All Posts by Erin Hulslander

About the Author

Erin is a mom to Brendan and Emma, and a wife to Nick. Erin and her family live in Shelby Township, Michigan. They love to be outside and going to the Zoo is a weekly activity for Erin and her family. Being creative and learning are their priorities when it comes to our children so arts and crafts are a huge deal around their household and making up fun games to play to get her children learning!

Jun 03

Sensory Play – Why It’s So Important and How You Can Do It Too.

By Erin Hulslander | Power Of Play

If you follow a mama on Instagram then you have probably read, have seen or heard them talk about sensory play.

It seems to be popping up everywhere lately and has been a huge hit in my household. It is super easy to set up a sensory play table and I can almost guarantee if you’re reading this post, you have all the materials you will ever need to set one up. For those of you who are new to the sensory play topic, here is a little oversight as to what it means and why it is important for our young children (older kids have fun with it too) to engage in this type of play. Sensory play helps our toddlers learn to explore and investigate the different types of materials that can be used during play. It helps children use their different senses, helps build up their nerve connections while also developing their fine motor skills.

There are many ways to do sensory play. In my house, we like to fill our table up with rice or garbanzo beans. I dye our rice and beans to be the colors of the rainbow. It’s simple to do this – and all you need are baggies, food coloring, and rice or beans. Hours of play happens when the rice and beans are at the table. Construction vehicles usually make their way to the table and my son spends hours at the construction site. We also use a form of kinetic sand at our table and make sandcastles. The ideas are endless when it comes to sensory play.
The sensory table is also used for arts and crafts time. Cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them onto paper to make a picture is also a great way for children to play and use fine motor skills.

Like I said, the possibilities are endless when it comes to sensory play. Garbanzo beans and rice are just the start. Using a form of kinetic sand, or water beads also provides hours of fun and imaginative play. Kids do not even realize they’re learning when they are playing this way. They do not even notice the change that is happening inside their minds when they play with sensory items. Touch, hear, smell and sometimes taste are the main reasons why we do sensory play. Sensory play allows children to be able to feel different texture types, different smells of the objects being used, and when you use items like beans, you can test their hearing ability by asking what kind of sounds they hear when the beans hit the bin. So much learning goes on during these lessons, but children just think they are playing. It is a fun and easy way to build their vocabulary and motor skills. I also like to hide alphabet magnets in the beans or rice and have the children use magnets to fish them out.

52 Wooden 
Alphabet Magnets

Mighty Magnets

You do not need anything fancy to create sensory bins. If you have just clear plastic bins in your home you are ready to go with setting up your activities. I bought the activity table that Ikea sells, but you can also use the activity table at Toyology Toys and make the fun go anywhere your child wants. If you have some rice you can divide up however many colors you want to have and once they’re dry you can play without any messes from the food coloring. A word of warning though- rice play can get messy but nothing a vacuum can’t pick up so do not worry and just let your kid have some fun! I cannot wait to discover more ways to play this summer.

Sand n' Splash
Activity Table

Sensory play does not have to be super elaborate or fancy. It can be as simple as having a shoe box with holes cut into it and some pom pom balls. Or having your child use scissors to cut up paper. You can buy garbanzo beans and rice, leave them as is, or give them some color with food coloring. The possibilities are endless and the play will last for hours. Encouraging your child to use all of their senses while playing helps their cognitive growth, vocabulary, and motor skills. I would love to know if you have created a bin before, if you will create a bin after reading this post, or have ideas to share for activities so comment below!

Sep 21

A Fun Way To Experience Fall

By Erin Hulslander | Power Of Play , Toyology Toys Contributors

     As summer comes to an end, it’s nice to think about all the fun things you and your family were able to do. The places you visited. The time shared learning and exploring over the break. It was nice to be able to get the kids outside for playtime instead of always resorting to doing things inside. Now that fall and winter are approaching, many parents are wondering what can they do with their littles so that they aren’t cooped up inside all the time. Fall mostly means cloudy and rainy days. Winter means snow. The two seasons usually have parents wanting to keep their kids inside where it is dry and warm. What if I told you that there is something out there for parents to do with their kids that involves learning, engages with nature, and teaches independence all while the child plays? Do I have your attention yet?

I recently discovered an outdoor activity for my 3 year old son and I to do. The class is once a week for an hour and fifteen minutes. We spend this time outside and being one with nature. It is called ‘Tinkergarten’ and it has been the best learning experience for us. Tinkergarten is offered all over the United States. The best part about it is that the children navigate through the lesson being taught by the leader; by themselves! Parents are present, but only to observe. Tinkergarten is a year round gig and the only time they cancel class is if the weather can be dangerous. So if you’re looking to get out of the house once a week this fall and winter, join a class! There is a fee, but in my opinion it is so worth it for the experience alone. The kids get so much out of it. Personal growth, learning independence, fresh air, and how to listen and be apart of a group. If your kiddo is like mine, you will appreciate these attributes of the class.

https://www.facebook.com/tinkergarten/photos/a.370280333031414/1779774298748670/?type=3&theater

I don’t want to give away the whole experience in my post, but I do want to reiterate that this experience for us has been great so far. Our last class it was cold outside, so we bundled up and went exploring to make Stone Soup. I am looking forward to the snowy days we can go out and learn. Each week there is a new lesson to learn. It is great for those who are about to start school, or are in the early years of school. The lessons change for the seasons and each lesson is appropriate what happens during the seasons (fall; leaves and acorns on the ground).

Most Tinkergarten leaders offer a few free classes before the paid sessions start. I would highly recommend checking one out. You will not regret it, as I have said early in the post. If you are looking for something fun to do with your kiddos this fall and winter season that is fun, engaging, and gets your kids energy out…..go to Tinkergarten!

https://www.facebook.com/tinkergarten/photos/a.370280333031414/1793977563995010/?type=3&theater

ABOUT TINKERGARTEN: Tinkergarten is on a mission to elevate childhood. We’re growing a technology-enabled network of leaders that bring families together in a natural place in their community for classes where kids learn through play. Each class becomes a tight-knit group of children and adults who learn together through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. We help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Our expert-designed classes and activities help kids ages 18 months—8 years develop core life skills while enjoying healthy, fun, engaging experiences in the physical freedom of local green spaces.

Sep 12

Meet Erin Hulslander – Toyology Toys Contributor

By Erin Hulslander | Toyology Toys Contributors

Toyology Toys: Tell us a little about yourself.

Erin Hulslander: I am a mom to Brendan and Emma, and a wife to Nick. Brendan will be 3 in June and Emma just turned 6 months. We live in Shelby Township, Michigan. We love to be outside and going to the Zoo is a weekly activity for us. Being creative and learning are our priorities when it comes to our children so arts and crafts are a huge deal around here and making up fun games to play to get us to learn.

Erin, her husband Nick and her kids Brendan (3) and Emma (6 months)

Toyology Toys: What is your occupation?

Erin: I have my teaching degree, but being a stay at home mom is what I do full time.

Toyology Toys: Why are you interested in contributing to Toyology Toys?

Erin: I love Toyology Toys and the products they bring to their stores. I like that their toys engage learning while having fun and also the use of imagination. Becoming a contributor allows me to rave about their products even more so then I already do.

Toyology Toys: What do you love about toys?

Erin:  Toys are great for kids to be able to use their imagination. Play is a crucial role in a child’s development. Toys allow a child to play with their imagination while also learning. Learning is a huge part of why we play in my house. Whether it’s learning the ABC’s while playing with our letter popsicles, or counting cars. It doesn’t matter what toy we are playing with at the moment, learning is going on.

Toyology Toys: What does the “power of play” mean to you?

Erin:  The “power of play” to me means that while children simply play, they are also learning. As they play they learn important skills for their futures.

Toyology Toys: What specific topics would you like to contribute to Toyology Toys and the Power of Play?

Erin As a contributor I would like to contribute my background of teaching into learning while playing. As a mom of a toddler we are continuously learning new things and I have found different ways to play while we learn. I would like to be able to show others these ideas too.

Toyology Toys: Where can people follow you? (Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest)

Erin: Instagram is a great place to follow me. My handle is: erin_living_life. Blog: erinlivinglife.com

Erin's kids, Emma and Brendan