Another idea in the Hands on Play challenge was to introduce sensory bins. In case you have never heard of a sensory bin, it is basically a tub full of stuff (you may call it junk) for kids to play with. I have used sensory bins with Amelia before, and she will generally play with them for a long time. A year ago I made her a Halloween sensory bin with black beans, candy corn pumpkins, little plastic pumpkin pots and purple pompoms, and she would play with it for at least a half hour, which was a long time for a 2 year old.
This time I put together a gardening sensory bin with things I found around the house (clearly I have way too much crafty stuff around the house:
Both Amelia and Megan liked playing with this. Amelia filled the pots up with rocks and then planted flowers in them. Megan tried to line the bugs up on the side of the bin (which was great for practicing small motor skills!). I didn't get many pictures because I was busy playing with them, but you can see that they are playing together.
I also had a shape sensory bin, which was just a bin full of foam shapes and buckets from Target's dollar section. We made towers and knocked them over, and filled buckets up with different shapes, and tried patterning.
Megan's favorite part was sitting in the bin:
If you make a sensory bin, I recommend putting some kind of utensil in. My girls both love the utensils for scooping - I usually just get out kitchen spoons or scoops or tongs or something like that.