Sensory or Calm Down Bottles

Sensory bottles are clear, plastic bottles that let young children safely explore and observe many different types of small items or liquids.  They will use multiple sensory during this exploration – visual, auditory.  In childcare I have observed the children using the bottles in different ways.  They have used them in the kitchen while “preparing” food, they have stacked them like blocks.  The boys love carting them around in the backs of large vehicles.  We eye-spy looking for different items – letters, numbers, etc.   Lastly, they will take them to a quiet spot and just lay on the floor tipping them, watching them move.

My favorite bottles to use are Voss water bottles.  I buy them at Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada.  I find the labels peel off usually pretty cleanly with no sticky residue left,  if a little is left I use Goo Gone to remove.

I have tried 3 different liquids to use to suspend items.  Water is very thin and things move fast when tipped back and forth.  The next was baby oil a bit thicker and gives a nice slower movement.  Last I tried was corn syrup, thick and slow.

Secure the tops with duct tape and there will no problems with them leaking.  We have been using most of these pictured for a couple years and haven’t had any break, even getting stacked and them falling regularly.

If you are looking for more ideas, they are really unlimited.  Check out a simple Pinterest search here.  Sensory Bottles on Pinterest


Important Gross Motor Play

Gross motor abilities have a huge affect on a child’s everyday activities.  If a child has weaknesses he can have trouble with simple self-help skills like standing on one leg to put your pants on.  If their core is weak they will have trouble with sitting activities like writing, cutting and drawing.

It is very important to allow plenty of time in the day for them to experience things that will help them develop in their large muscle movement as well as their eye-hand coordination.  Outside is of course my top choice for doing gross motor play.  Here is a list of ideas of activities to do.

  • climbing uneven terrain like small hills
  • rolling down a hill
  • walking on a balance beam
  • climbing a dome climber or other playground equipment
  • coloring with sidewalk chalk
  • exploring in the forest- climbing over and under trees
  • riding bikes/scooters
  • water play- throwing sponges or balloons
  • raking
  • shoveling sand
  • pushing large toy vehicles
  • picking up and moving large rocks around the yard
  • carrying tree chunks
  • pulling toboggans and wagons
  • parachute play

In the winter it is harder to be outside as much with our cold, snowy Canadian winters.  Here is a list of indoor activities to supplement some of the shorter outdoor time.

  • balance beam
  • indoor mini trampoline
  • gonge riverstones
  • bean bag toss
  • hopscotch
  • ring toss
  • yoga
  • throwing balls in to a basket or box
  • hanging swing seat
  • walking a line
  • pushing other children in laundry basket
  • obstacle course
  • scooter boards
  • dancing
  • small slide
  • weighted exercise balls

I have a small room in my daycare that gives a bit of space to really burn off some extra energy.  Here are some different things I have in there.

Sound Boxes

Montessori Sound Boxes are one of many activities that involve helping refine the senses.  Children will match 2 boxes listening for the same sound.   I have recently been working this tray with my children.  I am finding the 4 yr old is very good at it, but the younger child almost age 3 yr need more work with listening and hearing the sounds.  Part of the problem is likely because of the other noises in the room it is making it difficult to differentiate the sounds.

I purchased these boxes at Lee Valley .   I left this image larger so you can see the items I put inside.  I tried to find things that made sounds that were not too similar.  There was also another set made of course to figure out what matches.fb_img_1441771870217

I then used a hot glue gun to glue the lids on.  I painted one side of each set blue and then one set red with crafter’s acrylic paint, with a clear top coat to finish it off.  I found in my stash of trays I pick up at thrift stores this Melissa and Doug Alphabet set tray that fits it all perfectly.  I had to cover all the alphabet images on the sides with sign vinyl (Free from my dayhome parent).

Dressing Frames

The children I care for are all almost 3 yr up to 4 yr, at the perfect ages to need to practice self dressing skills.  I was thinking of just getting different pieces of real clothing from the thrift store and letting them work on skills that way, but of course that is just way to easy lol.  Also still costs money even though used prices.  After randomly finding this Ikea weaving loom frame at Value Village I decided another DIY project was going to be completed.  It didn’t come with all the extra pieces.


My Gran and my Mom passed on their sewing skills down the line to me.  Though I have to admit I have limited patience and tend to rush things so don’t do as perfect of a job as they do.  On a positive note their sewing rooms are much better stocked then mine after a lifetime of collecting.  So I called up my mom and told her what I was looking for and asked her to go through her hoard and bring me a bunch of stuff to make these dressing frames.  There is one frame and the fabric is attached with velcro so I can rotate them out on the shelves.

Wall Map Art

After recently starting my new Montessori journey I came across this blog post with a cool map mural.  I don’t really have much cluttering up my childcare walls so I decided that a Montessori version of this would be suitable.  This is the idea I started from.

I didn’t really care for the split up pieces.  I did start out trying to use her free files for my silhouette cameo, but ending up purchasing a ready made file from the Silhouette store for only about $1.  14672632_10154757976873714_1603802657_o-png

I filled in the current colors so that I would cut the right colored vinyl.  I am very lucky to have one of my dayhome parents that works for a sign company and gives me scraps for free.  This is the start of the cut outs.


I painted a board product called Hardboard that I had cut 2 ft by 3 ft. Then added the vinyl, after heating it up some with my blow dryer it was all set.  14677915_10154762644548714_1659234115_o.jpg

I ended up needing to change out Australia as it was old vinyl from Michaels and not adhering.  Added the continent vinyl labels.  Finally got it on the wall using the command strips velcro pieces.

our world.jpg

My Journey

Very first ever blog post… Feels like it should be something profoundly awesome. But instead I think I will talk a little about my almost 17 year journey in childcare. When my son was 1.5 yr I decided to start caring for other children so I could stay home and earn some money. Of course I loved children or that wouldn’t have been an option for me.  I  provided the typical toys, plastic, noisy, toys that really didn’t need much imagination to play with. As the years have gone by I have realized and learnt that there is alot more to childcare than that type of environment.  Moving out all the plastic toys and bringing in broader play experiences using loose parts and a Montessori learning environment is currently what my goal is.  I am still on a journey of learning by taking a montessori certificate course.  I intend to use that philosophy loosely combined with a play-based environment.  The plan with this blog is to show ideas of different things we use for learning. I hope to show ideas of things I diy, which I do to A) save money and B) just a hobby to be creative.