Well, friends, this week’s Toddler Explorers has a lesson I’d like to share with you: don’t use cloud dough inside your carpeted library. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
For week 2, we had about 85 people, so we picked up a handful over last week. It was crowded but we got excellent feedback. We repeated some of the same stations as last week (baby toys out on foam mats, toddler toys out on a parachute, puzzle table). I added a huge bin of scarves to the baby area, which led to a lot of peek-a-boo and throwing heaps of scarves into the air. And some parents cleared the toys off the parachute and used the parachute! I would have loved to do librarian-led parachute activities, but the crowd is too big and I need to be free to do everything else, so it was great to see them using it.
I introduced a couple new stations this week, including one with jumbo nuts and bolts from Lakeshore Learning. I also set up some ramps for the kids to roll balls down. The ramps were pieces of gutter that we happened to have in storage. (What? Everyone doesn’t have pieces of gutter in storage?)
There was also mess-free finger paint (put finger paint in Ziplock bags, duct tape the seal and let the kids smush the paint around in the bags) and ocean animal stamps with ink pads.
And for our sensory bins there was… cloud dough. It’s a flour/oil mixture in an 8:1 ratio (I used canola oil so there would be no problems if anyone decided to give it a taste, and added some Kool-Aid for color). It has the texture of sand, so you can mold it together or crumble it apart, but it feels silky to the touch. Sounds fun, right? And it was–the kids LOVED it. However, probably unsurprisingly to everyone but me, it made a HUGE mess. Like, of epic proportions. It got on the kids, it got on the parents, it got on their shoes and they then tracked it all over the room and into the library. It took two staff members with two vacuums about 20-30 minutes to get it all up. (And I am super lucky that those two staff members plus a teen volunteer were willing to help me clean up! I’d still be there vacuuming cloud dough if it weren’t for their help.) I kept telling the parents “It won’t be this messy next week!” They were all very lovely about it, though (no complaints, just positive feedback, phew!), and several even offered to help clean up.