The idea of doing arts and crafts or baking with your toddler may seem pretty overwhelming.
For starters, things can get messy quickly.
And the younger your child is, the more hands-on you’ll need to be throughout the process.
Aside from creating new memories, interacting with different textures and colors is one way to improve your toddler's development. Depending on the activity, texture play calls for many objects that promote sensory learning as your child touches and combines everything together.
So what is texture play and why is it important?
It’s no secret that children learn through a variety of activities.
One of the best ways for language and motor development is to encourage sensory play by having them explore objects through touch. Sensory play is great for children ages 0-3 because their brains develop at a quicker rate during this time.
Through different texture-based activities, they’ll discover a variety of materials and become familiar with how something feels, whether it be sticky, fluffy, smooth, wet, or prickly.
Even if they can’t tell you exactly what they’re feeling, you’ll be able to see their eyes light up as they explore. If they don’t enjoy certain textures, this will be apparent too.
One way to make texture play easier is to sit your toddler in their highchair. This will keep them in one place as you guide them through the activity. Using a placement mat on their highchair tray can also help keep the materials in one place and off the floor.
If your child no longer uses a highchair, or just doesn't feel up to sitting in one, the placement mat can be used on a flat surface like a table or kitchen counter. The Busy Baby Toddler Mat comes in clutch to protect your surfaces and make clean up easier!
The raised edges around the border of the Toddler Mat are great to stop beads and other art supplies from rolling off the mat and onto the floor.
If you’re not sure which activity to try, here are a few easy ones that are great to do on our Busy Baby Mat.
1. Finger Painting with Food
is an easy way to introduce color and texture to your child’s playtime. Tiny cereals like Rice Krispies or Fruity Pebbles are perfect for little hands to maneuver through as they paint. Adding spices like cinnamon or oregano can also introduce them to gritty textures and create new smells for them to explore as well.
2. Baking Cookies
This shortbread cookie
recipe is so easy and only requires three ingredients! Butter, flour, and icing sugar are all you’ll need to create this delicious dessert. While mixing everything together, encourage texture play by letting your child mix ingredients and knead/lay the dough down to bake. You can also continue the texture play and explore shapes and designs by using cookie cutters and decorating the finished products with icing.
3. Textured Color Wheel
are typically used to introduce toddlers to primary colors. You can use food coloring to add a twist to this fun activity by letting them mix one color with one texture at a time to create a textured color wheel. Grab items around your house like flour, salt, shaving cream, or soap to keep it simple. Since this activity can get quite messy, we love creating each mixture on our Busy Baby Mat
and wiping it clean in between each color texture combo we make.
4. Rocky Road Cookie Cups
This yummy rocky road cookie cup recipe
uses four ingredients, with four very unique textures that all make for a great texture play session. Turn on the oven and get your baking pan ready, as you and your toddler mix chocolate chip cookie dough, semi-sweet chocolate chips, sliced almonds, and mini marshmallows together for a sweet treat.
5. Popcorn Kernel Art
Popcorn kernel art
is one great way to introduce crunchy and bumpy textures to your little one. You can also implement color play by dying the popcorn kernels a few different colors. Once your kernels are ready, glue them to a piece of paper and create a beautifully colored leaf mosaic. Having your child complete this activity on a placement mat in their highchair will help keep the popcorn kernels in one place until you’re ready to glue them together.
6. Cinnamon Apple Craft
Engage several of your child's senses at once with this cinnamon apple craft
. This activity will both encourage texture play and leave your home smelling amazing. Introduce the gritty texture of cinnamon to red finger paint, and enjoy the aromatic smell as the paint dries and the cinnamon scent intensifies.
7. Five Senses Texture Collage
Break out your Busy Baby Mat and let your child’s imagination soar with this easy arts & crafts activity
. Add several craft materials to the mat such as feathers, buttons, popcorn kernels, and marbles, and let them explore through play while shuffling the different pieces around. Once they’ve picked out a few of their favorite ones, glue them to a piece of paper to create a unique textured collage.
8. Texture Turtles
These texture turtles
will inspire your child’s creativity while engaging their senses all at once. Use construction paper and paper plates to create hand-crafted turtles. First, paint the plate green to form the turtle’s “shell”. Then add swatches of different fabrics like cotton, wool, or denim to add another layer of texture for your child to explore.
Whichever activity you try, keep it simple––especially for younger children who are just starting out.
We hope spending time doing these family-friendly crafts at home creates special moments for you and your family.
We’d love to see some of your finished creations while using our Busy Baby mat! Tag us @busybaymat to share your texture fun!