I’m always on the lookout for safe sensory play for toddlers. The ice cubes in this sensory play activity is perfect for some summertime fun when the sun is blazing down and your little ones are begging to cool off with water play.
Easy Sensory Table Idea for Toddlers Using Googly Eyes
Read about all the ways I used this ice sensory bin in my thematic preschool lesson plans. You can add it to a 5 senses preschool theme, Halloween theme, or water theme during the summer.
This sensory bin actually has two parts:
- Child-led learning using the sense of touch.
- Extending the activity by sorting the googly eyes into groups of small and large.
You’ll find your toddler working hard on those fine motor skills while handling and playing with the ice. And I can assure you that even my older kids loved this icy sensory bin.
FAQ About Water and Ice Play
Water tables are inherently fun and are one of the best open-ended toys for toddlers and preschoolers.
You can make them more fun by adding interesting sensory materials along with a variety of toys such as cars, animals, cups, and scoops. Basically…anything that won’t be ruined by the water can be added to a water sensory bin!
Be creative in you water table play ideas!
One of the best things about water tables is their versatility. You can have fun with so many different materials in a water table, including water beads, ice cubes, soap foam, shaving cream, beans, rice, floral pebbles, sand, dirt…the possibilities are endless! You can also add common toys like a marble run, plastic animal figurines, or thematic math counters.
Water tables are a wonderful addition to your indoor play area, too, and you can even create winter water tables indoors.
They can be filled with dry materials and used just like a sensory bin! For easy clean up and to protect the floors, place a large bedsheet, tarp, or tablecloth underneath. You can even turn a bath tub into a water bin! Just make sure what you add isn’t so small that it could go down the drain.
Icy Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers
This sensory play idea will have your toddlers and preschoolers exploring the sense of touch, along with adding an important early learning math skill with sorting.
- Googly Eyes – 2 sizes
- Ice Trays
- 41 quart under the bed storage bin
- Plastic shower liner for underneath the activity (optional)
- An assortment of kitchen tools that you no longer use
The Set Up
The night before, add some googly eyes to your ice trays. There is no specific rhyme or rhythm. Just simply drop a couple into each tray. I just try to make sure they are facing upward in the tray.
If you wanted to get technical, you could freeze the water with googly eyes halfway. Once they are frozen, add the rest of the water and refreeze. This will keep the googly eyes in the middle of the ice.
Again, these are preschoolers and toddlers. You can freeze either and they will still think this is a SUPER COOL activity.
This silly googly eye activity is not limited to summertime because of the ice. You cane make orange and purple colored ice for Halloween, or make rainbow ice and use rainbow googly eyes for a sense of touch activity.
How to Use This Sensory Bin
When you are ready, simply dump the ice into your storage container. Add random kitchen utensils, or allow your preschoolers to come up with the next move. Keep in mind, preschoolers play really well on their own terms.
You’ll find your toddlers and preschoolers will naturally chatter about what they see and feel in the sensory bin. Sensory activities are a fantastic way for young children to develop oral language skills.
Add a few small bins for the children to add ice. In the photo below, you can see the children collecting the googly eyed ice cubes to add to a pitcher of warm water.
How to Use This for a Math Activity for Toddlers
Once the sensory exploration had come to a stopping point (on my preschooler’s terms), we began to look at what was alike and different.
“Do these googly eyes all look the same? Let’s think about one thing that is the same, and one thing that is different.”
“You’re right! All of the googly eyes have this black center, yet they are different because they are not the same size.”
You can create this sorting chart in less than 3 minutes! I didn’t actually time it, but I am certain anyone can whip this up in no time.
Begin by taking a large piece of white paper and adding two circles Label them small and large. Allow your preschoolers to extend this googly eye sensory play by now placing the eyes in the correct category.
Or course you can save the googly eyes for soem other crafts for kids, or you can add them to a sensory bottle for another sensory experience for your toddlers.
Your toddlers and preschoolers will love this googly eye sensory experience. Not only is the surprise of finding googly eyes hidden in ice the “greatest thing ever”, but it will also help reinforce classification and sorting.
More Sensory Activities for Preschoolers
The fun doesn’t stop here. Check out our favorite sensory play ideas for preschoolers in the posts below.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.