Tag Archives: sensory bins

Ridiculously Fun Colourful Bubble Foam

Colourful Bubble Foam | Mama Papa Bubba

Oh my word… I’m so glad we finally got around to trying this!  I pinned the idea over a year ago and I knew it was going to be fun, but I had no idea just how much Miss G would love it and how much play it would bring about (just wait until we get to those pictures!)  

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For our bubble foam, we used an eco-friendly dish soap (only because that’s what we use in our house – I’m sure the regularly variety would probably make even better, ‘stronger’ foam) and an assortment of gel and liquid food colouring (both worked well – we just used a little less of the gel because of its strength and a little more of the liquid).

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While Amanda of Dirt and Boogers put both her blender and food processor to use when making her foam, we got out our supplies, and decided to try using our Kitchen Aid mixer instead.  I wanted to make a lot of foam, and I figured its big bowl would allow us to do so in fewer batches, and I figured that it would be able to whip the foam just as well as, if not better, than a food processor or blender (I also think a hand blender would work well too!)

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To make our foam, Miss G added 2 tablespoons of dish washing liquid, 2/3 a cup of warm water, and 2 drops of gel food colouring (or 4 or 5 of liquid) to the machine’s bowl.  Then we fired up the mixer on its highest speed, and let it whip the mixture into foam for 2 solid minutes.  The result was this thick, luxurious foam that formed soft peaks when a spoon was lifted out of it.

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We continued the process with 4 other colours of Gracen’s choosing, working quickly so that the foam would maintain its thick texture.

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After completing all of the colours in about 10 minutes or so, you can see that the purple foam we made first was starting to ‘air up’, but Grae didn’t mind one bit.  She was just thrilled that it was time to dive in finally!

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While I did consider bringing some items to use while playing in the bin (I thought maybe cups to hold foamy drinks or cars to put through a foamy carwash), I ended up skipping that part and I’m glad I did.  Sometimes less is more, and in this case, the foam was plenty of fun on its own.  Gracen immediately started swirling the colours together which made me wonder if next time we should try just 3 colours – red, blue, and yellow – to see how well a little colour mixing experiment would turn out.  Either way, swirling the rainbow colours together was brilliant fun.

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With her hands and arms absolutely covered in foam, the clapping began…  And goodness gracious, did she ever find flying foam hilarious!

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Next up, this silly slippery hands position took form…

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And before long, a certain someone’s head was in the bin!

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She popped up with hair full of foam, and I knew exactly what was happening next.

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Please tell me I’m not the only one whose kid strips off their clothes and jumps into their sensory bins in order to get the full effect…

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And who am I to deny this sort of crazy, messy, foamy fun really?

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Fully covered in bubbles, Miss G told me that they felt ‘so soft and cozy on her bare skin’ and I don’t doubt it for a minute!  At this point I was sort of glad we’d used eco-friendly soap as her skin can sometimes be quite sensitive, which led me to wonder if the same sort of results could be reached with a baby shampoo, bath wash, or bubble bath instead?  Another experiment for another day, I guess. ☺  The good news is that this foam didn’t irritate her skin in the least, and they lasted for a ridiculously long time.

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One thing I hadn’t thought of when we put together this sensory activity was the possibility of bubbles… And boy, oh boy, were there ever bubbles!  Big, giant, huge ones that formed in the space between her two legs and between her arms and her body each time she’d stand up.  (It’s hard to see, but there’s a giant one coming from in between her shins in this photo.)

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Without a doubt, this has been one of our most fun and engaging sensory activities in a long time, and for a little bit of dish soap, some water, and some food colouring, I’d say that’s pretty amazing! 

Colourful Bubble Foam

  • 2 tablespoons of dish soap
  • 2/3 cup of warm water
  • 2 drops of gel food colouring (or 4 – 5 of liquid food colouring)

Place all ingredients in a bowl.  Using a kitchen mixer or a handheld mixer, mix the ingredients on the highest setting for 2 minutes (or until the foam forms stiff peaks).  Repeat with as many colours as desired.



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Fresh Mint Sensory Play

Fresh Mint Sensory Play | Mama Papa BubbaThe last few days have been hectic.  With only 5 days to pack up our entire house and prepare for our first of two upcoming moves, Brad and I have been working at full steam sorting through things, preparing boxes of items we’ll need for August, boxes that will go straight to Kuwait, and boxes that will go into storage until we return home to Canada in a few years.  Sort of sadly, that leaves our little lady to play independently almost all day long most days.  As a result, I’ve been pulling together all kinds of random, super simple activities with whichever everyday materials are nearby at the moment.  Luckily for me, this morning as I popped on the internet for a brief moment, there was a discussion on different ways to use fresh mint going on in one of the awesome blogger networks I belong to (if you’re not already one of the 68 000 people that follow our Pinterest board, you certainly should be!)  We have loads of mint growing in our backyard, so I took a bunch of the suggestions, mashed them together and created this fresh mint soup station for Miss G to explore.

IMG 0428To start out, I set out a big bunch of fresh mint, a pair of Gracen’s scissors, and few plastic bowls and spoons.  Grae began smelling and cutting and ripping the mint and the amazing scent of fresh mint filled our house.  She dished out bowls of ‘salad’ and delivered them to us as we worked.

IMG 0438Before long, I sensed that something would have to be added to the mix in order to keep Grae engaged in her play, so I grabbed a small container of green glitter and a jug filled with water and a couple drops of green food colouring and quietly added them to the bin.  (Slowly adding elements to sensory bins as play progresses is one of my favourite tips for keeping munchkins engaged in their play.)

IMG 0430In no time at all, bowls of sparkly green soup were rolling out of Gracen’s fresh mint kitchen.

IMG 0437Looks delicious, right?

IMG 0454This was such a simple set-up, but Grae enjoyed it so much that I just tidied it up to make it look inviting again, and I’m leaving it out overnight for Miss G to enjoy again tomorrow. We’ll see how the mint lasts!

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Duck Pond Sensory Bin

Duck Pond Sensory Bin | Mama Papa BubbaOn the way home with a photo shoot with Amy of The Connection We Share (photos to come soon!) today, Gracen asked if we could build a duck pond.  I’m not sure where how or why this request came about, but I was as game as she was.

IMG 7960It’s been a while since we’ve put together a new sensory bin and what I loved this time around was that instead of me putting something together for her to explore and investigate, we created this one together.  Very similar to a frog pond sensory bin we’ve played with before, this one included glass beads in blues and greens, rocks, driftwood, some flowered branches from the yard, and a couple of toy ducks we already had on hand.

IMG 7962In order to make it outdoor-friendly, the pond’s water was nice and warm.

IMG 7970So warm apparently that Miss G didn’t mind getting her entire body soaking wet.

IMG 7966Grae played for a little while before moving onto more exciting things with Grandma Charlotte, but I know she’ll get lots more play out of it once the excitement level gets back to normal around here.

You can see Gracen’s oceanicerainbow rice, beach, watergardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed bins by clicking on the links.


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Snow Dough {for 4}

I loved this simple variation on the usual cloud dough, and today I simplified it even further for some messy morning sensory play with the cousins.  To create some “snow dough” of our own, I simply made our usual cloud/moon dough and dumped in a couple of small bottles of silvery light blue glitter.  A fun way to kickstart the New Year, right?  

Though I could have added more festive / wintery items (mini evergreen trees, plastic animals, snowman accessories, etc.) to the sensory bin, I just stuck to the usuals this time around… Plastic cups, bowls, spoons, and cookie cutters and the kiddos loved it.

IMG 4042Three of the four munchkins were very eager to join.

IMG 4052Let the fun begin!

IMG 4053The sparkles are hard to see, but if you look closely, you should be able to spot them.

IMG 4048Kinslee digging in.

IMG 4066The fourth monkey just couldn’t resist the fun.

IMG 4076Snow dough toes. ☺

IMG 4072Korbin was a master moulder.

IMG 4073A girl who isn’t afraid to get messy. 

IMG 4075Snow dough smoothie, anyone?

IMG 4085Experimenting with snow dough snowmen…

IMG 4089A safer building site.

IMG 4090Snowballs stacked.

IMG 4097Ummm, Grae… What happened to your hair?

IMG 4098Who says the snow dough has to stay in the bin?

IMG 4103Mission accomplished!

IMG 4104This explains things.


Sparkly Snow Dough (we doubled this recipe for a group of 4 children)

  • 8 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of baby oil (or other oil)
  • 1 small container of white/silver/blue glitter

Mix with your hands or a whisk until ingredients are evenly distributed.  Play!


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Remnants of a Messy Play Date

Gracen had a wonderful time with her friends at her birthday party and has talked about having friends over to play every day since.  So with my little lady’s wishes tugging at my heartstrings and our beautiful Vancouver weather continuing into September, I decided to host our first ever {outdoor} messy play date.  

It’s been something Gracen’s been anticipating all week, and yesterday, she helped me pick out and put together our snacks, sensory bins, and art stations, and today we had four of her little friends over to play in the backyard.  It was morning of ‘treats’, friends, hugs, and getting dirty, which suited Gracen just perfectly.  

Though I tried to take photos during the play date, attempting to drink a hot coffee, engage and supervise a handful of one and two year olds, and visit with fellow mommies at the same time ended up being quite a lot on its own.  Afterwards, however, once all of our friends had departed and Miss G was tucked in her crib for her nap, I couldn’t help but smile at the piles of mess all around me.  Mostly eaten snacks, well played with sensory bins, almost empty juice cups, dried up paint, and little white plaster footprints across our backyard pad… All signs filled bellies, happy babies, and old-fashioned messy play.  

Play date snacksIMG 9611IMG 9615IMG 9617IMG 9619IMG 9621Sand

IMG 9624IMG 9625Apple stamping
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Gracen’s {2nd} Backyard Birthday Bash

Over this past long weekend, we celebrated Gracen’s 2nd birthday with a backyard party in the sunshine. The afternoon went amazingly well… The sun was shining as hoped. There was just the slightest breeze.  The decorations were handcrafted and colourful. The snacks were made of local ingredients and individually portioned for easy toddler chasing. The wee ones played until they were soaking wet and filthy.  The sweets were plentiful. And Miss G had the time of her life… An afternoon filled with “yittle fwends”, tons of play,  2.5 “cupcakes”, Davison Orchard’s fresh-pressed apple juice, an endless supply of crackers and treats, and a generous sprinkling of hugs – for her, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Since the party, she’s wanted to talk about it constantly.  “Mama talk (about) Grae Grae’s birf-day party?” is a request I now hear more times a day than I have fingers.  We discuss all of the details of the day, and inevitably end the conversation with a “More play yittle fwends, Mama?”  Yes, Babygirl… We’ll have your little friends over to play again sometime very soon.

Here is Miss G’s special afternoon in photos… (Be prepared. This may be the most photo heavy post of. all. time.  But I’m sure you already expected that, right?)

The Invitations:

IMG 7334IMG 7336These simple little invites {along with almost all of the decorations} were made while we were in the Okanagan on vacation.  Using this free printable as a starting point, I sketched out what I wanted the invitations to look like and Bradley designed them using Photoshop.  Once they were designed, we printed them on Grandpa Dave’s colour laser printer, cut them out by hand, created homemade pouches for them, and punched out some pretty confetti to tuck into the pouches.

The Decor:

IMG 9119This last minute little chalkboard greeted guests on our front porch and asked that they make their way around the side of the house.

IMG 9070I crafted a few of these ribbon chandeliers out of embroidery hoops and grosgrain, and hung them up around the yard to dance in the breeze.

IMG 9079Timeline TreeLast year, I did a more traditional timeline of Gracen through the months, and although I loved the idea, this year I wanted something a little bit different…  I ended up deciding on a ‘timeline tree’.  We chose 2 photos for each month {from 13 to 24}, added the text using Photoshop, printed them, and hung them back to back using jute and curtain clips from IKEA that we already had on hand. And voila. Our plum tree instantly became a tree filled with memories of the past year.

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IMG 9104Across the way, in our fig tree, I hung the felt poms we had made for last year’s party, giving it just a touch of colour.  The beauty in not really having a colour scheme, is that everything goes. ☺

IMG 9096On the main food table, we displayed the letters T-W-O I crafted with cardboard letters, tissue paper dots and modge podge.

IMG 9098I also strung up one of the many fabric buntings I sewed for the occasion between two vintage apple crates that Grandma Charlotte’s family has had since she was a little girl. In the middle, I framed a copy of the birthday interview I did with Miss G on her real birthday so that guests could take a read.

IMG 9318For an added touch, we picked a couple of the beautiful dahlias growing in our front garden and popped them into vintage mason jars that used to belong to Gracen’s Great Grandma Amy.

IMG 9106Our photo booth backdrop consisted of a plain sheet {not very glamourously duct} taped up to the wall of our house, and a handmade fabric bunting strung across it.

The Snacks:

IMG 9125Here’s a peek at the food table…  Since the party was from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., we stuck with snacks only and tried to keep them as portable as possible so that parents could munch and chase after their wee ones at the same time.  Also, although we had a separate table to baby/toddler friendly treats, I wanted to make sure that everything we served was Gracen friendly (save the desserts)…  Nothing more insulting than not being able to eat the food served at your own party!

IMG 9126On top, a layer of hummus topped with fresh veggies, many from Grandma Charlotte’s garden.  On the bottom, individual layered bean dip cups {with homemade pita chips on the side}.

IMG 9128Fresh berry cups.

IMG 9129Okanagan cherry cups.

IMG 9100Plums picked straight off our tree the night before.

Besides these snacks, we had individual fruit salsa cups with homemade maple cinnamon crisps, as well as brown paper bags of stove-top popcorn.

IMG 9127For the adults, we served chilled lemonade and citrus iced tea in mason jar cups.

IMG 9130We also had an ice water station, which the kids quickly discovered and had a blast playing with.

IMG 9321At the toddler table, we served toddler trays (which included a variety of healthy bite-sized snacks), as well as fresh-pressed apples only apple juice from our favourite place in Vernon – Davison Orchard.

IMG 9323And for the wee babes – purée pouches in a variety of flavours.

The Sweets:

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the desserts on the day of the party…  Not sure how I managed that one, but I’ll blame it on being busy I guess.  Fortunately, I took a is a couple of crumby photos the night before while I was baking into the wee hours of the morning.   

IMG 9068For the adults, I decided to try out these mini mason jar cheesecakes and I’m so glad I did. They were easy to make, easy to hand out, and out of the 20 I made, we were only left with 2 at the end {at a party with a total of 12 adult guests}.

IMG 9069For the munchkins, I used Pioneer Woman’s vanilla cupcake recipe (I made them using 1/2 wholewheat flour), baked them in flat-bottomed ice cream cones (a trick I learned early in my Kindergarten teaching days – no wrappers to mess with and much easier for little ones to hold), and topped them with this {ridiculously rich} buttercream frosting, candy sprinkles, and fresh raspberries.  I also baked some regularly (sans the cone for adults that preferred cupcakes to cheese cake).

For Miss G, I whipped up this sugar-free banana muffin recipe (and added an extra banana, skipped the salt, and replaced the melted butter with grapeseed oil), baked some in a flat bottomed cone so it would look like the ones many of her friends were eating, and topped it with fresh whipped cream (made without added sugar – just a touch of vanilla) and a fresh raspberry on top.  I baked up the rest of the batch as regular muffins, and topped several of them with whipped cream and fresh raspberries for the other babes who don’t do sugar yet.

The Play Stations:

IMG 9116Since first birthdays are often more about the adults than the wee ones, I wanted to make sure that this year’s party was all about play.  Messy, fun, noisy, old-fashioned play, just the way Miss G likes it.  I set the stations up all around the yard, making sure there was plenty of space and a little something for all different tastes.

IMG 9073A big bucket of sidewalk chalk sat at the beginning of the path.

IMG 9074A construction bin filled with pea gravel , tower building supplies, scoops, tractors, and a hardhat for the little builders.

IMG 9075A cloud dough sensory bin for the wee ones who don’t mind getting messy.

IMG 9076A gardening bin for the aspiring green thumbs.

IMG 9077An ocean-themed bin for the little water lovers.

IMG 9078And a coloured spaghetti sensory bin for the mini sous chefs.

IMG 9088On the top of the grass knoll, there was a music making station that incorporated Gracen’s purchased music instruments, as well as several instruments that we’ve made together.

IMG 9095Up on the cement pad, we set up a sidewalk chalk painting station using homemade paints.

IMG 9089And on the other side of the yard, we used a hot water heater drip pan and this homemade bubble solution to create a ‘baby in a bubble’ station.

IMG 9112We also had Grae’s pool blown up and filled with water and toys, as well as the sandbox filled with all sorts of moulds, buckets, scoops, and plastic dinosaur bones.

The Birthday Girl:

IMG 9122After having a good hour and a half of quiet time in her room, we decided that the birthday girl was probably too excited to nap.  We got her up, lathered her with sunscreen, and she picked out a party dress and decided how she wanted her hair done.  Then it was time to head out into the backyard and get started on playing while we waited for her friends to arrive.

The Action:

IMG 9143Gracen was beyond thrilled when her guests started to arrive.  Hugs and playmates = one very happy little girl in our house.

IMG 9131Girls  Bubbles

IMG 9193IMG 9144Although the whole ‘baby in a bubble’ thing was really hard to do in the beginning, the solution did make great big bubbles using regular wands, so I was glad I had picked them up the night before.

IMG 9142IMG 9245IMG 9132IMG 9146All of the sensory bins, with the exception of the gardening one (which I don’t think even got touched), were a pretty big hit.

IMG 9141The kiddos enjoyed digging for dinos in the sandbox.

IMG 9139And the birthday girl made her rounds all afternoon.

IMG 9149This little corner was put together with our littlest guest and Grae’s beloved friend, “Baby Tate”, in mind… Away from the action, in the shade, and filled with all of Grae’s favourite toys from when she was a baby.

IMG 9154Before long, it was time to bust out the bikini and make a splash in the pool.

IMG 9157IMG 9138Judging by our now beautifully decorated cement pad, the sidewalk  chalk paint was one of the favourites.

IMG 9158IMG 9180IMG 9195IMG 9242The snacks, hugs, and company weren’t bad either…

Time for Cake:

IMG 9168IMG 9173IMG 9176IMG 9181IMG 9184IMG 9187IMG 9210As you can see by Grae’s face, she wasn’t so sure about her ‘2’ sparkler…  Luckily she had her little friend Jaiden nearby.  I think her excitement and lack of worry made everything alright.  What did go over very well with Miss G, however, were the “cupcakes”.  Yes, cupcakeS.  She ate every single last bite of the one I’d baked in the cone for her, then demolished a second one, and made her way through half of another.  Two and a half muffins?!  Hey, when it’s your party, you’re allowed.

Better with Time:

Grae in a  BubbleIMG 9238Jaiden in a BubbleAs the party went on and the bubble solution got handled more and more, the better the bubbles got (just like Jackie from Happy Hooligans said it would).  Our resident bubble expert, Jordan, was not only able to put both Gracen and Jaiden in bubbles, but he was also able to make bubbles that were seriously HUGE.

The Photo Booth:

Before leaving, we asked each of our guests to have their photos taken in our makeshift photo booth using the felt props I’d created for last year’s party.  Here they are…

IMG 9196Ava and Jordan (somehow their parents made it without being in the photo… sneakers!)

IMG 9202Auntie Brandie, Jackson, and Kevin.

IMG 9205Auntie Silke and Ainsley.

IMG 9208Grandma Charlotte and Uncle Brett.

IMG 9216Tracy and Keagan.

IMG 9225Auntie Steffie and Baby Tate.

IMG 9231Jaiden and Cheri.

The Goodie Buckets:

IMG 9025This was probably the part of the party Gracen looked forward to the most… Handing out her goodie buckets to her friends.  We’d collected little items for them for a long while and Grae was so excited about them that I’d made sure to really prep her about the fact that we’d be giving them away.  Thankfully, it worked like a charm and she was very happy {and proud} to hand them out at the end of the party.  

To go with our backyard theme, the buckets were filled with a watering can and sidewalk chalk (all bought at Michael’s), as well as a big beach ball (purchased at Superstore), a mason jar of Bouncing Bubbles, and a bubble wand (purchased at our local teacher’s store).  The best part? (And I totally blame me being excited about this on the Ogasawaras, because before them I never really got that excited about a good deal…) At regular price, each of the 8 buckets would have cost well over 16 dollars, but because we started collecting early and found some great deals, each only cost around $4! (Crazy, right?)

And that was our afternoon.  Miss G loved it and we did too. It was the perfect way to celebrate our little girl turning two.


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Saturday Snapshots

After a quick torrential downpour and a whole family nap (amazing!) the sun decided to grace us with its presence.  After a string of rainy days, we wasted no time heading out into the backyard to soak up a little dose of vitamin D.   We gathered up some sidewalk chalk, bubbles, our cloud dough sensory bin, a water sensory bin, a tricycle and a bicycle, multiple blankets, and homemade popsicles and enjoyed a laid-back afternoon outdoors, just the three of us.  Here are a few snapshots…IMG 4068IMG 4114Cloud dough sensory boxIMG 4072Blowin bubbles and water funIMG 4078Popsicles and tricyclesIMG 4093HopscotchIMG 4127Sidewalk art

Water play

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