Tea Bag Painting

If you haven’t already guess, we mommies at Jelly Bean Attic are totally into sensory play and experiences for toddlers and preschoolers. And we wanted to share a recent favorite sensory play idea that is suitable for babies / toddlers all the way to 6 years old or any young at heart really.

Tea bag painting is one of the few activities that naturally uses all senses, sight (the different colors), touch (texture of tea leaves and tea bags), taste (the tea, of course we only use fruit teas), hearing (the rustling of tea bags and tea leaves as they shake) and smell (the different teas smell really nice). Other sensory activities, we usually have to make the effort to include more of the senses, for example, we add in a scent such as lemon, vanilla, pandan essence on top of color to our play dough to get the extra sensory stimulation.


Tea bag painting is so simple to set up and can be done in various ways to make it more interesting. Plus, we all have some teabags at home, and at the basic level, all you need is just tea bags and paper. Water color paper is preferable if you intend to keep the “artwork” as normal drawing block or printer paper could tear and rip with the amount of water used. Fruit teas are the best as they come in various shades of pinks to purples, i don’t go out specially to buy teas to do this activity, but whatever i have at home on the day. I love it as it could be an impromptu activity. But in general, fruit teas for shades of pink to purple, black tea for the brown and green teas for a green tinge. You could buy some empty tea bags and get the children to fill in their own tea bags and “create” their own color. You could buy an assortment of teas that come in different tea bag types, e.g. some in the regular tea bags, and some in the “newer” triangular bags, so the younger children can have a more varied tactile experience.

In one of our classes that we conducted in the botanical gardens end of July, we incorporated tea bag painting with some pretend play, and the children not only got to paint, but they could “brew” the tea in little teapots and pour it out. They had snacks and really explored. Some, ripped the tea bags and they played with the contents, they mixed it with water and called it soup etc. But its great fun as children at all ages could play with the same thing in a different way that appeals to their interest level and age.

At home, i put out picnic mats and the children will pretend to have a picnic, my daughter will “cook” for her toys and the puppy, and sometimes she and her brother will make a “potion” together using the tea leaves. The baby will splatter the tea bags in water and the puppy will try to lick the tea, but its all good fun, and all three kids and the puppy can be entertained for a while. I have to admit it is a mess, hence the picnic mat (its dual purpose see? not only to feed into the picnic theme), i will just bundle everything into the mat and bring it to the bathroom to wash. The only good thing about this mess is that the mess smells really good……..


Sensory Bins 101 – Part 2

In this blog, we want to share more about sensory bins, activities and play ideas for your little ones.

Without further adieu, here are some of our favorites from the internet for the following age groups:

Scarf Sensory Bin on And Next Comes L

Dry Pasta noodles on Hands On As We Grow

Dyed Noodles on Growing a Jeweled Rose

Rainbow Rice on Kidz Activities

Drinking Straw Sensory Tub on I can teach my child

Tissue Paper Sensory Bin on And Next Comes L

Apple Sauce Experiment on Little Bins for Little Hands

Full Body Easter Fun on Simple Fun for Kids

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Farmhouse Sensory Play For Preschoolers on Frugal Fun for Boys

Scented Experiments on Epic Childhood

Cloud Dough on My Bored Toddler

Pigs in the Mud Play on Modern Preschool

Construction Sensory Bin on Sugar, Spice and Glitter

Ice Melt on The Jenny Evolution

Rainbow Ice Ball on Craftulate

Soap Foam Dough on And Next Comes L

Toddler Zen Tray on Busy Toddler

Wash the Dog on Pre-K Pages

Garden Sensory Bin on Mess for Less

Ocean Sensory on No Time for Flash Cards

I hope this introduction to sensory bins 101 would give you some ideas and confidence in setting up one at home for your little ones.

Please note that all activities should be parent or adult supervised.

Follow us for more posts on sensory play ideas and products that we will feature in the near future.

To view Part 1 of sensory bins, please click here.


Sensory Bins 101 – Part 1


featured“Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities and sensory tables facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.” – source PBS

One of the sensory play activities that we do at home is creating sensory bins for our toddler and preschoolers. We have been making these bins for our little ones since they were little. What is a sensory bin or sensory box? It’s basically a large container filled with tactile experience. Some of the simple fillers that can be put into the container are water, beans, rice, shaving foam, water beads and jelly are some of our favorites.

Sensory bin can be created for various ages to suit their development and occasions such as birthday parties. They can also be created on the fly, as simply as putting grains into a box with a spoon for a baby to explore scooping and pouring to build fine motor skills while you are preparing a meal. Or something more elaborate where you create a sandbox filled with “dinosaur eggs” to be excavated.

For my family, we often work with jelly and water beads because it’s fairy simple for us to make and the kids, ages 3 and 5 enjoy these activities so far. To keep things fresh, I change the color of the jelly, and I place different objects into the jelly for them to dig. Sometimes I add in water, ice cubes, water beads and shaving cream to spice things up. There are plenty of sensory play ideas on pinterest and blogs to get creative with your sensory bins.

We have also created sensory kits for sale by themes and can be purchased on our website. All items (Cloud dough, play dough, colored sand, waterbeads) are freshly made or hydrated so that you know your kids are working with good and fresh materials. 

Sensory kits

We have 5 themes to date for sale: 

Sensory Play box which contains playdough, colored sand, colored rice and waterbeads. They are sold in colored theme so that children can also learn about colors. We have them in pink and blue for sale.

Transportation theme makes a lovely present for kids who likes to learn about things that move.

Sweet Treats theme lets children create their own tea party or cooking time.

Ocean Treasure Chest theme has plenty of activities that a child can create and play with.

All activities should be parent or adult supervised.




I hope this introduction to sensory bins 101 would give you some ideas and confidence in setting up one at home for your little ones.

Follow us for more posts on sensory play ideas and products that we will feature in the near future.

For more sensory play ideas by age group, please click here.


The Crow and the Pitcher – Introducing Volume to Preschoolers

I wanted to start introducing some basic science principles to the children, as my oldest seems rather interested in how things work around him and as he is reaching 6 years, he is noticing and observing more of his surroundings and is particularly interested in how machines work. So i thought i will try to introduce the concept of volume to the children, but the concept of volume isn’t the most exciting topic, plus just the words “concept of volume” is enough for me to start yawning myself. But i remembered an old favorite children’s story my parents read to me when i was little, the story of the crow and the pitcher. The crow and the pitcher

I don’t have the actual story anymore, but thank goodness for the internet! I found a short clip of the crow and the pitcher, and i used it as an introduction for the children, on how the crow tried his best to solve his problem and didn’t give up until he had a solution (also another talking point you could elaborate on with the kids). He added pebbles into the pitcher to displace the water, so that he could reach the water. I didn’t go all the way and talk about displacement concepts with the children, as i wanted to keep it really basic about different sized marbles or balls having different volume, so its simple for them to understand (it is my first time as well!).

Our set up was simple, a see through measuring jug, so that they can see the water level rising, a bowl of different sized marbles, golf balls and some ping pong balls, and in our case, Mr Lego man that has fainted and dying of thirst….


I let them put in the marbles and have fun throwing balls into the jug for a little while and then called to their attention the different sizes of the balls, hence, the small marbles have the smallest volume as it is the smallest, the marble is larger so it has a bigger volume than the small marble, and the golf ball has the biggest volume as it is the largest. They also observed that the water level rises the most with golf balls versus the small marbles. Disclaimer: I get that this explanation is too simplistic, “But what about density?!” some might ask. Agree, but i think density is a little too hard to understand for preschoolers, if anyone has a better way of explaining volume or density please drop us a note!


In any case, i did try to address this issue, by giving them them some ping pong balls to throw in, we also had some random balls that floated that were the same size as the marbles, and the children noticed that they float even though they are almost the same size as the golf balls and marbles. I explained that even though some objects may be the same size, they could be different “weights”, and so some will float and some will sink, but i really left it at that point. I think anything more and they would be totally confused.


All in all, it was a fun hour for them, watching the video a few times, and then getting to “re-create” the bird throwing pebbles in the pitcher. They understood the concept of volume, so am happy since that was what i set out to achieve, and they unknowingly performed a simple water displacement experiment using balls of various densities, and Mr Lego man finally got his drink.




Moving Fish Paper Craft

I was on FB the other day and came across this cute tutorial on moving fish, it looked super interesting, plus they are both in the ocean phase and love anything regarding fishes and the oceans. Since it seems easy enough for the kids to try, and we had a bit of time before lunch, we decided to give it a go.

Here is the tutorial for those who want to try.

Moving Fish tutorial

I wanted to get the kids to make it on their own as much as possible, and i must say it went pretty well! Goes to show how time has flown by, that they are now able to do a lot of the crafts independently.

Both kids are now confident to use scissors on their own, and they are able to do the straight line cutting required. My older boy is able to cut the mouth and fins by himself (albeit slowly), but my daughter still needed some help in cutting curves.

Other than that, they both had no issues following the simple instructions, they found the coloring of the fish pupils particularly fun (go figure!).

Our end result! They were super proud of their fish and brought it with them for lunch to play with, might have to make more when we get back, doubt the poor fishes will survive lunch and the car ride……

Doodling Art Robot Project


We recently got this from the museum shop at Art Science Museum after visiting Future World exhibit. I don’t know what got into me getting this doodling robot but I thought it was really cool to try it out with the kids. Though the box says it’s for ages 8 and above, I was intimidated by it after opening the box.

So while the kids were napping, I opened it and decided to go through the instructions and have a first cut of it before doing it with my kids. First off, I am totally clueless about gadgets and putting these things together but hey, if a 8 year can do, so can I. Truth be told, I had to read the instructions about 5 times and needed to confirm my understanding with my husband. Hence the confidence in putting it together when the kids woke up.

I took about 20 minutes to put it together. You’ll need to get your own AA battery and also screwdriver. The kids were patient watching me. My daughter helped me sort out the screws, bolts and nuts and other pieces so that I could build it. For once, the kids saw me build a gadget and I hope that changed their perception that only Daddy is Mr Fix It, because Mummy can also do it too!

One reason why I wanted to do this project was to expose the children to the impact of technology to art. These drawing bots or generative art machines are fascinating. And there are a couple of other brands available in the market.  It was really exciting to see this little robot doodling across the paper in spirals and if I changed angles, they could go in a straight line. I foresee our children’s future to include projects like this and this is just a start. I hope this little success in building the doodling robot will give me a little more confidence and doing more of this in the near future.

Here’s a short video that I found on youtube that shows what the doodling robot does.

The box costs $25 at the museum shop but if you get it at Amazon, it is cheaper. Click here for the affiliate link for the product.

I hope this gives confidence to mummies out there who are keen to explore technology but are apprehensive.


Superhero Cape Tutorial

Pretend play is an important part of a child’s learning, with pretend play, they not only have fun, but also learn social skills, self regulation etc, and get to be imaginative as well. I try to encourage pretend play as much as possible, so when my boy asked for a superhero cape, i promised to make him one since

a. store bought ones are expensive and

b. he specifically wanted a Spiderman cape (his favorite).

So here are the steps:

  1. I got some fleece from spotlight, and i didn’t do any measurements, just pretty much held it up again him and marked down how long i wanted it to be. I folded the fleece in half and drew out half the cape, so when i cut it, it is still symmetrical.
  2. Sew a simple over lock stitch around the edgesIMG_4537
  3. Again, i eyeballed how long i wanted the ribbon to be, and just sewed it to the top of the cape and we have the skeleton of our cape done!

IMG_4538      4. I was going to cut out a square of a spiderman fabric i have, but my son wanted to draw his own spider man, so i cut out a piece of plain calico instead

IMG_9815     5.  Gave him some fabric crayons (i got mine from Muji), and off he went drawing his spiderman.

6.  I found some iron on vehicles (from my usual shopping ground – Daiso) and he arranged them around his picture, and i helped him iron them on.

IMG_9819       7. Sewed the finished picture all around onto the cape and we have our very own spiderman cape! Apparently i forgot to sew him a sword……


We love Future World – Where Art Meets Science


Our family enjoys heading to the Art Science Museum and we usually go first thing on a Saturday morning to avoid the crowd. Our key destination was to Future World, Where Art Meets Science at 10am. It’s a permanent exhibition at the museum which I was told that they would most likely be there for  3 years. There were few people at that time and that makes it extra pleasant for younger children because I don’t get worried about them getting lost in the mass of people or bumped into very enthusiastic older children running around the place.

I’m not going to cover all the areas that they have in this exhibition, just our favorites and what we did on one Saturday morning. The kids skip some areas because of their age and likely their mood of the day and I need to keep my eyes on my little ones instead of wandering off to take photos of the place. 🙂

The entrance is dark, but after a short walk, we walk into a large screen displaying moving waves drawn in a Japanese style that proves to be very hypnotic and the children love jumping onto the bean bags to soak in the tranquility for a couple of minutes before bouncing off to the next activity. My husband and I would love to chill out in front of this screen and zone out the whole morning. Ha! Dream on!20160730_101404The next stop that the kids love going is decorating the town scene and the ocean scene by coloring printed pictures and scanning them into a machine which transforms 2D picture into 3D. While Luke is less enthusiastic about the town scene because there’s a blue dragon that roars quite loudly on screen and that frightens him, Sophie is thrilled to decorate the town with houses, firetrucks, vans, buses, etc. And when Sophie is done with the town scene, she moves on to under the ocean theme. Though there are crayons provided onsite, I usually carry my own set of colored markers and so we use those markers to create vibrant pictures. For me, I usually use a black marker to doodle and scribble the picture. If you spot the turtle with black markings, that’s my husband’s attempt at cubism on an turtle.


While Sophie and I are busy doodling, scanning and admiring our work on the screen, Luke will be busy with the light ball orchestra area and also another large screen where there are falling hieroglyphic characters to create your own picture digitally. It’s called Story of the Time When Gods Were Everywhere. Sophie joins Luke after she’s done with her doodling and expends her energy jumping at the hieroglyphic characters or chasing and bouncing the light balls. This is a very good activity for them to work out their energy before heading off for lunch. The falling characters allows the children to decipher what it means. For example, Luke only chooses to fire symbols because he wants to see the fire appear on the screen. I enjoy the bird characters and seeing the flock of birds flying across the screen. It is very therapeutic for me and the kids enjoy chasing the characters. It’s a very pleasant experience where the children and I really enjoy.

We finish the visit when we walk into “Space”. This is a really narrow pathway and people are prohibited from touching the lights. It’s good to give the kids a heads up prior to entering though the staff would remind you, children may get overly excited and run into the room. My kids don’t really appreciate the lights and the lighting effect but get the thrill of walking through them. Here’s a couple of artistic shots taken by my husband.




I hope you enjoy this little post and hopefully if you have not had the chance to visit the exhibit, I urge you to take a little trip and see for yourself. It’s inspiring and amazing.



To get tickets to the exhibit, here’s the link.

Oh, and if you think you’ll be there more often, they offer annual membership. We signed up for a family season pass for $150 that admits 2 adults and 2 children ages 2-12.



5 Fun Painting Ideas for Toddlers – Part 1

Painting is great fun for kids, not only does it give the kids space and opportunity to be creative and explore, they also learn mixing, making new colors, improve their fine motor skills when using the brush etc. But not all toddlers will be receptive to painting in the beginning, especially when given a brush. Most toddlers, won’t be able to, and will not be interested in painting with a brush. So here are our top 5 favorite ways to get the kids painting using other tools.

  1. Marble painting

This is one of our favorite ways to get them painting and exploring colors. It is also easy to do and the mess is contained in the containers you use. All you need are marbles, golf balls, ping pong balls etc, a container or muffin tins for the paint, and a large container big enough to put a sheet of drawing paper at the bottom. The container need not be too high, and not too heavy that the child can’t shake it. Drop some balls into the paint container and move them onto the paper. Then SHAKE! For those who don’t like to get paint on their hands, use a spoon to transfer the ball to the container or you could add the paint on the paper directly and then the balls.

We did marble painting during one of our art classes awhile ago and the kids just kept “painting” sheet after sheet of paper and had super a lot of fun.

2 Painting with toys

OK, this might sound totally horrifying to some parents, and yes, there will be a mess, plus the toys to clean up…. HOWEVER, the kids really really enjoy this. Pick out some plastic toys that can be easily washed after and just let them dip the toys in paint and watch them have fun. Our favorite are making footprints with animals or dinosaurs, and tracks with our different cars, trains and planes. For the more adventurous parents, why not let the kids “race” their vehicles down a loooong strip of paper.

3. Stamping with fruits and vegetables

This is a great sensory activity for the toddlers, and it also serves as a good start if you want to introduce new or different fruits and vegetables to the children. You could cut up the fruits and vegetables in different ways with your child and explore the different shapes that you could make. Our favorites are the different citrus as they smell nice and their favorite vegetable shapes are lotus roots, broccoli and lady’s fingers.


This was another toddler art workshop where we did vegetable printing…

4. Sponge painting / stamping

We found some fun and inexpensive sponges from popular bookshop. It comes in a variety of basic shapes like circles, hearts etc, but it also comes in various animal shapes. Some has a handle so its easier for the younger ones to hold on to it. I even used some cheap foundation sponges i found in Daiso… whatever works.

Art friend also sell bigger stamps with a more “ergonomic” handle, of course, these would be more expensive, but i can’t resist these cute footprint set.


5. Hand and feet painting

Again, this will sound horrific to some parents, and the mess is pretty awful i must admit. I contain them in a given area and have some wet towels at the ready, so they have to clean their hands and feet before leaving the designated spot. There is something about paint and little hands and feet that no toddler is able to resist. They HAVE to mix the colors, and squish the paint between their fingers and toes. Super fun!

And if you would to capture their “artwork” on a more unique medium, why not try getting them to paint a lampshade? We found some inexpensive ones from Ikea, and makes a cute toddler art keepsake.

IMG_1087 (1)

Happy painting everyone!