Nothing engages the littles quite like some squelching, squishing, scooping and mixing.
Here are 9 fun and simple sensory play ideas that have been popular at our place.
Gelatine. Yep, gelatine.
My poor husband often opens the fridge to find random containers with random household items setting in gelatine.
Recently it was Duplo.
For this experience, I followed the directions on the gelatine package. I then placed pieces of Duplo in the mix and refrigerated it.
It resulted in a mixture that my daughter called “gloopy.”
TIP: Once the Duplo was “freed” from the gelatine and interest had waned in squishing the gelatine, I provided a tub of soapy water. The kids then washed the Duplo and had fun with water play.
I like to add a few more teaspoons of gelatine powder than recommended on the packaging.
This leaves you with a nice firm “cake” of gelatine.
It’s then easier to remove from the mould and the gelatine holds it’s shape.
You can then use food colouring (watered-down) and pipettes to squirt colour into the gelatine.
It’s also fun to go on a flower-gathering expedition and then to set the flowers in gelatine.
TIP: Melt the gelatine powder in hot water, and then top up with cold water to prevent your flowers from going brown and shrivelled.
2. Potions in the garden
There’s nothing quite like engaging your senses in the Great Outdoors.
If your kids are anything like mine, they love being given various kitchen utensils for backyard use.
Arm them with tubs, containers and spoons so they can collect things in the garden. Let them create their own potions.
In this picture, my daughter was making us “soup.” Yum.
3. Squishy sand
My kids LOVE sand. My husband and I LOATHE it. Especially when it is traipsed all through the house. The amount of time that my kids spend engaged in sand play makes all the sandy footprints in the house worth it.
This activity is based on a recipe from my friends over at Little Button Diaries.
It involves mixing a cup of cornflour in with some sand and adding in water and washing-up liquid. It makes for great squishing and is mouldable!
4. Play dough
Play dough never fails to calm the farm around here.
Add in a few drops of essential oils to add to the sensory play experience.
Lavender. Cinnamon. Mandarin. Limitless possibilities.
Adding in some loose parts always makes play dough a bit more interesting too.
Here’s my never-fail play dough recipe.
5. Nature finds
There is a mulberry tree on our street. Whenever it fruits, the footpath is covered in berries.
In this activity, we collected some and had fun “painting” with them. It also lead to a great discussion about ripe and unripe. Sensory play can offer so many opportunities for vocab development.
6. Rice play
Rice is always fun for scooping and sprinkling practice.
We colour our rice with a few drops of food colouring, dripped into a ziplock bag.
Shake the rice around to colour and then leave in the sun for a few hours to dry.
To try and contain the rice, in this activity we sprinkled it onto contact paper.
The rice obviously stuck to the contact paper, meaning the vacuum cleaner didn’t have to work overtime sucking up all the rice on the floor. (Sensory play can be messy, no?!)
We slid a hand-drawn stencil under the contact paper to try and make some simple mandalas.
7. Coloured spaghetti
Cook your spaghetti and add a few drops of food colouring to the pot.
Let the spaghetti sit in the dye for a few minutes and then drain.
Leave to dry.
Spaghetti is fun to team with a pair of scissors.
Sensory place plus fine motor practice!
8. Kids in the kitchen
Similar to the Great Outdoors, the kitchen is another fab place for sensory play.
Involving kids in the kitchen can be messy but it really does engage all of the senses.
One of our favourite family meals is homemade pizzas.
Common sense prevails in all sensory play situations.
My little fella still loves testing things out with his mouth, so close adult supervision is required.
Yoghurt is a fun food to squealch and smoosh.
We added a few drops of food colour to create a paint. We also discussed how we were exploring the yoghurt and it was okay to “paint” with it in this situation. But not in other situations. Like at the dinner table. Or out in public. Nobody wants a yoghurt masterpiece out at Sunday brunch.
What sensory play experiences do your kids enjoy most?
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