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$4 Fine Motor Activity for Toddlers

I frequent the local Dollar Tree looking for items that I can use to create activities for X. I have pretty great luck, honestly. In fact there have been many times where I find items that I purchased somewhere else for much more then a dollar. I go in with an open mind and maybe a few items I’m particularly looking for. It takes me a while. It’s a weekend activity for when my husband is home with X and I have an hour to wonder around and try create activities with what they currently have available. I really enjoy it. It allows me to use my creativity and imagination and I always go home with at least a few activities for X.

This is one of X’s all time favorite fine motor activities.

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All you need is:

  • Sugar shaker (mine is glass with a metal top, pretty nice for the dollar store! But plastic would work just fine),
  • Small food pics (here is where you can be creative. Matchsticks with the end cut off, q-tips, straws… anything that will fit through the holes of the shaker)
  • A small container to put the pics in
  • Plastic tray

That’s it. I found all of these items at Dollar Tree. In fact the container for the pics was a 2 pack and the other now holds his crayons.

X carries the tray from the shelf to the table. Removes all the items from the tray. Opens the container filled with pics and proceeds to place each pic through the holes of the sugar shaker. For now I open the shaker and take the pics out so he can start again, but eventually that will be an added challenge to the activity. when he’s done he puts everything back on the tray and places it back on the shelf. He goes to this multiple times a day. It really is one of his favorites.

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Sensory Play: Edible Slime

We love some good and messy sensory play around here! But unfortunately we live in an apartment where all of the rooms (except for the very small kitchen and bathrooms) have carpet. Also we live in the South, and it’s summer… So we can’t take our messy play outside most days (our beloved water table has been very lonely this last month!). Most of the time I suck it up for the sake (and love!) of learning- we messy play anyways (well proven by the dried playdough in my carpet and various beans or rice that escaped my clean-up attempts)!
I was excited by the Meta-mucil based slime I saw floating around Pinterest. But alas, my first attempts at slime were too messy, even for me. It stuck (and left a film) on everything! Not only was X covered, but so was I AND my husband, as well as X’s chair seat and all surrounding carpet. It was in my hair… my husband was still finding little blobs on his person hours later. Not a great intro for my husband, who happened to be home. He generally misses out on the sensory play around here and I think now he’s thankful of that!
There had to be a better way! I had to be able to accomplish the cool, squishy goo, WITHOUT the stick. Also, X still occasionally taste tests our play, so the borax or starch filled recipes (though seemingly super awesome!) wouldn’t work for us. All of the Meta-mucil based recipes I found were vague and used the microwave. We don’t use a microwave around here.
So I experimented! And I succeeded!

Here is my final recipe:
3 Tbsps Generic Fiber Supplement
2 cups Water
-Stir to combine.
-Heat on high, stirring constantly, until boiling
-Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly
-Let cool completely
-Play!

A few notes:
*I used the Target brand generic Meta-mucil. I think any will work as long as the primary ingredient is Psyllium Husks.
*I used an old non-stick pot. I’m trying to transition out the non-stick cookware in our house, as budget will allow, but I save them for making playdough or slime! It didn’t have any negative effect on the pot though and it’s edible, so you don’t necessarily need an old one.
*The only fiber supplement I could find with psyllium husks as the main ingredient was orange flavored. It made the slime orange and it smelled nice. If you want to color your slime, take the time to find the clear, unflavored kind. I wasn’t willing to visit another store just so I could make it green instead of orange. I rather like orange, honestly!
*Cook it longer then seems necessary. I really think this is what reduced the stickiness.

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We used our dough toys to play with the slime. I also took the precaution of setting it up on an old cookie sheet. This helped link it in with our Montessori trays and also kept it somewhat contained.
If you try this or any of my recipes, I’d love to hear your results!