Sensory Play by Barbara Simons
We’ve finished tidying, cleaning and sanitizing our classrooms, which are far quieter than we teachers would like. We miss you and the children and hope to see you soon!
In the meantime, you will find some fun recipes below that encourage sensory play. All of them include ingredients and tools you might have in your home so no trip to the store is needed.
Sensory play is a key part of early education and has many “brain
building” benefits. More significant in times like these, sensory play is also inherently
calming. In the attached photo, you will see a picture of my then preschool
child playing with “oobleck” during Hurricane Sandy. Our cable and
internet had gone out and our power flickered on and off all day which created
anxiety for us both. Sensory play rescued us, at least for a little
while, from the stress of the day.
A few thoughts, before we dive in:
- Set the safety rules. For example, grownups get things off high shelves and do the hot parts.
- Be creative. Don’t have food coloring? Skip it. Or let an old marker sit in the water for a bit. Don’t have construction paper? Cut up old bags or boxes. Try different things for a paint brush like fingers, kitchen tools, q-tips or an old toothbrush.
- Don’t worry about producing a product. The goal is to have fun.
- Do this in a place where it is ok to be messy like the kitchen, garage or outside. A tray or cookie sheet with a lip is helpful for keeping things neat but isn’t absolutely necessary.
- Although there’s no harmful ingredients, discourage tasting to avoid germs (especially if multiple children are playing).
1. Mix 1 part water with 1.5 – 2 parts corn starch in a large container.
2. Add a small amount of food coloring if you wish.
3. You have just created a non-Newtonian fluid that has properties of both a liquid and a solid.
4. Dig in and play. Add cups or spoons if you wish, but
hands alone are fun, too.
1. Mix 1 cup salt with 1 cup flour and 1 cup of water.
2. If you wish, add food coloring.
3. The children can use the paint with a variety of brushes. Or, scoop some on a cookie sheet with a lip and fingerpaint.
4. Press a piece of paper on top and then peel it off to reveal the big Ta-Dah! (I played with this myself and thought that fingerprinting was more fun.).
5. Leftover paint can be stored in a container with a tight lid.
1. Mix 3/4 cup of water with food coloring and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. (You could even add a tsp of vanilla, lemon or orange extract to scent it if you wish).
2. Heat it on the stovetop until almost boiling and add 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of salt.
3. Cook gently and stir until it comes together (it will look like a sticky disaster for most of the cooking time).
4. Let cool a bit on a tray.
5. Add a little bit of flour if it is still sticky, and knead it until it is smooth and ready for playing.
6. This can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.
7. Alternately, dump all the ingredients in a bowl and heat in the microwave in 1-minute increments and stir in between. Then let cool on a tray and knead as above.
I hope you consider trying one of these activities. I miss those smiling faces!
Hugs, Barbara S., Lead Teacher, Cooperative Nature School