giant blocks of ice with things inside. You can add toys, flowers, pom-poms, basically anything you can fit into a container and add water. if you are going to use flowers, make the collecting of the flowers as part of the activity as we did for our Mother’s Day Craft, go on a nature walk and collect the flowers, freeze them, and then use warm water to melt the ice.

Sponge Balls

How to Make a Sponge Ball for Awesome Summer Water Games - Fun Loving Families

Fun Loving Families

How to Make a Sponge Ball for Awesome Summer Water Games - Fun Loving Families

My son can play in the water all day every day, and after a while, things can get repetitive. Cut sponges un stripes and tie them tight in the middle to create a sponge ball. These are fun to add to bath time or a fun ball pit activity this summer.

Rainbow Foam

1 year old summer activities

The rainbow foam was one of the first sensory activities that I did at home. I used a different recipe that asked for flour to make the foam thicker and extra fluffy, oh, and it asked to use dish soap. What I didn’t realize is that for a One Year Old, this was a BAD idea… He touched his face, he tried to wipe it, and foam was everywhere, his eye stung, and he was crying a lot. Learn from me, go simple, use baby soap instead. Just add some baby soap, food coloring, and water into the blender and create a fun foam tray. It is safe for the eyes, and it’s like a free fun bath! Don’t want to do it outside? Do it in the bathtub and then just rinse it away.

Ocean Sensory Bag

Sensory bags are another great way to share activities without having to worry about little ones putting the items in their mouth. Add water or hair gel inside a gallon sizes zip lock bag and a few ocean animals. Tape the bag to the floor so that they don’t try to eat the bag too!

Beach and Ocean Sensory Squish Bags - Fantastic Fun & Learning

Beach and Ocean Sensory Squish Bags - Fantastic Fun & Learning

Ocean Sensory Bottle

Sensory bottles are a lot of fun. For a mess-free activity, create an ocean themes sensory bottle by adding a shark made out of foam sheet into a VOSS bottle. Add glitter and a 1/4 cup of soap. Sensory bottle tutorial

Ocean Sensory Bottle 

Frozen ice:
Sensory Science

Why Ice Play is Good for Kids

There are many reasons why playing with ice is great. Playing with ice:

  • Stimulates the senses. Early learners can explore the different, changing textures of ice. You can check out my Exceptionally Sensory-Rich Ice Play ideas for ways to add more smells, tastes, and interesting visuals to ice play.

  • Develops fine motor skills. Young kids need to use their fingers and hands to scoop, pour, and manipulate the ice.

  • Improves cognitive skills. Toddlers and preschoolers learn about cause and effect while investigating ice. They learn about melting, sorting, problem-solving, temperatures, and so much more through ice play.

  • Boosts imaginative play. Ice cubes are engaging loose parts on their own. You can also create small world sensory bins or process art activities using ice cubes.

  • Develop language skills. Keep reading to get some ideas about what to talk about during ice play.

Things to Talk About While Playing with Ice

You can support language development while playing with ice. Here are a few ideas:

  • Introducing new vocabulary such as “frozen,” “freezing,” “icy,” “chilly,” and “frosty.”

  • Compare what your child observes to something familiar.

  • “See how that spoon is so cold it has water on it. That’s condensation like what’s on your drink cup.”

  • Narrate what you are doing or what your child is doing.

  • “I saw you scoop the ice with the spoon. I’m going to try picking it up with these tongs.”

  • Use open-ended questions.

Ice Play Open-Ended Questions

  1. What will happen if we add more ice cubes to the water?

  2. What shape is your ice cube?

  3. How does it feel to hold an ice cube?

  4. Why do you think the ice is melting?

  5. What do you think will happen if we put the water in the freezer?

  6. How can we get this ice to melt?

  7. What else do you need to play with?

  8. How could we do this differently?

Tips for Playing with Ice

  • Make sure your child is safe and supervised at all times.

  • Offer your child mittens or a bowl of warm water with a washcloth to help them keep their hands warm.

  • Keep trays of colorful ice cubes or frozen treasure cubes in the freezer to grab when you need a quick activity.

I hope this post inspires some incredible play and learning. Playing with ice is an excellent way to give kids fun and stimulating sensory experience. This type of play supports development in key learning areas like fine motor skills, cognitive skills, emergent science, and language development. Ice play activities are also a unique way to approach art and loose parts play.

The idea behind this invitation to play is to freeze interesting items inside blocks of ice for your children to release and explore. 

It’s such a simple set up and the variations are pretty much endless, limited only by your imagination and the size of your freezer!

 Materials needed

:: containers: ice cube trays, yoghurt pots, plastic bowls, balloons

:: water

:: food colouring (optional)

:: small items to freeze (see below)

Prepare your ice blocks

Prepare your ice blocks in advance, placing small items in the with the water so they freeze together.

In winter you can use nature to do the freeing, placing your water-filled containers outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.

In summer this ice excavation can keep kids cool on hot. sunny days.

You can theme your ice blocks if you like: around colours, dinosaurs, numbers, for example.

You can make blocks in a variety of sizes, from little ice cubes to a huge block full of items. 

What can you freeze?

Items to freeze inside your ice blocks can include:

:: plastic or wooden letters and numbers

:: dinosaurs

::  building bricks and mini figures

:: leaves

:: flowers

:: plastic animals

:: fresh herbs

:: beads

:: buttons

:: pompoms

:: sequins

:: beads

:: buttons 

:: pompoms

:: foam shapes

:: plastic or wooden bangles and jewelry

Ten ways to play!

You can add food colouring to your water.

You might make a rainbow of colour-themed blocks, with all red items in one block, orange in the next….

You can freeze a rainbow of items inside one big block and use it for colour sorting games.

You might make lavender ice blocks for relaxing water play.

You could use slices of citrus fruit for zingy ice blocks.

Make a princess set, colouring the water pink or purple and adding plastic jewelry and sequins.

Freeze the ice inside balloons to make balls of ice – or dinosaur eggs!

Use small blocks and ice cubes in your bath.

Use pipettes and squeezy bottle filled with hot water to help rescue the items inside the ice.

Provide items for chipping and hammering the ice: spades, spoons, scoops, hammer, mallet and safety goggles.

Try using salt to melt the ice and watch what happens.

Ice Activities:
The Best Playing with Ice Ideas

Playing with ice is a low-cost, sensory-rich, and open-ended learning activity. Plus, playing with ice is a wonderful way to support development in learning areas like fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and language development.

This blog post will share over 100 different ways to play with ice. I’m also sharing instructions for making different types of ice, ways to color dye ice cubes, and tips for making ice play safe.

Ice cube tray with colorful frozen flowers for playing with ice toddler activity.

3 Ways to Dye Ice Cubes

  • Add a few drops of liquid watercolor to the water before freezing

  • Add a few drops of food coloring to the water before freezing

  • Add a tablespoon or more of fruit juice to the water before freezing

For deeper colors, experiment with adding more coloring. Warning: deeper colors may mean stained hands.

How to Make Shaved Ice

With A Food Processor:

Process 2 cups of ice cubes in a food processor. Process until the ice cubes stop rattling, and you’re left with a snow consistency with few lumps. Add more

With A Blender: 

Use the “crush” setting on your blender to blend 2 cups of ice cubes for 1 minute.

Troubleshooting Consistency

After blending or processing, you may need to correct the consistency of your shaved ice. If shaved ice is too thin, add more ice. You may need to break the ice into smaller pieces before adding. If the shaved ice is too thick, add cold water.

How to Make an Ice Sheet

Many of these ice play activities require a sheet of ice to melt, paint on, or use as ice floats.

To make an ice sheet, freeze water on a shallow cookie sheet or in a metal pie pan.

Ice Play Activities

Dozens of Ice Cube Shape Ideas

Sometimes just a uniquely-shaped ice cube is enough to inspire play. You can use these mold and shape ideas on their own, or they can be used in any of the other ice play activities I share. I will note when I have an ice shape I suggest for an activity.

Colorful silicone baking bolds to use to make shaped ice cubes for ice play activities

Ice molds

Ice Globe

colorful filled water balloons that will freeze and make ice globes for playing with ice

Water Balloons to Freeze

  • Traditional ice cube tray

  • Water bottle ice cube trays

  • Pie pans

  • Muffin tins

  • Silicone cupcake liners

  • Popsicle molds

  • Cookie sheets

  • Ice globes

  • freeze filled water balloons overnight + cut off the balloon

flower shaped silicone cupcake liners to freeze flower shaped ice cubes for playing with ice

Plastic Party Favors

star shaped silicone ice cube molds to make shaped ice cubes for playing with ice

                         Silicone trays

under the sea and ocean themed ice cube molds to make shaped cubes for playing with ice
  • Silicone baking or gelatin molds:

  • hearts

  • flowers

  • numbers

  • alphabet letters

  • paw prints

  • stars

  • shells

  • gummy bears

  • bagel

  • bread loaf

  • dome + mini dome

  • dinosaurs

  • butterflies

  • jungle animals

TIP: Let molds thaw for a few minutes before releasing ice.

Melting Ice Activities

                        Colored Salt Tunnels

Ice Sheet Pan

  • Salt + ice sheet + measuring spoon

  • Color dyed salt + ice sheet + paintbrush

  • Warm water spray bottle + ice sheet or ice cubes

  • Warm paint water + ice sheet or ice cubes

  • Ice cubes + warm water pour station

  • Squeezing sponges + ice

  • Scrub brush in color dyed salt on an ice sheet

  • Salt water + ice sheet

  • Eye droppers to melt ice

  • Syringes to melt ice

  • Basters to melt ice

  • Marinade brush to melt ice

Exploring Hot + Cold

  • Bin of warm water + scoop + bowl of ice

  • Bin of ice cubes + scoops or eyedroppers + bowl of warm water

  • Investigating Temperature

  • 1 bin of ice cubes

  • 1 bowl of cold water

  • 1 bowl of room temperature water

  • 1 bowl of warm water

  • Scoop or tongs to drop ice in bowls

Freezing Temps Experiment

  • Set out empty ice cube tray

  • Choose 3 colors for dyeing ice cubes (I used red, orange, and blue)

  • Add cold water to 1/3 of the slots in an ice cube tray + dye it blue

  • Add warm water to 1/3 of the slots in an ice cube tray + dye it orange

  • Add hot water to 1/3 of the slots in an ice cube tray + dye it red

  • Set a time for 15-30 minute increments to check ice cubes

  • Have your child “test” ice cubes with a toothpick + investigate which freezes first

Hot + Cold Sensory Bottles

  • Make 2 sensory bottles with your child. One with warm water and one with ice and cold water.

  • Add coloring, glitter, ribbons, beads, and water beads in a hot + cold theme

Exceptionally Sensory-Rich Ice Cubes

ice cubes with green herbs for scented ice play activity

ice cubes with fresh frozen flowers for nature playing with ice activity

ice cubes with berries for colorful ice cubes for playing with ice

  • Herb ice cubes – rosemary, mint, basil, parsley, or other toddler-safe herbs + spices

  • Glitter ice cubes

  • Sequin ice cubes

  • Frozen lemonade or juice snack

  • Frozen flavored water – lime juice, lemon juice

  • Fizzy baking soda ice cubes + vinegar spray

  • Stir 2 tablespoons of baking soda into water before freezing in an ice cube tray

  • Mix 1 part white vinegar, 1 part water in a spray bottle

  • Put frozen baking soda cubes on the sidewalk or in a sensory bin

  • Spray with vinegar

  • Color dyed ice cube color mixing

  • Ice globes + ramps/slides

  • Frozen coffee (dilute with water before freezing)

  • Coffee ground ice cubes

  • Ombre ice cubes

  • Dye ice cubes in an ice cube tray, using decreasing amounts of color

ombre blue ice cubes to explore different colors while playing with ice. ice cubes are dark blue at the bottom and light blue and clear at the top.

ice cubes with frozen green plant for nature-based playing with ice activity

Ice + Process Art

Frozen Art for Kids

Beat the Heat with Ice Art

Beat the heat this summer with these 12 ways to paint with ICE!

Being right in the middle of summer we are all about ice and water play.  In addition to play, my boys still look for their daily art activity.  What is the best way to create art in summer? By focusing on ice art!  Here are our favorite frozen art activities for kids.

Frozen Art for Kids

Ice Art Sculptures

We love making ice art sculptures and shared a fun place to make them while containing all the mess.  Since then we have also made ice art on a much smaller scale.  For one of my weekly play dates I froze water in take and toss cups, so each child at the play date could make his own sculpture.  It was a huge hit with all of the children.  This is one frozen activity we never tire of.

Frozen Popsicle Chalk

This recipe for frozen sidewalk chalk paint from Reading Confetti is pure genius!  As soon as I saw her post I knew I needed to try it with my boys.  They love the frozen chalk painting, and so did I!  The best part was that I could pop the lid back on the unused chalk paint and put it back in the freezer for another day.

Multicolored Ice Paint

We love painting with ice!  In addition to painting we love ice paint for frozen sensory play.  It's a simple and exciting way to beat the heat through play.

Glowing Ice Painting

Isn't this frozen art gorgeous?  What an amazing way to spend a summer evening with your kids.  Housing a Forest has brilliant ideas for art with kids, and this glowing ice is no exception.

Painting with Ice Chalk and Oil

Combine frozen chalk paint with oil and watch the materials repel each other.  The results are absolutely breathtaking.

Combining ice chalk and oil - a simple and gorgeous art activity for kids

Painting on Ice

This art activity from Toddler Approved can be done again and again, all on the same block of ice!

Frozen Watercolor Art

These frozen cubes of liquid watercolor paint had me mesmerized as the colors mixed to create breathtaking art.  See the different colors we combined for glorious results.

Ice Play

Nurturestore added colored salt to ice to create beautiful sculptures.

Smoothie Paints

We had so much fun with these smoothie paints!  They were just the right amount of chilly on a hot summer day.

Frozen Scented Chalk

Add some yummy scents to frozen chalk for art and play with added sensory benefit like Fun at Home with Kids.

Frozen Scented Chalk from Fun at Home with Kids

Erupting Ice Chalk Paint Recipe

Change up the classic frozen chalk paint recipe and give it ingredients that pop and fizz, creating beautiful art outside.

How to make erupting ice chalk paint - summer recipe for play!

Painting with Water Balloons

Okay, so this art activity isn't actually frozen, but I couldn't help but include it.  Water balloons count, right?  My boys would be all over this idea for painting with water balloons from Meri Cherry.

Balloon Art - Great Painting Activity for Kids

12 ways to beat the heat this summer through ART - frozen art activities for kids

More frozen summer fun:

Frozen Water Beads ~ Ice Bowling ~ Rainbow Ice

Frozen Water Beads

Beat the heat while staying active with bowling balls made of ICE - so cool!

Rainbow ice sensory bin

Ways to Play with Ice and Water

100+ of the very best ways to beat the heat with ice and water - so many genius ideas for summer fun!

  • Painting with watercolor ice cubes

  • Drawing with melting ice cubes on construction paper

  • Drawing on sidewalks with melting chalk  ice

  • Frozen chalk paint

  • Mix 1 part water, 1 part cornstarch, drops of food dye, then freeze in cubes

  • OR 1 part water, 1 part cornstarch, shavings of sidewalk chalk, then freeze in cubes

  • Paint on ice cubes

  • Paint on ice sheet

  • Large ice ornament collages

  • Fill a doughnut or bagel pan with water.

  • Offer your kid twigs, flower petals, berries, or seeds to put into the water.

  • Freeze the water.

  • Release ornament from the pan and hang it outdoors on a branch.

  • Mini ice ornament collages

  • Fill a muffin tin with water.

  • Fill a doughnut or bagel pan with water.

  • Offer your child twigs, flower petals, berries, or seeds to put into the water.

  • Place a loop of ribbon or yarn with the ends in the water. This will be the “hook” for your ornament.

  • Freeze the water.

  • Release ornament from the pan and hang it outdoors on a branch.

  • Color dyed salt on an ice sheet

Color Dyed Salt Recipe

  1. Pour your desired amount of salt into ziplock bag

  2. Add drops of food coloring or liquid watercolor

  3. Squeeze the air out of bag then zip closed

  4. Knead the bag until all the color has been absorbed

bowls of colorful dyed salt to use in a playing with ice activity for toddlers

heart shaped ice cube for toddlers to play with during ice play activity

sidewalk chalk that can be used to make frozen chalk paint for a process art ice play activity

cup of paintbrushes to use to paint ice with salt water or with paint for a playing with ice art activity

a rainbow frozen flower collage for a toddler process art ice cube play activity

Ice + Imaginative Play

  • Ice cubes in water + arctic animal toys

  • Ice sheet floats + water + arctic animal toys

  • Shaved ice + construction vehicles

  • Ice cubes + gemstones + animal toys/action figures

  • Ice gummy bears from gelatin mold

  • Shaved ice + flower pots + fake flowers/leaves

  • Snow Cone Booth Pretend Play

  • Shaved ice

  • Liquid coloring (can go the edible route or not)

  • Small cups or bowls

  • Scoop

  • Apron + gloves

  • Shaved ice sculptures

  • Mold shaved ice with hands

  • Add pipe cleaners, toothpicks, twigs

Nature Play + Ice

These nature-based ice play activities are open-ended invitations for your child to explore the materials you set out. You can put these items in a sensory bin or on a tray. Making the activity visually appealing helps capture your toddler’s imagination.

  • Seashell-shaped ice cubes + real ice cubes

  • Freeze flowers/flower petals in ice cubes

  • Stones in ice globes

  • Frozen nature objects + magnifying glasses

  • Freeze sticks + twigs in ice cubes (freeze so they stick out)

  • Shaved ice and pebbles

  • Frozen sand ice cubes

  • Ice cubes + sand

  • Frozen mud cubes

  • Shaved ice + animal paw print ice cubes + toys with distinct paw prints

  • Flower ice cubes + real flowers + water

Frozen Sensory Bins

You can easily DIY a sensory bin using a large, shallow plastic storage container. You may need containers/bowls to place in or next to the sensory bin for some of these activities.

When setting up a sensory bin, you can make it visually appealing to capture your child’s curiosity. Include different colors of ice, shapes of ice, utensils, or icy items to make the sensory bin more engaging. If you don’t have time, I promise your kid will still be interested in exploring ice + water.

  • Ice cube scooping, no water

  • Ice cube scooping with water

  • Ice cubes + tongs

  • Ice cubes + strainers with water

  • Ice cubes + gemstones

  • Ice cubes + reusable ice cubes

  • Shaved ice scooping + strainers

  • Colored ice + shaving cream

  • Frozen water beads

  • Fit the Cubes

  • Offer bottles with different-sized openings

  • Offer different-sized ice cubes

  • Cubes + Tubes

  • Explore ice cubes + tubes (cardboard, plastic tubing, funnels)

  • Color dyed ice + eyedropper + vegetable oil

three small dinosaurs to freeze inside an ice cube for a toddler ice play activity

plastic measuring cups to use to scoop and pour ice and water while playing with ice

frozen fruit to use in an ice play sensory bin

metal and silicone tongs for toddlers to use to pick up cubes while playing with ice

pile of water beads that can be frozen for a playing with ice activity for toddlers

metal measuring spoons that can be used in a sensory bin or to scoop salt for a toddler ice play activity

plastic reusable ice cubes that toddlers can explore in an ice play activity

Add these items to an icy sensory bin or explore on their own.

  • Reusable ice cubes

  • Reusable ice tubes for water bottles

  • Frozen sponges

  • Frozen citrus wedges

  • Freeze small toys inside ice cubes

  • Freeze ribbons or yarn in ice sheets

  • Frozen water beads

  • Icy magnets + magnet wands

  • Freeze small magnet toys in ice cubes

  • Explore with magnet wand toys

  • Ice cube building blocks from square/cube ice molds

  • Freeze water in different-sized plastic lids


Loose Parts Material List

The ultimate guide to loose parts play for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.


Ice Play Perfectly Pairs With:

Amazing Bottle Science

Easy discovery bottles with a science theme! The possibilities are endless and I have so many here for you to try. Here’s a few simple ones to get you started. Hope you enjoy! Take one of our science experiments and give it a twist by making a discovery bottle out of it. It’s fun to explore the same simple science concepts in different ways to reinforce learning and keep it fun and playful. Science discovery bottles are all about learning and having fun together.

Fun and Easy Science

Discovery Bottles for Kids

Science discovery bottles for kids that explore the ocean, density, magnetism, tornados, bubbles, and more science ideas.


Scientific bottles or discovery bottles allow kids of multiple ages to enjoy exploring easy science concepts together! Plus plastic science bottles are great to leave out in a basket at a science center at home or school. Sit down on the floor with young kids and allow them to roll them gently around.

TIP: You can tape or glue caps if needed!

Yes, I have used glass jars and I made sure to supervise my son closely. Please use plastic if that is best for you! We have started using the VOSS plastic water bottles for our discovery bottles and really enjoy them!

ALSO CHECK OUT: 21 Sensory Bottles For Kids

Easy science discovery bottles for early childhood learning activities.


Check out the following science discovery bottles ideas below.  A few simple materials, a plastic or glass jar and you have your own learning in a bottle. Fun discovery bottles made from what you already have on hand!


Make an easy science discovery bottle with water, coloring and dish soap. Get shaking! Experiment with different soaps or ratio of water to soap for a more in depth science experiment!

science discovery bottles soap bubbles exploration


Make a simple classic sink and float scientific bottle with stuff around the house. Have your child think about and predict what will sink and what will float. Turn the bottle on it’s side for a change of view.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: What dissolves in water?

science discovery bottles sink or float making predictions


Check our  ocean in a bottle post for how to make this easy ocean waves discovery bottle!

Ocean Sensory Wave Bottle


1 tablespoon of water and two small sponges. Cover shake and watch the water disappear. Squeeze out the sponges and start over! Try different amounts of water and sponges for different results!

science discovery bottle water absorption magic


Read the full post for details on how to make this very cool tornado science discovery bottle

Tornado Bottle Weather Science Experiment For Kids


Simple fun with just a few ingredients. Find out how to make your own homemade lava lamp here.

Homemade lava lamp oil and water science experiment

Exploring Water:
Splash Time!

Water Science or Hydrology is the study of water and its interaction with solids, liquids,
gasses, and organisms in various Earth systems. 

Most babies love exploring water. So why not utilize this to support their love of nature? A shallow tray or bowl can be filled with water and objects, such as pebbles and shells, can be placed at the bottom for your baby to explore. You may want to place a few towels down or do this activity outside however, as we have quickly learnt that babies love to splash about in water and can rapidly soak an entire room!

Color Mixing Science & Nature STEAM Investigation Station

July 20, 2016

Keep your little kids cool this summer and explore color mixing with this fun Art Studio Preschool Monthly Theme Color Mixing Science & Nature STEAM Investigation Station. This awesome STEAM Station combines a creative sensory activity with a classic science experiment. You’re definitely going to want to check it out!

Today we did an awesome Art Studio Preschool Monthly Theme Color Mixing Science & Nature Investigation Station and the little guy and I are both lovin’ it.

collage of color mixing activities with text: Color Mixing STEAM for Little Kids

Not to mention we’re for sure looking forward to next month’s Science Lab! Can you take a guess what the little guy’s favorite subjects are?

preschooler dropping colored ice cubes into dish of water

If you guessed Art and Science, you’d be totally right!

Keep in mind that all preschoolers do things in their own time and on their own terms. What one is ready for, another might not be. Please use your best mama judgement when planning activities for your little kids.

Color Mixing Science & Nature STEAM Investigation Station

What you’ll need

Here’s how to do it

preschooler dropping colored ice cubes into clear dish filled with water

Set Up

  • A day before, freeze ice cubes mixed with food coloring or liquid watercolors (red, blue, and yellow).

  • Set out clear containers with water and encourage children to drop different colored ice cubes in the containers.

red and blue colored ice cubes in clear dish filled with water

Big Questions

  • How could you make colored water?

  • What happens when you put more same-colored ice cubes in a container?

  • How can you make purple? Green? Orange?

  • What happens if you drop all three colors in the water?

red and yellow colored ice cubes in clear dish filled with water

This was so much fun! Even I enjoyed this activity!

preschooler picking up yellow ice cube

I grabbed an ice cube tray last night, filled it with water, and then added food coloring. We of course let it freeze overnight.

tray containing several clear dishes filled with water each containing two colored ice cubes

The little guy started with three clear containers that each had a bit of water in them. I dumped the colored ice onto his workspace and started asking him the Big Questions.

closeup of tray containing several clear dishes filled with water each containing two colored ice cubes

How could you make colored water?

preschooler adding red ice cube to dish containing yellow ice cube to make orange colored water

According to the little guy, “We dropped colored ice cubes in water!” Easy enough, right?

dish of green water containing yellow and blue ice cubes

How can you make purple?

clear dish with purple water containing red and blue ice cubes

“Red and blue!”

dish containing orange water with red and yellow ice cubes

Yep! There’s no doubt there.

dish of green water containing yellow and blue ice cubes

Like I said, we both loved this particular activity and you’re definitely going to want to try it out with your little kids.

Sink and Float Water Play
with Natural Materials

Sink and Float Water Play with
Natural Materials

This activity combines a nature walk or scavenger hunt with water play. Gather some leaves, rocks, twigs or other natural materials with your toddler. It's a great play based math activity too.  

Allow your young adventurer time to examine objects in natural surroundings, and fill your pockets with interesting treasures!

Water play is easy to provide with just a small tub of water and items to add to the water. Place the natural materials you collected to one side of the tub. You can use any kind of container. 

Provide different textures, colors, and sizes in your supply of materials. Include leaves, flowers, twigs, stones, or other items you find in nature.

Place items one at a time in the water and observe whether each item sinks or floats.

Water play is a child-focused activity, which means it invites kids to participate with few instructions. But it’s helpful to engage with early learners as they interact with the materials to support opportunities for learning through play.

One important way to engage is with meaningful conversation: naming colors; counting items; drawing attention to specific details or events.  

What will happen if we put a twig or rock on the leaf?

How many twigs are floating in the water?

Your green leaf looks like a boat.

Along with sink and float there are lots of other ways to play in the water tub.

  1. Drop materials into the water from above the tub to see if they make a splash.

  2. Swirl the water with your hands to see which materials move around.

  3. Sort the materials according to which ones sink or float, as well as by size, from smallest to biggest.

Water play is a simple activity to provide for your toddler, but a valuable opportunity to support early literacy, fine motor skills, and math skills.

You can bring the fun indoors with a little preparation in the form of drop cloths and protective clothing.

Indoors or outdoors, water play is fun sensory play that will result in lots of giggles – and splashes! – for you and your toddler.

Water Play for Babies & Toddlers 

Exploring Absorption of liquids
and moving liquids

Watercolor Magic – Rice!

by Sally | Nov 24, 2010 

Watercolor Magic

Materials:  Rice, watercolor paper, watercolors.

Step One:  Lay a watercolor wash on the paper surface using any method.



Step Two: While the paint is still wet, drop rice on the paint and leave it there until dry.


Step Three:  Brush off the rice.

What absorbs water
and what doesn’t? 

The opportunity to move into this exploration of absorption of liquid spill will happen naturally with a baby. It seems like we are cleaning up spills all day. So just set it up a tray and push it aside, And wait
You can set up your science experiments as an activity focusing on exploration and discovery. Make sure to ask kids questions at each step, discuss what is happening and talk about the science behind it.

For example; explore what happens if you add the same amount of water to different materials. Or investigate how different fabrics of clothing absorb water.


I put out the following materials in no particular order for our water science experiment.  Free to substitute materials for whatever you have available.

  • sponge

  • styrofoam tray

  • napkin

  • wax paper

  • sock

  • zip lock bag

  • paper towel

  • sandwich wrap

  • Styrofoam

  • construction paper

  • aluminum foils

  • wash cloth

  • of course cotton balls or cotton pads!

I also set out a bowl of colored water (better to observe with colored water) and an eye dropper for precise experimentation. Very simple set up. Use what you have in your cupboards, closet and recycling bin!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: What Dissolves In Water

water absorption simple science set up table


STEP 1. First think about which materials might absorb the water and which might repel the water.  Make your predictions!

STEP 2. Carefully fill the eye dropper and then squeeze some water onto each material.

water absorption simple science observations

Materials That Absorb Water
or a Spill

Here is what we learned! As we tested each item with the water, I asked him what he thought.

Did it absorb water or paint?
Did it not absorb the water?

He definitely understood the difference, and we had fun checking out what each one did!  We can say that absorption is when something takes in another substance.

Materials that absorb water or dyes include;
Sponge, napkin, paper towel, face cloth, sock, paper, cotton balls, watercolor paper, coffee filters, woods, leaves, seashells.

Materials that don’t absorb water include; Styrofoam, zip lock bag, wax paper, aluminum foil, sandwich wrap.

What are the characteristics of materials that absorb water?

FYI: Materials that absorb water are described as porous. Porous simply means capable of absorbing liquids. Porous materials have pores or openings that allow air or water to pass through easily. Materials that repel water or don’t absorb water are called non-porous.

Sponges and cotton are examples of materials found at home that are very porous and absorb water very easily. So if you are cleaning up a spill grab a cotton rag instead of a polyester shirt.

Plastic cups, metal forks and spoons, ceramic plates are examples of materials found at home that do not absorb water. Which is what you want when you are drinking water or eating food!

water absorption what absorbs simple science

ALSO CHECK OUT: Water Experiments

To wrap up our water absorption experiment, he engaged in some free play. He experimented with different colors, adding more water to different materials, and using the sponge to pick up water!

water absorption simple science sponge experimenting

More Fun Water Experiments

There are so many fun ways to explore water science. Here are a few of our favorites…

Flower Canning-
STEAM Pretend Play


The end of summer, and it’s time for canning. Can little Hope stay away? Of course not! And while we’re still washing fruits and vegetables, he has already canned twenty jars! Hope enlisted Pops to help her. Mostly because, he put all their nature treasures in mason jars

Flower Petal Canning: Fun pretend play activity for kids to enjoy in the summer or fall!

A lot of the posts in my blog are ideas of what parents can do for kids. This one is not. From start to finish, this is little Hope’s idea of having fun.

She saw us making cherry jelly a few weeks ago. That time he just watched. But when we started preparing for preserving plums this weekend and all the sealers were out again, he decided to take matters into his own hands and fill them up. You could tell he was enjoying himself immensely, walking around with jars filled right up with plums, sticking them in boxes, and proudly announcing that they’re processed in a pressure canner… not ready yet… just a minute, and… done!

We’re probably not far off from the first frost here, so we’re trying to enjoy flowers while they last. In my and Hope’s world, it means using them for playing as much as possible. So in no time, the idea of canning flowers came up.

Flower Petal Canning: Depetalling in progress.

Hope took the task pretty seriously. She sat on the step and demolished flower after flower, sorting them into different bowls at the same time. Dahlias are a great source of petals, and so are poppies!

Flower Petal Canning: Collecting and sorting flowers into bowls.

Inside, I gave her a ladle, a canning funnel, and a pot full of water, while Pop’s gathered jars in three different sizes. The rest she initiated, blissfully ladling water into the jar, throwing petals in, adding more water, then more petals, and finally closing the jar. If there is water involved, Hope is always game. The funnel helped to keep the water from spilling too much, while he was learning to estimate how to not overfill the jars.

Flower Petal Canning: Fun pretend play activity for kids to enjoy in the summer or fall!

Being very light, petals seldom break the surface tension, but if you shake them up the petals float beautifully.

Flower Petal Canning for Kids: Wouldn't it make a fun sensory bottle?

Here is the whole batch of our “canned” flowers. They decorated our table for a few days before wilting away. It would be so great if we could really can all the summer scents and colors for the cold months! As it is, we’re canning beans, tomatoes, plums, and just finishing making a batch of ground cherry jam with a hint of lemon. Hope enjoyed this. She got to help my mom prepare the veggies from the garden and was so fascinated in watching every move my mom made. I wonder what she’ll want to can next.

Related Activity -Flower Potions

Ways to Play and Learn with Water Indoors

Water play has the power to keep kids entertained for long periods of time. It’s just good clean fun! Whether they are washing toys in the kitchen sink, splashing in the tub, or even learning about the properties of water with simple experiments, these water activities are sure to delight kids of all ages! 

10 Ways to Play and Learn with Water Indoors!

Ways to Play and Learn with Water Indoors:

1. Paint with Water

This is such a classic activity that keeps little ones happily entertained for long periods of time!

2. Water Beads and Glow Sticks

For older kids, combine water beads and glow sticks for some additional science activities. On a hot day, I like to store the water beads in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours ahead of time.

3. Craft up some Ice Boats.

This handy tutorial from Melissa & Doug shows how to make boats using ice, a toothpick, and a paper sail.

4. Make Your Own Water Xylophone.

Great for inspiring plenty of musical playtime fun and exploration!

5. Try one of these 5 Simple Experiments with Water.

Learn about properties of water with these easy hands-on experiments.

6. Play “Sink or Float” with various toys and household objects.

Gather up various toys and household objects, and a large bowl with water. Invite the kids to guess which objects will sink and which will float, then try it to see if they are right!

7. Here are 6 Simple Discovery Bottles to make.

These discovery bottles are fascinating for little ones to watch as objects move and float inside.

8. Try this Simple Science Ice Experiment!

Use the free printable to conduct a simple science experiment using ice.

9. Montessori-inspired Water Transfer Trays

Plenty of activities for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

10. Melting Ice Science Experiment with Salt and Liquid Watercolors

If you want to see what happens when art and science collide with awesomeness, try this colorful experiment! Have fun!!  

Backyard & Kitchen Science
Wonderful Water 

Cool Whip Painting

This is an activity I do all year round. My son is already two, and we still do it. Take Cool Whip and mix in a few drops of food coloring to create edible safe paint. It is easy to set up, it is easy to clean and they have a blast! For my version of this activity, I added a few cars to “paint with cars. I’ve done it in the bathtub so when the activity is over, I just flush it all down the drain, clean the cars, and left him playing in the water for a little bit.

Jell-O Pool

When you were little, did you ever dream of swimming in a pool of your favorite snack? Chocolate pudding? Pasta? Well, how about Jell-O? Jello is soft, is easy to make, and can be a lot of fun to explore using not just the hands but the feet too! So fill up that toddler summer pool with Jell-O and get stomping!

 Jell-O I Spy

Fun at Home with Kids

Gelatin Play

Hiding toys in a big tray of Jell-O is a super fun activity you probably did when they were babies. Now, instead of letting them take out whatever toy they want, how about you play ISpy! Ask them to find the object, and then they can dig it out. Provide spoons, tongs, and other sensory tools to work on fine motor skills.

 Edible Water Beads

One Year Old Summer Activities

One Year Old Summer Activities using pearl couscous

Water beads are so much fun, but they can be super dangerous if ingested. Some moms use tapioca pearls to make edible, safe water beads but they could be hard to find. Make edible water beads with pearl couscous, they are fun and absorb color beautifully for an edible-safe activity! Edible water beads Recipe

Our Float Or Sink Simple Science Project


  • Natural materials

  • 2 bowls for sorting/categorizing

  • 1 large transparent container for testing/observing 

  • Paper and pens

  • Water

natural materials

Simple Science Project Steps

Here are the steps that we followed to experiment with natural materials and the concepts of float or sink:

1. Gather natural materials

This is one of my favorite pre-project activities! Go on a nature walk and collect some materials, be sure to collect a bunch of different things and explore as a family. 

2. Create a sorting station

Lay out your natural materials, take out the 2 bowls of sorting and label them. I used 2 different bowls and different colored paper for the label to make it easier to sort and categorize. Prepare a testing container full of water and let your kids go ahead and test the materials and then put them in the right category. Observe and talk about what is happening. Use scientific vocabulary.

3. A bit of testing on their own

Let our kids explore a bit by themselves. Sit back and just enjoy watching your kid play a bit, say positive comments, take pictures or encourage them.

4. Involve the senses

Add different materials into the testing container and have your kid find different objects while they keep their eyes closed. See if your kid can find something that floats/sinks and use this time to ask some questions:

  • Where can you find different materials if they float or sink? 

  • Top or bottom of the container? 

5. Finish off by testing in a different way

Ask your kids to sort the objects again without testing them first. They should try to remember what floats and what sinks. Once the natural materials are sorted into both bowls ask them what they think will happen with the materials that sink/float? Then fill the bowls with water and find out if they got them right! 

simple science project

As I said before, feel free to do this float or sink experiment following these steps or create your own project using this information as inspiration. It is so simple and yet so entertaining for young kids and toddlers that I’m sure that once you discover it you will be doing it more than once!  

Summary of STEM Concepts and Skills for the Float or Sink Simple Science Project:

  • Sorting and categorizing 

  • Making hypotheses 

  • Testing

  • Observation 

  • Math/counting 

  • Developing scientific vocabulary 

  • Float/sink

  • Weight: Heavy/light

  • Size: Big/medium/small

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I know that was a long post for such a simple science project. But that is the beauty of this project, it has so much STEM learning potential! Hope to have inspired some float or sink moments at home with your kids. 

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration to explore with your kids and create your own simple science project for testing whether things float or sink. If you still want some more guidance and want to know how we did it, keep reading. My kid and I were entertained for over an hour! Feel free to do it like we did or find new ways that better adapt to you and your family.

DIY Crafts: Sponge Balls

The summer is almost over and you are probably getting the “I’m bored” from your kids. If you are, you are going to enjoy the next few weeks of Wednesday posts. Each week I am going to be sharing a kids craft project that can help to keep your kids busy and not bored. Best of all these craft projects use items you probably already have on hand. So let’s get started with the first one, Sponge Balls.

Sponge Ball Craft for Kids

We made these sponge balls for just two bucks. Not bad, huh? I picked up everything we needed at the dollar store. Be sure to plan a trip to the dollar store with the kids (if you don’t have the items on hand at home). Not only is it air-conditioned but you can wander around for a while with the kids and not spend too much either.

We picked up a package of sponges and a package of zip ties. Just a dollar each.

Supplies for Sponge Balls

Cutting the Sponges, (adult help needed)

Once home we set out to make our sponge balls. I found that the sponges were a little thick so we cut them in width-wise and then cut them into strips.

Sponges cut widthwise


Sponges cut into strips


Alternating Colors to make a nice pattern

Since we were using a few different colors of sponges, the kid arranged them into a nice pattern. Once the kids got their pattern the way they liked them we used the zip tie to hold it all together.

Sponges in zip tie

I clipped the zip tie end off as close as I could to the end so we wouldn’t have a stray sharp piece sticking out.

Cutting close to the lock end of zip tie.

And that’s it. The kids enjoy them the most when we take them outside. I fill a bucket with water and then they can dunk the balls in the water and throw them at each other. It’s kinda like water balloons but without all the balloon pieces mess at the end.

So if your kids are complaining they are bored, take a trip to the dollar store and grab what you need to make this craft that will turn into hours of outside water play.

Moving Water Sensory Activity

November 18, 2018

If you’re looking for a water sensory activity for preschoolers, then look no further. Here’s one that uses everyday objects to introduce the concept of moving water in a fun, easy to understand way. 

moving water sensory activity with text: Moving Water Preschool Science STEAM Station

Can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving already? This year is literally flying by. And to think, it won’t be long and I’ll probably be saying the exact same thing about Christmas. Lol…

preschooler stirring moving water sensory bin

This week, we had lots of fun exploring transportation by air and water and one of our favorite activities was this cool Moving Water Sensory Activity. It was one of the five STEAM Station ideas for the week. And as always, the little guy had a blast with it.


preschooler stirring water with metal whisk

preschooler using metal spoon to stir water in sensory bin

Moving Water Sensory Activity 

Set Up

  • Set out a tub of water.

  • Put a variety of plastic lids, leaves, and other objects in the water and investigate how they move.

  • Set out spoons and whisks to use in the water.

Big Questions

  • How can you make water move?

  • What does it look like?

  • How can you create big ripples in the water?

  • How can you make small ripples?

  • What happens to the objects in the water when it’s moving?

This activity was great for learning about cause and effect. One of the things that I asked the little guy when we were finished was how do you make the objects move slowly? And of course how do you make them move quickly?

preschooler stirring water for moving water sensory bin

By the time we wrapped things up, he more or less had it all figured it out. I’m not surprised, though. Mother Goose Time makes it easy to teach difficult topics to little kids.

The activities that are included each month are quick to set up and flexible enough to work with what we’re already doing. It’s definitely less of a curriculum and more of lifestyle.

preschooler picking up object from moving water sensory bin

We usually leave our STEAM Stations out for at least a few days. Sometimes, all week. These Investigation Stations have a lot to do with why he loves science. Each week, we’re doing hands-on, sensory activities and exploring important science topics in totally new ways.

preschooler scooping objects from moving water sensory bin

More Water Play Ideas

Keep it simple with some pouring and scooping with our water play for toddlers idea.

Exercise your fine motor skills with this fun Pom Pom Squeeze Water Play idea from Fantastic Fun and Learning.

Add some ice to water for this fun scooping and transferring activity from Busy Toddler.

Try some simple science when you see what will sink and what will float with this fun idea from Rainy Day Mum.

Practice pouring with this fun Pouring Station idea from Busy Toddler.

Go Fishing for Numbers in the water table with this idea from Buggy and Buddy.

This toy washing station from Busy Toddler is always a popular and fun idea!

Experiment with a simple Water Wall with this fun idea from There’s Just One Mommy.

Scoop and pour these fun edible water beads from The Art Kit.

Save your bottle caps for this fun Bottle Cap Soup idea from School Time Snippets.

Float some Sponge Sailboats in water with this fun idea from Easy Peasy and Fun.

Grab some squirt bottle so you can Squirt the Numbers with this fun idea from Days with Grey.

Which of these water play ideas for toddlers do you want to try with your kids?

Our Float Or Sink Simple Science Project


  • Natural materials

  • 2 bowls for sorting/categorizing

  • 1 large transparent container for testing/observing 

  • Paper and pens

  • Water

natural materials

Simple Science Project Steps

Here are the steps that we followed to experiment with natural materials and the concepts of float or sink:

1. Gather natural materials

This is one of my favorite pre-project activities! Go on a nature walk and collect some materials, be sure to collect a bunch of different things and explore as a family. 

2. Create a sorting station

Lay out your natural materials, take out the 2 bowls of sorting and label them. I used 2 different bowls and different colored paper for the label to make it easier to sort and categorize. Prepare a testing container full of water and let your kids go ahead and test the materials and then put them in the right category. Observe and talk about what is happening. Use scientific vocabulary.

3. A bit of testing on their own

Let our kids explore a bit by themselves. Sit back and just enjoy watching your kid play a bit, say positive comments, take pictures or encourage them.

  4. Involve the senses

Add different materials into the testing container and have your kid find different objects while they keep their eyes closed. See if your kid can find something that floats/sinks and use this time to ask some questions:

  • Where can you find different materials if they float or sink? 

  • Top or bottom of the container? 

5. Finish off by testing in a different way

Ask your kids to sort the objects again without testing them first. They should try to remember what floats and what sinks. Once the natural materials are sorted into both bowls ask them what they think will happen with the materials that sink/float? Then fill the bowls with water and find out if they got them right! 

simple science project

As I said before, feel free to do this float or sink experiment following these steps or create your own project using this information as inspiration. It is so simple and yet so entertaining for young kids and toddlers that I’m sure that once you discover it you will be doing it more than once!  

Summary of STEM Concepts and Skills for the Float or Sink Simple Science Project:

  • Sorting and categorizing 

  • Making hypotheses 

  • Testing

  • Observation 

  • Math/counting 

  • Developing scientific vocabulary 

  • Float/sink

  • Weight: Heavy/light

  • Size: Big/medium/small

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I know that was a long post for such a simple science project. But that is the beauty of this project, it has so much STEM learning potential! Hope to have inspired some float or sink moments at home with your kids. 

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration to explore with your kids and create your own simple science project for testing whether things float or sink. If you still want some more guidance and want to know how we did it, keep reading. My kid and I were entertained for over an hour! Feel free to do it like we did or find new ways that better adapt to you and your family.

Kiddie Pool Activities For Babies

15 Kiddie Pool Sensory Activities for
Infants, Toddlers & Preschoolers

From water games to sensory activities, there are so many ways to extend the fun of the kiddie pool! This blog post will share 15 different kiddie pool activities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

The kiddie pool is a summertime staple. The perfect hot day activity to stay cool. If you’ve ever wondered, “how can I make my kiddie pool more fun?” then this one is for you

Top Reasons To Use A Kiddie Pool

  • They’re affordable and can cost as little as $12.

  • You have a range of options.
    Inflatable kiddie pools come in a wide variety of sizes and multiple shapes.Hard plastic pools come in different sizes and can even include built-in slides.

  • Inflatable pools do not take up much storage space.

  • They are versatile for indoor and outdoor use.

Indoor Activities

  • Sensory Mat

    Create a full-body sensory play activity for your baby by turning a kiddie pool into a sensory mat. Tape down contact paper, bubble wrap, felt, drawer liners, or paper for your baby to roll, sit, or crawl on. Layer different fabrics and pillows for your baby to explore.

  • Gross Motor Ball Pit

  • Using plastic balls, you can turn a kiddie pool into a tiny ball pit. Support your baby’s gross motor skills by stacking pillows up and over the sides of the kiddie pool. Then your baby can crawl in and out of the pool. You can also add a bucket in the ball pit for filling and dumping.

Outdoor Activities

  • Splash + PourTurn a kiddie pool into an immersive pouring station that your baby can sit inside.Add a couple of drops of food dye or liquid watercolor to add an extra sensory element.Find more sensory play activities for babies here.

  • Pool in the RainIf you’re already going to get wet, why not explore and enjoy a rain shower.Start with an empty kiddie pool and let your baby experience how the water level slowly increases.Start with a kiddie pool with an inch or less of water so your baby can watch the raindrops hit the water.

Bonus Activities

  • Exploring Wet TexturesBabies can explore the different sensations of varying levels of wet and dry.Start in a dry kiddie pool with dry sponges, washcloths, and loofahs.Slowly add a little bit of water, so your baby can use the sponges to wipe and soak up the water.Once the sponges are soaked, your baby can explore squeezing the wet sponges and feeling the water steam out.

Kiddie Pool Activities For Toddlers

Indoor Activities

  • Ball PitInstead of plastic balls, use cut-up pool noodles or stuffed animals.Add blankets and pillows to make a softer landing.Add a step stool for climbing and jumping.Add pails, shovels, or ladles for scooping and pouring.

  • Full-Body ArtCover the bottom of the empty pool with a sheet or large pieces of paper.Set out markers, crayons, or paints.Invite your toddler to create art in new ways using their entire body, their feet, or lying down.

Outdoor Activities

  • Suds + BubblesTurn a kiddie pool into a bubble bath.Use only a couple of inches of water and add bubble bath.Add whisks, sponges, and loofahs to help create the suds.

  • Life-size Sensory TableOption 1: Use an empty kiddie pool as a large sensory table, one big enough to climb inside.Find sensory play ideas here and loose parts ideas here.Option 2: Set a hard plastic pool on crates to make it child-height. Children can stand around the edges of the pool to explore.

Bonus Activities

  • Paint PrintsCreate art in a dry pool. Put paints into squirt bottles or squeeze bottles.Or offer flyswatters or plungers and paint on trays.Let your toddler paint the bottom of the dry pool.Before the paint dries, place sheets of paper on the art. Then gently peel them up, creating paint prints.

Kiddie Pool Activities For Preschoolers

Indoor Activities

  • Build a FortOption 1: Use a dry kiddie pool as the room of a fort, propped up on crates or chairs.
    Option 2: Create a blanket fort overtop the kiddie pool. Set a chair in the center of the pool or drape blankets across the sides of the pool.

  • Cozy Reading NookYou can turn the fort into a reading nook.Or add cushions, blankets, and a basket of favorite stories inside the kiddie pool for a cozy reading space.

Outdoor Activities

  • Obstacle Course

    Use a kiddie pool as part of a water-themed obstacle course. Children can slide into or crawl through it. Other ideas for the obstacle course could be sprinklers and slip + slides.

  • Immersive Stargazing

    Float in the pool at night and look at the stars.Make it an immersive experience by adding glow sticks in the water.

Bonus Activity

  • Plastic Egg Scavenger HuntHide prizes treasures inside plastic eggs (they float!), and kids can scoop out eggs with nets to find the treasure.

Inflatable Kiddie Pool Vs. Hard Plastic Kiddie Pool

Inflatable (Or Foldable)


  • Can fold up and store in a closet or small space

  • Easier to travel with

  • Soft sides provide a softer landing


  • Often more expensive than hard plastic pools

  • Blowing up and disassembling take more time

  • Can get punctured or rip

Hard Plastic


  • Durable and can last multiple summers with proper care and storage

  • Easier to clean when used as a sensory bin


  • If not properly stored, can crack

  • Hard sides and bottom could be a painful landing

Girl in a swimsuit stepping out of a kiddie pool after doing a kiddie pool activity.

Safety + Care For Kiddie Pools

No matter which type of kiddie pool you choose, always be sure to follow these safety and care tips:

  • Never leave children unsupervised near standing water, even if it is just a few inches deep.

  • If reasonable, pour water out of kiddie pools after use. If not, cover for extra security.

  • Inflatable kiddie pools need to be completely dry before deflating and storing away.

  • Hard plastic kiddie pools should be stored in a shed or garage to prevent cracking during the winter months.

  • Check out Nicole’s pool & beach hacks on Organized Chaos Blog.


Hydrology and Painting

How we are going to move our liquids isn’t necessarily thought of as we stare at our painting supplies for an idea. But that is essentially what we are doing when we paint. When you break it down scientifically, it blows you away that there is some science involved in artistic adventures.

But for me, it had everything to do with Hope wanting to make everything pretty and there wasn’t always paint or brushes close by. Sooooo…we made it an experiment as to what is available that is liquid and what will move that liquid. The conversation always started with...

What if we tried...?

Babies and toddlers are so much fun because of their innate curiosity to explore things with all of their senses. Art allows their curiosity to be expressed as creativity and we encourage them at that age. Hope made her own charts on her wall... what she could use paint on, what she could use mod-podge on and what didnt stick to contact paper so she could make her own decisions quickly for the project of the day.

So please allow them time to explore all the goodies on their own. Grab your camera, because one day it will be hilarious to watch. One day we used the berries nearby to color watery mud from a puddle. It was fabulously fun to apply it to a piece of wood cut for making blocks.

Whether you have a kiddo who is a budding Picaso or just want to keep a busy baby for the afternoon, homemade paint is super easy to make yourself. Better yet it is baby safe and non toxic for kids of all ages! Little ones will love the texture of homemade paints, and these paint recipes make for a fantastic and sensory-rich painting experience. 

Exploring how to move or spread liquidsTummy Time Painting | Mama Papa Bubba

This little bub.  Gosh, he melts my heart.  At 8 months old {and 5 months corrected} now, we’re working hard on building his strength and motor skills and he’s already come so far!  According to his physiotherapist, the number one thing we can do at this point to help his development is tummy time.  I’m absolutely not a professional, but according to her, it’s sort of ‘the gateway’ to many of the other skills he’ll be working on mastering in the upcoming months.   

Now while there are many people, proponents of RIE {a parenting philosophy that I quite adore} included, who advocate for babies moving and developing naturally without being placed into positions they can’t get out of on their own, I do think it’s a different situation in the case of our little Sam.  While he’s doing amazingly well for being born at 27 weeks gestation, it’s likely that he wouldn’t be nearly as far along as he is without some of the early intervention he’s had so far.  And so, tummy time it is.  The key for us is making sure that the time he spends on his tummy is happy and positive, despite the ultimate goal of slowly expanding the amount of time he’s able to spend in the position.  When he’s tired or frustrated, we’re done.  Simple as that.

The good news is that since figuring out rolling a while back, this guy is constantly on his tummy.  We make sure to get down on our tummies and chat and play with him on the floor, but today, with Big Sister at bike camp and Papa out for the afternoon, I decided we’d try something new – a little tummy time painting. 

While it’s not at all a new idea {Allison from No Time for Flashcards shared herno mess color mixerspost back in 2008 and MaryAnne of Mama Smiles shared her no mess finger paint post in 2010}, mess-free painting was something Miss G and I did as a table top activity when she was wee, so it was fun to try a new version this time around.

IMG 8484

First up, what we used…  Some watercolor paper,some paint {while not affordable on Amazon, these shimmer shine paints from Kid Made Modern are oh so pretty!}, a large zip-close bag, and some tape.  {I personally would have used a thick painter’s tape had I had it, but clear sticky tape worked just fine too.}

IMG 8485

IMG 8487

After cutting a piece of watercolor paper to fit inside our zip-close bag, I squirted some paint directly onto the page.

Then I carefully slipped it inside the bag, trying not to smudge the paint along the way {not that it would have been a big deal if I did}.

IMG 8488

IMG 8490

Then I zipped the bag shut and taped it directly to our wood floor.

With our mess-free painting bag ready, I brought Sam over and placed him on his back right below the bag, knowing that he’d automatically flip over and have a fun surprise waiting for him.

IMG 8495

IMG 8503

IMG 8504

I wasn’t sure what he’d think, but he was actually quite interested in it and began smushing and slapping his little hands over it right away.

IMG 8500

IMG 8507

The smearing didn’t happen nearly as quickly as it does when doing this activity with a toddler, so we took a little break part way through and did some foot painting too.   While not planned, this part of the activity was actually perfect for our Sam.  After spending the first 69 days of his life in the NICU and having constant blood draws from his little heels, he’s not crazy about having pressure on the bottoms of his feet {unless it’s in the form of kisses!}, so it’s something we’ve been easing him into.

When he was no longer into it, that was it.

IMG 8509

IMG 8510

I carefully cut open the sides of the bag so as not to muck up his creation, and lifted it out so it could dry.

And while the purpose of our tummy time painting was learning the process itself, the end result is the baby's very first painting!  {Which is most certainly being framed and hung on his nursery wall.

Hydrology in the high chair

Spreading & moving liquids

A while back I collected some great ideas to keep your little ones entertained while in the high chair and it received so much positive feedback that I’ve decided to expand the list with 50 more high chair activities!

In an ideal world you want your baby or toddler to be able to move around freely. The reality of everyday life is that sometimes you need to contain them for those moments when you need both hands!

My babies were always next to me in their high chairs when I was cooking. The result is I now have two kids who love to spend time with me in the kitchen when I cook – that used to be our “talking time” … and still is!

Often I get asked what is the best high chair? In my opinion, I am 400% convinced that the correct answer is: THE ONE THAT IS EASIEST TO CLEAN.

Great painting idea with an edible, taste safe, easy to make paint recipe for babies!

If you don’t have a high chair with a big-lipped tray table you could always put a shallow tray on a table in front of the chair!

This is not only a fantastic idea that will entertain while you start dinner but together you can make a special masterpiece!

High Chair Activities: A few tips:

  • You want to set up activities that are not going to end up on the floor in seconds! Things get thrown and pushed off the high chair table – and often THAT becomes the game – not ideal while you are trying to get something done! So stick things down, clip things on…

  • A high chair tray table works great, but a kitchen counter/dining table works even better. If the counter and the high chair work at the same height the space on the counter/table is bigger.

  • ALWAYS keep your baby/toddler strapped in. They learn to stand up in the high chair overnight!!

  • Some of the activities suggested include things that may be a choking hazard. You need to plan according to your child and their age

Fun ways to move liquids in the high chair

They might like to try using some chunky blocks which are easy for them to hold or trying someWiffle ball art. You could set up some paper plate art, with a selection or colors to choose from or explore with paint and a spiky ball.

Mess-free art is really
popular for babies

For mess-free options, try this clever plastic bag art idea or go forpainting in a can

Baby Painting is Lots of Fun 

Let’s get into the many ways you can go about a simple and easy artwork for babies: 

  • Messy Painting – one of our favorites! Messy painting can be so much fun. You’ll just need a large sheet and taste safe paint for an epic painting. 

  • Mess Free Painting – I’ll be sharing below an awesome way in which you can go about making art for babies in a fun and mess free way. Lots of benefits are involved too.

  • Sensory Painting – This set of art for babies includes the stimulation of the senses! Think sensory bags, sensory bottles… 

There are so many more fun ideas that can go along with easy painting ideas for kids but in this page we will cover the main three up top. 

In regards to the types of paint that can be used and that are safe, I strongly 100% suggest taste safe paints!

Related: Here are 3 easy DIY baby painting ideas we used to make edible baby paint using yogurt! 

Art for Babies 

 There are many benefits that are involved, such as: 

  • The stimulation of the senses (see, hear, smell, touch, feel) such as colors, textures, sounds.. 

  • Cognitive development – hand eye coordination

  • Fine motor skills – using the muscles of the hands 

  • Soothing and calming

  • Sensory Benefits and Experience 

 Without further ado, let’s get into this massive list of paintings with babies! 

Melissa & Doug Spill-Proof Paint Cups - 4…

Painting with Babies Ideas: 

Mess Free Ziplock Painting – Arty Crafty Kids

Heart Mess Free Painting – Active Littles

Pumpkin Mess Free Painting– Active Littles

Squishy Textured Paint Sensory Bag– Active Littles

painting with baby

Splat Painting – Arty Crafty Kids 

Baby Mess Free Bubble Wrap Painting – Hello Wonderful 

Cling Film Art– Messy Little Monster

Mess Free Painting– Messy Little Monster

painting with babies

Bubble Wrap Painting – Sunny Day at Home

Neon Taste Safe Finger Paint – I Heart Arts n Crafts

Rice Paint – Adore Cherish Love

Sponge Painting – Kids Craft Room

painting with babies activities

Marshmallow Paint – Smart School House

Mess Free Finger Painting – Eat Teach Laugh Craft

Painting in a Jar– Sunny Day Family 

Table Top Painting– Hippie House Wife

easy art for babies

Paint in a Bag – Life Over C’s

Bottle Painting – Toddler Approved

Mess Free Canva Painting – Adore Cherish Love

Taste Safe Ice Painting – Messy Little Monster

easy art for baby

Paper Plate Art – Learn With Play at Home

Clingfilm Art – Made for Mums

Mess Free Art – Laughing Kids Learn

Marble Painting– Happy Whimsical Hearts

baby art

Fly Swatter Painting– No Time for Flashcards 

Babys 1st Finger Painting – No Time for Flashcards 

Making Art – Artful Parent

Window Art– Baby Play Hacks

art for babies

No Mess Painting– Raising Faye

Body Painting– Choice Parenting

Glass Sponge Painting – No Time for Flashcards

Taste Safe Baby Painting– Active Littles

painting with babies ideas

Some of our favorite tried and true Themed Art for Babies: 

Valentines Mess Free Painting 

Color Mixing Mess Free Painting 

Fall Tree Mess Free Painting

Halloween Mess Free Painting

How to make Edible Paint 3 Ways

Toddler STEAM Experiences
Art experiences with toddlers are basically science experiments in mixing different supplies, tools and surfaces in new combinations. There are so many ways to learn to make paint or dough unique in every project. We can use their likes and dislikes to modify the set up on their trays so they enjoy the experience more. We can work on mastering certain techniques as their paintings become documentation of their skills on that day.

As they mature they will be learning different ways of moving liquids in different ways, they will begin to become artists. They can learn to embellish their paintings and make it their own. Their eye hand coordination and motor skills are more refined. Plus if you sort their supplies, they can start to select their own materials for trial and error projects.


Open-Ended Ideas with Cotton Balls

Cotton balls are typically a bathroom staple, but did you know that you can use them for art too? These are a favorite art tool because we always have them at our house! Check out these creative toddler art activities to try with cotton balls. You can also use pom poms for these art ideas too if you prefer those over cotton balls!

Here are some easy art projects using cotton balls:

Cotton Ball Splat Painting by Toddler Approved

Painting with Water and Cotton Balls by Happy Toddler Playtime

Painting with Pom Poms by Toddler Approved

Cotton Ball Throw Painting by The Chaos and the Clutter

Cotton Ball Flower Painting by Happy Toddler Playtime

Rainbow Art with Cotton Balls by Simple Fun for Kids

Salad Spinner Ideas

Do you have a salad spinner? Ours has never actually been used with salad, but we do love to do art activities with our salad spinner! If you haven't tried it yet, DO IT! It's always a fan favorite with my infants (and big kids!).

Here are some easy art projects using a salad spinner:

Rainbow Spin Art Painting by Toddler Approved

Spin Art Buffet Bar by Meri Cherry

Spin Art Butterflies by Toddler Approved

Spin Art Rocksby Meri Cherry

Spin Art Pinecones by Naturally Curious Children

Spin Art Heart Suncatcher by Toddler Approved

Cools Ways to Paint

There are so many cool ways to paint! You can pretty much paint with any material... even your body! Here are a few of our favorite ways to paint. I'll bet you can think of a dozen more. Make sure to tell us about your favorite way to paint in the comments.

Here are some easy art activities using paint of all kinds:

Painting on ice by Toddler Approved

Sponge Painting by Days with Grey

Painting with Trucks by Toddler Approved

Finger Paint Color Mixing by Friends Art Lab

Painting with Bubble Wrap by The Artful Parent

Splatter Painting by Toddler Approved

Splat Painting by Toddler Approved

Painting with Dinosaurs by Toddler Approved

Painting with Cookie Cutters by No Time for Flashcards

Paint with sticksby Toddler Approved

Paint with waterby Toddler Approved

Paint with water balloonsby Toddler Approved

Paper Plate Smush Paintingby Toddler Approved

Sensory Science in the high chair 

All the paint recipes above totally count for sensory play!! Additionally, if you are prepared to clean up a little mess after, here are a few more wonderful sensory inspired suggestions:

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