How to entertain a preschooler and toddler with nothin' but trash…
If you've got a preschooler, I recommend you never throw away a foam tray before using it to its full sensory activity potential! We have enjoyed breaking and stabbing foam plates before, such as when we made our Foam Plate Sensory Letters.
Recently we were making egg shapes from our foam plates so that we could decorate our Easter tree with Homemade Shrinky Dink Eggs, and it turned into a sensory play time before we even got started with making the egg ornaments.
I traced shapes on to the bottom of the tray using a toothpick then handed the tray over to my four year old. He used a butter knife to punch out along the lines. The foam gave a satisfying bit of resistance, and he felt very good about being able to do such a helpful part of our craft project.
For the toddler I handed her pieces of the foam to break. After that wore thin, I handed her some plastic forks to stab into the foam (These happen to be our very fun construction themed forks.)
After a while I handed her a cup so that she could continue breaking foam pieces and then put them into the cup.
Over all a very engaging bit of sensory play that both kids liked, and that helped them practice their fine motor skills as well.