Tot School: Eye See You!

Actual Age: 17 months; Corrected Age: 15 months

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Theme: Sense of Sight

The past two weeks have been a bit out of the ordinary for Tot School.  For the first week, instead of having a typical session, we opted to go on a field trip guaranteed to delight our sense of sight…the Sea Life Aquarium in Grapevine, TX!

The babies had so much fun looking  at all the amazing creatures on display at the aquarium.  It was really exciting to watch them discover all of these animals for the first time.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we all still possessed that same sense of wonder that is so present in a young child’s eyes?

The aquarium had a lot of neat ways to view the sea life.

There were bubbles,



and even clear floors.

It was awesome!  Other ideas for a “sense of sight” field trip for little ones: an airport to watch planes, botanical gardens or nature park, zoo, construction area…anywhere you can introduce your child to new and interesting things to see.  Don’t forget to provide plenty of language stimulation on these outings! Even if your children aren’t talking yet, they are soaking up new vocabulary and concepts like little sponges.  If you can, take a small digital camera or even your cell phone and take plenty of pictures.  Not only are photos good for a scrapbook (or blog), but you can also use snapshots of your outing to make an experience book for your child about the trip.  All you need is a cheap mini-photo album and you are set!  This is a great way to practice new vocabulary and to start modeling narratives, or storytelling, which is important for language development.  I’ll talk more about narratives in a future post!

Last week was a short one due to the Memorial Dayholiday and we did not have a tot school play date with Tex and his mama. But we still managed to fit in some fun activities geared towards the sense of sight.  Here is some “educational decor” that I hung up one day during nap time…CD chains! I found a stack of unused CDs in my office, tied them together with some scrap yarn, and hung them from the chandelier.  They reflect the light beautifully and act like prisms in the playroom, and the babies love it when I make them spin.

Although mine were content with just watching the CDs spin around, older children might enjoy decorating the CDs with markers or stickers or even glueing shiny objects to them.  Threading the yarn through the holes would provide good fine motor practice, too.

And now, on to the activities!

Activity #1: Sensory/Discovery Bottles

Sensory bottles, sometimes known as “discovery bottles,”  are not a new phenomenon by any means.  Teachers and savvy mommies have been using these for years to occupy their little ones. They are cheap, easily made with household items, and variations are limited only by your imagination.  If you need inspiration for your own set, a simple Google or Pinterest search will yield tons of ideas.  I even used them for the twins’ Valentines this year!

Clockwise from top left: Pipe cleaner corkscrews, pom poms, water beads, glitter and seed beads, coins, assorted colorful beads, google eyes and curled ribbon, nuts/bolts/screws

Since this set was designed with the sense of sight in mind, I added water to the materials, but you certainly don’t have to. If you leave out the liquid, you can have a set that is perfect for some noisy fun, too!  If you do want to add liquid, some people add mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, etc. to slow down the materials for more visual interest.  But plain tap water works just fine for us (and is free, too!).  When we made our Valentine’s bottles, the babies were too young to really help. But now that a few months have passed, they were the perfect age to help me make a few of them one morning.

Multi-colored pipe cleaners that I had twirled around a pencil made fun little “springs” for the twins to put into the bottles.  Great fine motor practice!  Below, Sydney concentrates very hard on putting slippery water beads into another bottle.

The twins did a few more bottles with me, and then it was off to lunch and nap.  While they were sleeping, I finished up the bottles and put a few drops of Gorilla Glue in the lids before screwing them on. Tip: A little dab’ll do ya here.  I learned that the hard way last time I tried this. Gorilla Glue expands A LOT when it dries!

The babies love these sensory bottles. They have been surprisingly resilient, especially since Will is very into throwing right now.  As long as they don’t get stomped on, they seem to hold up pretty well.  Although they play with all of them, their favorites are the pipe cleaner corkscrews (above) and a bottle I filled with nuts, bolts, washers, and screws (machine screws, not wood screws…you don’t want pointy ones that might scratch or puncture the bottle) that I found in our garage.

Activity #2: Color Tubs This was one of the best activities we have done so far.  This is really more of a multi-sensory activity, but I put it in the “sight” category because of the emphasis on color.  It was pretty simple to set up- first, I rounded up three clear plastic containers from around the house.  I put those on our patio, added a squirt of bubble bath and a few fizzy color tablets to each tub, and filled them up with water from the hose.  Here’s what they looked like at this stage:

Cool, huh? Next time I’ll skip the bubbles…it was more fun after they all dissipated and the colors of the water were visible from above. Live and learn!

Next, I added balls from our ball pit that matched the color of the water in each tub.  And then the babies added themselves 😉

I really had no idea if they would actually get in the tubs or just play in them from the outside. I should have known they would dive right in!

They had a great time jumping in and out of the different colors, splashing, kicking, and tossing the balls around.

The blue tub was definitely the fan favorite.  Sydney sat in it and turned around, and around, and around…

At this age, I just let the babies loose to explore the water as they pleased.  A slightly older child might enjoy making a color-sorting game out of this…bring the balls out all mixed together in a container and have your child toss each ball into the matching tub of water.  Lots of room to expand on this idea!

Activity #3: Peek-a-boo Masks

This was another simple activity that I pulled out one afternoon when we happened to have family visiting.  The twins love to play peek-a-boo and think it is hilarious to put things over their faces, so I thought they might enjoy playing with paper plate masks.   I cut holes in a couple of plates and drew faces on them while the twins were napping.  Next time we do this I will let them decorate the masks, but this time I just wanted to see if they would get the concept.

Although they didn’t quite master getting the masks in the right places, they sure had fun trying!

They especially enjoyed it when the grownups wore the masks.

Where’s Granddad?

Seems like everybody got in on the fun!

Granny’s looking a little pale ;)

I hope you enjoyed our second installment in the “Five Senses” series.  If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to check out our “Sense of Sound” lesson here. Tomorrow we will be doing some great activities celebrating the sense of touch, which I look forward to sharing with you soon!


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  1. I love all the great ideas. Especially The tubs of water!! Thanks!

  2. The Color Tubs look so fun! I’ll be featuring it with the Kids Co-Op Friday. :)

  3. SO many GREAT ideas here!! WOW! My favorite were the color tubs =-) I am featuring you at TGIF this week –! Thanks for linking up and I look forward to seeing you again this week =-)

    • Awesome! Thank you so much for featuring us and hosting this great party. I’ve enjoyed following your blog and fb page. Have a great day!


  4. Oh My Gosh, can I come over and play! So many wonderful sensory ideas in one place! Love love love the aquarium- so much to look and see! Ours had a touch pool where kids can touch all kinds of exotic creatures even a few sharks! Thanks for sharing at tip toe thru tuesday! I am pinning this!


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