Jillian Stockert (@jillianstockert on Instagram) is the mom behind themed sensory bins, intentional play and hands-on learning. She regularly takes to Instagram to showcase her boys' interests, arts and crafts and provides tons of inspiration for activities you can do at home with your little ones.
Get to know Jillian:
Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jillian! I went to school for Elementary Education and loved my time as a first grade teacher. After starting a family, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. It has been everything I’ve ever dreamed of, and it makes me feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world. I have two wonderfully animated and curious boys. Our oldest is closing in on four and the youngest is two and a half. They are busy boys, but I’ve found this gives my life nonstop fun and a deeper purpose.
What is your education background and how has it helped you in motherhood?
I have a major in elementary education, human development and family science. These majors have definitely made me a more informed mom and have driven my passion in creating hands-on and play-based learning activitiesfor my boys. Having these backgrounds have given me some of the knowledge I need to create activities that are age appropriate for my boys and will help prepare them for school in the future.
You have such creative and engaging ideas for sensory bins and hands-on activities that are also educational, where do you get the inspiration for the themes?
My inspiration for my themes comes from a few different things. First, there are so many amazing creators out there. Social media is full of individuals who are excited to share ideas and have a love for creating content and activities that benefit our littles.
Some of my favorite accounts are:
Second, my boys! When they are interested in the “theme”, they will be enthusiastic about learning. Their interests are always evolving, making learning a fun process. Lastly, I like to bring in themes that revolve around holidays and seasons. It’s a great way to get your littles to learn about these topics.
What are 5 basic items/props/supplies every mom should have on-hand for sensory play? And where can you find them?
Sensory play does not have to be complicated. My favorite items can most likely be found in your homes! Rice, beans, pasta, water, and measuring cups/spoons are all perfect for sensory play. Playdough and kinetic sand are great items as well. You can find them at most stores! Thrift and dollar stores are also perfect for sensory items. They have all the bases and loose parts you could need! Plus, budget friendly activities are a huge advantage!
Some small shops that share tons of fun inspo using their products include Preschool for Nuggys, Little Creators Co., Natura Toys, Colette's Play Sets. And, of course, we love incorporating our picture alphabet blocks from Smiling Tree Toys!
What has been your favorite theme/activity you've done? Which one has your kiddos enjoyed the most?
I think my favorite theme has been Christmas. It’s such a magical time of the year. My boys are car and truck lovers, so I would say their favorite theme was our construction theme. It was filled with tons of hands-on play activities and, of course, toy trucks!
What is a piece of advice for anyone wanting to start exploring more sensory and intentional play with their little ones?
If you’re wanting to start sensory and play-based learning at home, start slow and just do it. Sensory play can be messy, but don’t let that scare you. Set some base rules like keeping things out of the mouth and keeping messes to a contained area. Sensory play is fun and filled with tons of benefits and is a great way to implement play and learning!