Here are some sensory ideas you can try with your 12-18 month old:
One of our favorite things to do in the last few weeks have been mess-free painting activities.
I like to use two layers of resealable bags, which I recommend if you are going to attempt this project. Our kid is a tinkerer who likes to scratch at the bag and the tape, and there ends up being an inevitable pinhole or two in the outer layer by the time we are through!
Add store bought tempera paints or make your own.
Squeeze as much air as possible from the bags before sealing.
Use painters tape to adhere bags to a window or the floor.
Show your child how applying pressure to the bags mixes the colors around – then let them slap, swirl, or stomp their way to a mess-free masterpiece!
You can use smaller amounts of paint and add a sheet of paper if you’d like to keep the art when finished. We usually keep the same bag of paint for a few days worth of play before tossing it into the trash bin.
When you are ready to branch out into more messy endeavors but are concerned with the amount of paint that may be taste-tested, you can make your own paints using flour, salt, distilled water, vegetable oil, and colored drink powder or food dye.
Watch video (closed captioning now available):
Bubble Foam is one of our favorite outdoor activities, with minimal cleanup (you might even end up with toys and children cleaner than they were before) and minimal setup. The foam actually held up for at least half an hour of play, and if my child had wanted to play longer, we could have kept going!
I have seen different food coloring added to this DIY bubble foam recipe, but we haven’t gotten there yet. I plan on incorporating ocean-themed toys and blue bubble foam for our “transportation” preschool unit next spring!