Making a Sensory Play Mat and Peg Characters

Disclaimer: I received a gift card from Jo Ann Fabric and Craft stores to help with purchasing the products to create this craft.

I love Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. This summer they a fantastic program that has 72 wonderful Summer Crafts. These ideas are spectacular on their own but I like to put my own twist on things. So when I saw the fabulous Treasure Map project I knew it would be a fun project to work on with my kiddos.

First we had to decide what kind of map we were going to make. Mikey decided he wanted a Treasure Map. He wanted there to be a castle. He has been really into Knights, Dragons, castles, and swords. So I went to making our castle, It was easy. I just did a quick sketch of what I wanted the castle to look like. You don’t need it to be perfect. It’s for kids they will love it no matter what it looks like. I made a drawbridge I cut a half oval in my castle and then glued some of the same paper to the back of the oval so that the scrapbook paper would be thicker and the print would be on both sides.

After we had decided what we wanted to be on our map. I began to cut shapes to represent different landmarks. Every night Mike tells the kids stories. The kids tell him what they would like the story to be about. Kaia’s stories are almost always about Unicorns, Princesses and Faeries. While Mikey likes his stories to be about Knight ,Dragons, and other creatures. These stories have become a whole world created by Mike with suggestions from the kids. Meaning the Unicorns almost always are in a forest called the Tangle Wood Forest, The Mermaids are generally in the Singing Spring etc. So that is what we decided our Map would be. It would be a map about this world that they hear about every night.

The base of this map is made from a cork roll which gives it a fun attribute. You can stick things in it. In our case I made little Flags out of craft foam and pipe cleaners. I cut the pipe cleaners to the size I wanted and hot glued them to small pieces of cut up craft foam. I also decided that I wanted this map to have many different textures. I wanted it to not only be visually exciting but and exciting sensory experience for them as well.

Here is our castle which we call Bright Stone Tower. I glued jewels to the inside of the drawbridge so when the kids open it they can see and feel the beautiful treasure inside. There is also Dead Man’s Ditch. It is made from scrapbook paper that has a weaved texture. It feels kind of like a basket. I also used foam stickers to liven it up a bit.

The Creeping Marsh and The Worlds End. These places often make appearances in their nightly stories. There are mermaids who live at The Worlds End which was made with blue craft felt and fiber fill (usually used to make pillows). Big Bug like creatures live in the Creepy Marsh which was made from fabric (found in the scrap fabric area) and craft foam bugs.

The Sky Cap Mountains were made from textured craft felt and the white snow is made from fabric paint. The Wandering Island was made from scrap book paper, in both a water print and a textured weave. The palm trees are craft foam stickers.

Tangle Wood Forest is made from scrap book paper. I did use a tree punch that I already had. I am sure you could find something similar at Jo-Ann’s.
We decided that we love our map but that it needed a little something more. So we created figures to go along with it. I used wood clothespins to make our figures.

The first figure I made was this Knight. I used gray acrylic paint to paint the knight. I used puffy paint for the shield and a sharpie for the sword. The cape was made with felt. I used a glue gun to attach it.

The Dragon was made next. I used two different shades of green acrylic paint to paint the dragon. I used a sharpie for the face and tummy scales. The wings, tail and back spikes are made from green craft felt.

The Princess was made with pink acrylic paint. The dress, crown and cape are made from craft felt. I added a few gems with my hot glue gun. Because Princesses need some sparklies.

The Unicorn may be my favorite. I am not sure its between the Unicorn and the Dragon. I used a silver pipe cleaner for the horn cut to size. The eyes are made form small rhinestones. The hair is actually made form party blowers. I just took off the pretty foil part and turned it into unicorn hair. I added a small flower to the front because it needed it. The muzzle or nose is made from a small white pompom. The ears are made from craft felt.

The Mermaid was made using acrylic paint again. This time though once the paint dried I used teal glitter glue over it to make the mermaid tail sparkle. The bottom fin is made from craft felt.

This play set is super easy to put together and take apart. I had an extra baggy that we use to keep all the figures and flags in. Then we just take the baggy and roll it up in the map its very compact.

You can view the full online Cape Discovery Catalog & Jo-Ann’s Weekly digital advertisement to see everything that is going on! You can find a single coupon for 40% off one item there as well! There are even more craft ideas & you can find out what is on sale when you visit in store & online!

What kind of Summer crafting activities do you enjoy doing with your kids or even for yourself? Which one of the Jo-Ann Summer craft activities are you most excited about?

Making Fossils

We made fossils! We used this Salt Dough Recipe to make them

The kids rolled out the dough and used a biscuit cutter to cut out circles

They then pushed small dinosaur toys into the dough to create imprints

We then baked them and let them harden

Other Dinosaur Theme Posts you may enjoy
Fizzy Bubbling Dinosaur Slime
fizzy slime
Dinosaur Bone Excavation Sensory Bag
Picture 364
Dinosaur Bone Excavation Preschool
Picture 1168
Making Fossils

Dinosaur Excavation Sensory Table

Magnet Painting Experience

Ages: 3-5years


The class I am observing has been exploring magnets and how they work. The children have been playing with magnets every day. They have also been working on marble painting in the classroom. I would like to introduce a new way to explore with magnets by doing some magnet painting. I feel like this is a great way to bridge between the two activities I have observed this class working on.
magnet painting5
Materials Needed:
•Metal balls
•Magnet wands
•Bowls for the paint and spoons to lift the metal balls out of the paint
magnet painting4
•This experience can take place in the indoor classroom or on the outdoor classroom


•The set up will look like 4 boxes have been placed upon the table each with a piece of paper inside and each being propped up by two blocks. I will have the bowls with paint in them set up in the center of the table so the children can move the metal ball covered in the desired color of paint to their box. The magnetic wands will be placed beside the boxes.

•A great way to initiate the activity is during the morning meeting by asking “How we might paint with magnets?” You can talk about “magnetic force” and how it works. We will be using magnetic force in a different way instead of building (like using magformers or magnatiles) we will be pushing magnets around to create force and to create a picture. The provocation will be the setup and the invitation to explore. “How can we use magnets to create a picture?”.

•The children might participate by using the magnets below the box and observing the paint patterns and movements of the metal ball. They can use different distances observing how the metal ball works and add different colors or multiple balls to see what happens.
•The open-ended questions may be as follows: I wonder how the magnet is pulling the ball through the paint? What happens if you gently pull the magnet around or if you pull more forcefully? What does the painting look like or remind you of? I plan for this to be a small group activity no more than four children at a time. All four children will be making their own paintings at the same time.
•The language introduced may include the following FIVE words: magnet, motion, magnetic force, platform, magnetic field.

•To support the children’s learning further I would explore making magnet paintings with more than one child at a time so introducing cooperative art. Also introducing other items that are metal and non-metal to see what they are able to move through the paint with the wands and what they are not able to move through the paint.
•Simplify- To meet the needs of a new “explorer” I would allow them to explore the paint and the magnets.

•Extension- To meet the needs of a child who needs a more complex level. I would challenge them to think of how they could use the magnets without touching the box with it. Can they find the magnetic field that will still work.

Using the California Learning Foundations these are some of the learning concepts you may observe

Social/ Emotional:

Initiative in Learning: 5.1

Developmental Experiences:

Enjoy learning and are confident in their abilities to make new discoveries although may not persist at solving difficult problems.

Children become engaged in learning opportunities, approach learning with enthusiasm, and have confidence in their capacities to learn more. But they may give up when facing difficult problem ­solving challenges.

Shows interest in many different activities in the classroom.

Responds positively to a teacher’s invitation to try a new activity


Language Use and Conventions: 1.1

Children understand and use language to communicate with others effectively.

Use language to communicate with others in familiar social situations for a variety of basic purposes, including describing, requesting, commenting, acknowledging, greeting, and rejecting.

With my open ended questions I hope to attain better insight into the children’s language skills. I will be listening in particular for children using language to: Describe: The child says, “the magnets are moving the paint.”, Requesting: The child asks, “Can I have more paint?” , Commenting: The child says, “This is my painting.” (The above are some examples I will be looking for similar types of comments.) I will also look to see if the children are using the vocabulary I introduce to them.

Visual Arts:

Notice, Respond, and Engage: 1.1

Notice and Communicate about objects or forms that appear in art.

Documenting Learning:

You can document the learning by recording anecdotal observations and by taking pictures.

Another take on this activity Magnet Painting Experience

Magnet Painting:

Materials Needed:
Paper plate (the cheap kind not the waxed kind)
Magnet Wand
Tempera Paint
Magnetic balls

1. Put small drops of paint on plate
2. Now place two magnetic balls IN the paint and then hold a magnet UNDER the plate.
3. Using the magnetic wand under the plate use the wand to move the marbles through the paint and watch the colors mix

Sight Word Smash

We have been Kaia’s sight words so I thought it would be fun to make a game out of it. So we made Cotton Ball Rocks here is my recipe for them
The kids each chose a color

After being baked

I used a sharpie to write kaia’s sight words. Mikey is not yet learning sight words so for him. I used shapes, letters, and numbers, to help him with his recognition.

We made a lot!

The kids used real hammers they are kids sized and sold at Red ToolBox

Our children were very well supervised. Please supervise your children if you decide to do this activity

Kaia was reading her words in no time and very excited to do so.

Mikey loved this activity too!

Making Lollipops


Jolly ranchers
Tin foil
Lollipop sticks
Baking Spray


Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

1. For an easy lollipop, place three jolly ranchers side-by-side on a greased cookie sheet.
2. For a shaped lollipop, wrap tin foil around a cookie cutter(s) and coat with baking spray. Set the cookie cutter(s) on a greased baking sheet.
3. Place three (or more depending on the size and shape you have made) jolly ranchers inside the tin foil mold. Or crush to make it even easier.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, watching carefully as they will become paper thin if you leave them in too long. Remove from the oven.

Gently press a lollipop stick halfway through the jolly ranchers, twisting slightly in order to completely mold the candy around the stick. If you are using the cookie cutter method, carefully peel away the tin foil from the candy and then insert the lollipop sticks.

Set aside and allow to cool completely.