Month 23: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 23 month old toddler

Month 23: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 23 month old toddler

Josh’s Story

Brrrrr….. This month I took on a mission to rescue some wild frozen animals. It was an adventure that required persistence, accuracy and determination. During my mission I was presented with my frozen animal friends [Exhibit A]

Ice story

To save the frozen animals I needed to thaw them with a limited set of tools at my disposal. Time was not on my side my friends. I started with pouring hot water to begin thawing thy animals. Few cracks of the ice and ice started melting. Moderate success. To speed things up I decided to try some baking powder… hmmm not much success. I went for the water again and this time “Ay Caramba!!”.. like a volcano bubbles everywhere. Not too long later it ceases. Minimal impact. There was one more tool in my toolbox.. SALT! I poured it all over the ice.. and.. and… YES! We had big progress!

One by one I was able to pull all my animals out of their frozen state. Hurray! Mission accomplished.

Until next adventure.

Lots of smiles, Josh

 

Sensory Play Activities

1. Puff paint

puff paint

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination Tactile and visual senses

How to Play

There are various ways you can create fun and colorful art with puff paint while developing many important skills.

The two strategies that I used include:

  1. Create with your hands

Simply let your toddler explore the paint with their hands. Then encourage them to move the paint from their hands onto the paper to create a colorful artwork. They can use their whole hands or individual fingers to paint with. The ability to separate individual fingers is an important skill that is used in most fine motor tasks such as writing, buttoning or picking up small snacks.

  1. Use an instrument to create art

Your child can create a masterpiece while using paintbrushes, sticks or Q tips. Simply dip the instrument into the paint and then let them create their masterpiece.

Once the artwork is done, put it into the microwave for around 20-30 seconds. The result will include a picture that is raised off the paper.

Puff Paint Recipe

Ingredients:

For each color of paint you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • A few drops of food coloring
  • Approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water

What to do:

  1. First combine all the dry ingredients
  2. Then add the food coloring
  3. Lastly, add the water to make a smooth paste
  4. COMPLETED WORK: Microwave for approximately 20-30 seconds until the puff paint is dry.

2. Race track adventure

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), balance, strengthening of the core muscles, hand eye coordination and bilateral skills Tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive and visual senses

How to play

You can create a variety of obstacles for the racetrack. The complexity will depend on what you have available around the house. The cars can also vary in sizes.

Here is an example of what we did:

  • Mark the road on the floor with some tape. This is a great visual cue for your toddler and it will also help keep their attention. You may want to include straight roads or a road that goes around, over or under obstacles.
  • Examples: Your road can go around witches hats, go under a table and over a cushion.
  • The car can also go through tunnels and bridges created from home made materials.
  • Our race track started inside the house and ended up outside as I wanted to add a messy component. We created a muddy road (shaving cream & sand) at the finish line. Once the track was completed each car had to go in for a car wash (container with water).

This is lots of fun and can be played over and over.

3. Wobble fun

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor control & strengthening, respiration and motor planning Vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile senses

How to play

This activity is all about you having fun with your toddler. You can play any game that you choose. You can play chase, wrestling, tickle monster etc.

The main objective is to do it on an unstable (but safe) surface. This can include a pile of pillows on the floor, a matters or a trampoline.

While playing on an unstable surface your toddler gets to work on their balance and motor control as they try to keep upright and not fall down.

4. Get back on the floor – Advanced crawling fun

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Strengthening of shoulders, arms, wrists and knees, motor planning Proprioceptive and tactile senses

How to play

Crawling games continue to be very beneficial. As your child is bigger and heavier they place more pressure onto their arms and legs when crawling. This means that it continues to build stronger muscles but also provides more input into their hands. The weight on the hands helps the small muscles to become stronger. And stronger hand muscles make doing fine motor activities easier.

Obstacle courses that include crawling can be lots of fun. A fun way to challenge your toddler can include crawling through a tunnel. However to make it exciting place the tunnel over a variety of pillows to make it uneven when going through.

You can also play chase while crawling on a variety of surfaces or crawl under tables. You can also build forts that your toddler can crawl into.

5. Stringing beads

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination (ability to use two hands as one hand stabilizes and the second hand manipulates), finger strength Visual and tactile senses

How to play

Stringing beads requires many skills. If your toddler is new to lacing you can start by using a pipe cleaner instead of a string to lace the beads on. Also ensure that the beads have larger holes.

Once this becomes easier and you notice that your toddler is able to easily manipulate all the materials you may try using a cord or a string.

To get some variety for your toddler you can also show them how to thread a variety of household materials. These can include cut up toilet rolls, rings or even cheerios. Basically anything that has a hole in it will do.

6. Messy drawing

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Pre-writing skills Tactile and visual senses

How to play

There are many ways to work on pre-writing skills. At this age you can practice with your toddler drawing vertical and horizontal lines and circles. A great strategy to reinforce these concepts is by using their pointer finger and drawing these lines in various tactile media. You can try sand, shaving cream, applesauce, paint, flour, rice or any other messy media.

Developmentally your toddler learns first to imitate a shape before they can copy. Imitation involves you drawing a particular line and your toddler drawing it immediately after you.

Teach your toddler by drawing vertical lines by starting from top to bottom and horizontal lines from left to right. This is mainly because most western countries letters are written in this direction. Try to also match it with the use of directional words. These include up, down, across and round and round. I also love to sing along with the use of the directional words to further reinforce this.

7. Painting with sponges

sponge paint

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and bilateral skills Visual and tactile senses

How to play

There are numerous ways to get your kids painting. This month we will use sponges.

There are two ways that you can create art with a sponge.

  1. A sponge attached to a peg: This can be great to start off with. It is also great for kids who are more sensitive to textures. Holding on to a dry peg while dipping the sponge into the paint is much more tolerable for those children.
  2. Plain sponge: If your child doesn’t mind getting messy simply let them grab a sponge and dip it into paint.

Then provide them with a canvas. It can be a plain paper or a specific cut out that may relate to their current interest. It can be a leaf, a fish, a dinosaur, a car or a birthday or a holiday card. Anything goes!

8. Messy play: Cloud dough

cloud dough

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and visual perception skills Tactile sense

This is such a fun activity. The cloud dough is very similar to the commercial moon sand. It feels silky and it is very moldable. The easy part is that it only includes two materials, baby oil and flour (see recipe below). Below is a general guideline from which you can work. I decided to add a little extra baby oil to make it even more moldable.

How to Play

Once you’ve made your dough, give your toddler some containers and spoons and let them explore. Cloud dough can provide lots of entertainment while expanding their tactile sense. When using it in therapy I always had to pack up a to go bag full of cloud dough due its popularity.

Cloud Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Baby Oil
  • 8 cups of flour

What to do:

  1. Simply mix the two ingredients together. THAT’S IT!
  2. Store it in a container with a lid

9. Ice rescue

ice rescue

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand skills, hand eye coordination Visual and tactile senses

How to play

Equipment needed: salt, baking powder, small toys that can be frozen, plastic container, water and a freezer.

To ensure that you have the toys spread out throughout the ice block I would recommend freezing them in layers. Put in a couple toys with a small amount of water. Place in freezer. Once frozen, repeat the process until all the toys are frozen and covered in water.

To get started on your rescue mission, take out the ice block. Then start experimenting by pouring different materials onto it and trying to melt it away so the toys have been broken free. You can try to use any materials that you like.

We used warm water, salt and baking powder. The warm water and the salt were great at melting the ice. The baking powder on the other hand didn’t do much to the ice but created some cool bubbles that were fun to observe.

10. Pom pom squeeze

pom pom squeeze

Skills developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills (manipulation & hand separation), hand eye coordination and bilateral skills Vision, tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to play

This activity involves grading up a game of pom poms. A few months back I wrote about playing with the use of tongs to transfer pom poms from one large container to the next.

This month I would encourage you to increase the challenge by getting your toddler to transfer pom poms with the use of tongs to containers with much smaller openings.

By using small openings they are working on increasing their accuracy while manipulating instruments and improving their fine motor skills. Once they get confident in using the pom poms then you can move them to transferring different objects or toys that will fit into the tongs.

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 23 month old toddler. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below.

Remember: Each toddler develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 22 month activities < 24 month activities ❯
Month 21: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 21 month old toddler

Month 21: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 21 month old toddler

Leo once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”. For the past few months I have been experimenting with different professions. Today I decided to be a painter, the Artissstttt type where I could express sophistication . You know, like Leo.. da Vinci.

I requested Mom to kickstart the whole process. We used my favorite fruit to make “paint”. Fruit paint. One small problem. The urge to satisfy my belly with that fruit was overwhelming, but I resisted.. for most part. By sheer coincidence, when mom wasn’t looking some of the raspberries and blackberries did a magic trick. Disappeared and reappeared inside my mouth. I’ve seen daddy pull this trick few times and get away with it 😉

Now the fruit paint was ready. I used my hands and a paintbrush to orchestra my masterpiece. In a rage of ecstasy I swiveled, I splashed, I smashed, I streaked and walla! It was done. Its true what Leo always said; Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.

Ok… enough of my rambling. Off to my next masterpiece.

Lots of smiles, Josh

 

Sensory Play Activities

Below I have included my top 10 sensory activities for your 21-month toddler. As always, these activities have been tried and tested. Enjoy!

1. Painting with fruits & spices

Painting with fruit

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and visual perception skills. Tactile & visual senses.

How to Play:

This activity is taking a twist on the typical painting activities. Instead of using paints we can use fruits and spices. The goal is to choose a variety of fruits and spices that will create different colored paints.

Some examples can include turmeric, paprika, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. And if you are outside you can even mix up some dirt with water for the brown color.

Once you choose your fruits & spices mix them up with water to get some color paints. With berries you will need to squish them up first. Don’t worry about tossing out the lumps, as it will give the painting some extra texture.

I would start to encourage the use of the paintbrush but if it gets too tricky they can always use their hands.

Have fun!

2. Nature color hunt

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Grasping, hand eye coordination and visual perception skills. Visual and tactile senses.

How to Play:

It doesn’t matter in what season you are playing outside, you can always find a variety of colors. White, green, red, purple, yellow, brown… Nature has it all. This is a great matching activity to teach your toddler about what things are similar and different.

Choose 2 or 3 nature objects of different colors. For example a green leaf, brown stick and a red flower. You can place them on a blanket or into individual containers. Walk around with your toddler to try and find those particular colors. It can include the same objects or different ones. Color is what we are interested in here. Teach them how to match those colors. Once they understand the rules you can ask them to find things of a particular color.

3. Play dough & nature

Play dough nature

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral integration. Tactile, proprioceptive and visual senses.

How to Play:

Any time I take out the play dough I let the child play around with it for a little while. While they are squeezing, pulling, pressing it they are strengthening their hands.

Then I introduce whatever I would like them to play with. During this activity I mix up the outdoors with the indoors. During one of your outdoor adventures take a note for your toddler to collect things from outdoors. It can include sticks, leaves, acorns, flowers, bark. Anything that isn’t too large.

Then let your toddler incorporate all those outdoor items with play dough.

They can:

  • Stick it into play dough and create an art work.
  • Make imprints.
  • Play hide and seek with the objects. This can be completed by first hiding some items in the play dough. Then finding those items as they continue to pull and poke around while practicing their fine motor skills.

 My favorite no–cook Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of boiling water
  • Food coloring

What to do

  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. In another bowl add water and mix it with food coloring
  3. Add both mixtures together
  4. Stir until combined (it still might be sticky)
  5. Allow it to rest
  6. Take it out of the bowl and knead it until the stickiness is gone
  7. If after a few minutes of kneading it’s still sticky then keep adding small amounts of flour. Keep adding until you have reached perfect play dough consistency.

4. Animal adventure

Jello & animals

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand eye coordination, bilateral skills and fine motor skills. Tactile and visual senses.

How to Play:

This activity involves experiencing yet another texture, Jell-O. The toy animals go on an adventure to explore unknown lands (Jell-O).

Simply place Jell-O down on a flat surface and let your toddler explore this texture with their hands and toys.

5. Animal obstacle course

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), body awareness, bilateral coordination, hand and shoulder strength, core strength, trunk control and visual skills. Proprioception, vestibular, tactile and visual senses.

How to Play:

Obstacle courses are fantastic for developing a wide range of skills that involve many senses.

This month’s adventure involves animals. Choose a range of animals that your toddler is familiar with. It can include zoo or farm animals. If you get very creative you can even print out pictures of those animals so you can refer to them during the obstacle course.

Now create an obstacle course from items in your house such as pillows, cushions, blankets, tables, chairs or boxes. The obstacle course should provide your toddler with an opportunity to climb over things, under things, maybe do some crawling or jumping. As they navigate through the obstacle course you can ask them to pretend they are a specific animal. (This might include them imitating you). For example: “Let’s pretend we are elephants and stomp our feet” or “Now we are a dog, so lets crawl quickly through the tunnel” or “Now we are a monkey and we are going to climb up high onto this couch”.

6. Playground exploration

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, motor planning skills, language skills and social skills. ALL senses.

How to Play:

Playgrounds provide endless opportunities for children of all ages to explore all their senses. In my 3 part Playground series I explain in detail all the developmental benefits.

As your toddler observes and explores the playground they not only have the opportunity to work on interacting all their senses but they also have a chance to interact with other children. Through play they have many opportunities to work on their social and language skills. They can start getting familiar with some of the non-verbal cues of other children. They can learn how to share, take turns and figure out that throwing sand at another child is not the nicest idea.

So take your toddler out and give them the opportunity to learn!

7. Bubble storm

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), balance and hand eye coordination. Vestibular, visual, proprioceptive and tactile senses

How to Play:

To create a bubble storm you will need to blow lots of bubbles in the air. As they are floating all around encourage your toddler to pop them.

Strategies for popping:

  • Pop with your fingers. This is great to encourage the separation of individual fingers, which are essential for many fine motor skills.
  • Pop them by either catching them in-between their hands or by smashing them onto the floor or wall.
  • Pop them with their feet. Great motivation to lift up those feet and work on those balance skills.

Once the storm settles you can also encourage them to blow some bubbles. Even if they can’t blow a bubble yet, any blowing activity is great for strengthening oral motor skills.

8. Wipeout

Wipeout

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task) and hand eye coordination.  Visual, proprioceptive and tactile senses.

How to Play:

This game can also be known as a non-traditional bowling activity. You set up your bowling pins and then knock them down. For bowling pins you can use store bought bowling pins or simply empty plastic bottles. Now… when knocking down the pins there are no specific rules of where to stand, what ball to use or how to hold and throw the ball. The main goal is to wipe as many pins as possible.

To start, your toddler can use larger balls and stand closer to the pins. As they get more confident and successful you can change to a smaller ball and slowly start moving them further away.

Occupational Therapy Tip:

Sometimes our little toddlers have a hard time of knowing where to stand. If you want them to be shooting the pins from a particular distance try to use a marker to stand on. The marker can be a hula-hoop, carpet square or just a sheet of construction paper.

9. Fun with Blocks

Building blocks

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral integration skills. Tactile and visual skills.

How to Play:

I love blocks as they build many great skills. As your toddler gets more confident they can start working on their creativity by exploring beyond a tall tower. However lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. First lets build their foundational skills. Depending how much experience your toddler has with blocks you can first demonstrate stacking blocks and knocking it down afterwards.

It’s easier to start with larger blocks. Then move to smaller ones. You can also provide some variety by interchanging between different blocks. These days there are plenty of options. Your toddler can play with wooden blocks, foam blocks, cardboard blocks, building bricks etc.

10. Stomp painting

Stomp painting

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task) and visual skills. Tactile, visual and proprioceptive senses.

How to Play:

This activity is lots of fun, but it can get a little messy. I would recommend doing it either outside or staying away from carpeted areas.

Simply place a long strip of paper on the floor (I used banner paper) with paint blobs on the corners. I avoided paper plates for paint placement as they can get stuck to the feet which makes the activity more messy and slippery. NOTE: Make sure your toddler doesn’t have too much paint on their feet to avoid slipping.

Then let your toddler stomp away creating a master piece.

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 21 month old toddler. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below.

Remember: Each toddler develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 20 month activities 22 month activities ❯