Tag Archives: sensory play

Sweet & Stretchy {EDIBLE} Marshmallow Dough

Edible Marshmallow Dough | Mama Papa BubbaWhile Gracen napped this afternoon, I decided to finally put the bag of marshmallows I’ve been carting around for the last couple of weeks to good use.  And oh my word, am I ever glad I did!  

IMG 0527I originally came across this post via Pinterest and immediately fell in love with the idea of marshmallow dough. As insane as it sounds, I often find myself thinking, hmmm…. what can we mix with cornstarch today?  (Totally crazy, I know.) We’ve tried water, shampoo, and hair gel, but I had never thought of marshmallow goo before!  I filed the idea away and knew it would make for an extra special day one day soon.  Today, when it came time to make it, rather than retrieving my computer from the other end of the house and pulling up the recipe, I decided to wing it.  And I must say, it turned out really well.  Turns out that our dough is missing 2 of the ingredients in the original recipe, but I think it would turn out well either way. The finished product is soft to the touch, yet firm, tacky, but not so sticky that it makes a mess of your hands, and it smells absolutely amazing – like Rice Krispie treats or cotton candy.

IMG 0530With the dough made, I set out a few fun things to explore it with on Grae’s little picnic table outside.  Included were some sundae cups and spoons, a knife, some heart-shaped cookie cutters, some birthday candles, some sugar crystals, and some candy sprinkles.  Then it was time to wait for the little miss to wake up.

IMG 0540I was so anxious for her to discover the play invitation I’d set up that it was just my luck that she’d ask to stay in her room for quiet play time upon waking up, rather than coming out and getting her afternoon started like she normally does. ☺  When she did come out of her room though, she spotted the marshmallow dough station through the window almost immediately.  Her eyes lit up with excitement and curiosity and she was off to play.  

IMG 0542After a little bit of cutting and pulling, it was straight to the candy sprinkles – and who can blame her really? They’re just so darn colourful and fun-looking!

IMG 0550Of course, what pairs better with sprinkles than birthday candles?

IMG 0555I think she may be getting anxious for the birthday party that’s happening next weekend…

IMG 0552The really cool thing about marshmallow dough is that other than being soft and smooth and smelling {and tasting!} delicious, it has an incredible amount of stretch.  It can be pulled and pulled and pulled without breaking.  Even when you’re trying very hard, as Miss G clearly is in this photo. ☺

IMG 0556Though it’s quite a bit firmer and stickier than a regular play dough, it still cuts well with cookie cutters, which Grae was pleased about.

IMG 0566And the plus side to the slightly sticky nature of the dough is that candy sprinkles cling to it really well.

IMG 0561Next up was some cutting practice.  Gracen really enjoys cutting, and I really should have brought out a sharper knife for her to continue practicing with, but a butter knife did work.  Because the dough is quite heavy, it provides a good amount of resistance, which is great for building up those little hand muscles.

IMG 0564Gracen loved exploring marshmallow dough, and though I really don’t want her eating corn-syrup filled marshmallows just yet, the beauty of this play material is that it is fully edible, so you don’t have to worry about little ones who are inclined to put things in their mouths getting sick if they do sneak a taste.

IMG 0548One thing to keep in mind is that because marshmallow goo eventually does set, you’re really only guaranteed one day of supple, mouldable dough.  For us, this wasn’t a issue as Grae played with it for a good long time and I felt we got more than enough play out of it to be worth the cost of the ingredients and the effort that went into making it.

If you’d like to make your own batch (which you certainly should!), here’s our modified version…

Coloured {Edible} Marshmallow Dough (inspired by My Buddies & I)

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or other high temperature tolerant oil)
  • 1 one pound bag of large marshmallows
  • 3 – 4 cups of cornstarch
  • food colouring

Over medium heat, melt coconut oil in a pot.  Once liquid, add the entire bag of marshmallows.  Stir frequently until marshmallows are completely melted.  

Working quickly, divide the marshmallow mixture into four bowls (approximately 1 cup per bowl) and stir in 3 drops of liquid food colouring into each.  Add 3/4 of a cup of cornstarch to each bowl to start.  Using a spoon, stir vigorously until marshmallow goo and cornstarch begin to come together.  Use your hands to knead in the extra cornflour once the dough is cool enough to handle.  If needed, add an extra 1/4 of cornstarch to each bowl to firm up the dough, however, be careful not to add too much as the dough will become overly hard.


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Fresh Mint Sensory Play

Fresh Mint Sensory Play | Mama Papa BubbaThe last few days have been hectic.  With only 5 days to pack up our entire house and prepare for our first of two upcoming moves, Brad and I have been working at full steam sorting through things, preparing boxes of items we’ll need for August, boxes that will go straight to Kuwait, and boxes that will go into storage until we return home to Canada in a few years.  Sort of sadly, that leaves our little lady to play independently almost all day long most days.  As a result, I’ve been pulling together all kinds of random, super simple activities with whichever everyday materials are nearby at the moment.  Luckily for me, this morning as I popped on the internet for a brief moment, there was a discussion on different ways to use fresh mint going on in one of the awesome blogger networks I belong to (if you’re not already one of the 68 000 people that follow our Pinterest board, you certainly should be!)  We have loads of mint growing in our backyard, so I took a bunch of the suggestions, mashed them together and created this fresh mint soup station for Miss G to explore.

IMG 0428To start out, I set out a big bunch of fresh mint, a pair of Gracen’s scissors, and few plastic bowls and spoons.  Grae began smelling and cutting and ripping the mint and the amazing scent of fresh mint filled our house.  She dished out bowls of ‘salad’ and delivered them to us as we worked.

IMG 0438Before long, I sensed that something would have to be added to the mix in order to keep Grae engaged in her play, so I grabbed a small container of green glitter and a jug filled with water and a couple drops of green food colouring and quietly added them to the bin.  (Slowly adding elements to sensory bins as play progresses is one of my favourite tips for keeping munchkins engaged in their play.)

IMG 0430In no time at all, bowls of sparkly green soup were rolling out of Gracen’s fresh mint kitchen.

IMG 0437Looks delicious, right?

IMG 0454This was such a simple set-up, but Grae enjoyed it so much that I just tidied it up to make it look inviting again, and I’m leaving it out overnight for Miss G to enjoy again tomorrow. We’ll see how the mint lasts!

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iPhoneography // Simple Rice Tray Play

Simple Rice Tray Play | Mama Papa BubbaThis morning I had a little bit of housework to do and Miss G suggested that she’d play with some freshly coloured rice I’d made while I got my clean on.  It’d been a quite a while since she’d last opted to play with a rice bin or tray, so I was happy to hear that she was still excited about such a simple sensory activity.  While I put the rice into small containers, she picked out items she wanted to use while playing with it.  She gathered up a divided plate,  heart-shaped ice cube tray,  cup, scoop, bowl, and funnel and we laid everything down on a large blanket in the living room.

Photo copy 2She got to playing right away and immediately mixed the different colours in the bowl while using the funnel.  Watching the individual colours mix into speckled sea of rainbow colours is always so much fun (and so is crazy bed head ☺).

Photo copyThere was a lot of mixing, dumping, and pouring, but the favourite of the morning was definitely this little scoop paired with the funnel.  She quickly learned that using the two together was a great way to fill the little heart-shaped ice moulds and we later on we even experimented with extending our funnel using a bubble tea straw.  

After she was through playing, we scooped up the rice, added it to the bin of coloured rice we keep in the solarium, and shook the remaining grains off of the blanket outside.  Easy, simple fun.   

To see how we make our coloured rice, click here.


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Pretend Popsicle Play

Pretend Popsicle Play With Gelatine Pops | Mama Papa BubbaKnowing Grae’s love of popsicles, my mom sent her home from the Okanagan with a couple of new popsicle mould sets the other day.  While I knew she’d be excited, what I wasn’t expecting was for two new popsicle moulds to keep her happily playing in her rear-facing car seat for at least 1/2 of our 7 hour drive home.  She was so engaged with them that Brad actually said, “Well I know what we need to bring on the plane to Kuwait.” (If you’re travelling through Germany in August and see a woman with popsicle mould parts clumsily falling out of her purse, that’ll be me.)

IMG 8103When we got home and I started thinking about fun play opportunities for the week, I thought it would be fun to try to set up a popsicle-themed pretend play station.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was making the pretend pops out of ice, but I wanted something a little different.  Enter gelatine. With a fun texture that can be jiggled, squished, and crumbled, I knew it would be a hit.  

To make the pops quite sturdy, I mixed up 3 packets of Knox unflavoured gelatine with 3/4 of a cup of boiling water, then added 3/4 of a cup of cool water once the gelatine had been dissolved.  I popped a few drops of liquid food colouring into each of my popsicle cups, poured the gelatine mixture in, mixed it up, and put the faux popsicles in the refrigerator over night. 

IMG 8105This morning while we were preparing breakfast together, Miss G immediately noticed the rainbow coloured popsicles in the fridge and asked if they were for playing with.  Let me tell you, this girl doesn’t miss a thing.  She patiently waited until after our morning outing, lunchtime, and her nap, and I had this little set up ready ready for her when she woke up.

IMG 8112She was delighted to see it and immediately asked, “Are these just for playing, Mama? Or are they for eating?”  With the fact that they were for playing with cleared up, she began naming the flavours – my favourite of which was tomato soup (the red one).  Then she began doling out the treats in bowls with spoons, as she often likes her popsicles.

IMG 8113Next up, all of the popsicles went back into their moulds and got put into her pretend freezer.  Then she took them out, one by one (with the help of a spoon and some serious shaking) as though she were filling customer orders.

IMG 8116For the customers who preferred to eat their frozen treats from a bowl rather than a stick, she happily crumbled the popsicles up.  As you do.

IMG 8119There was lots of play with the popsicles in their smushed up state…

IMG 8123Then she moved onto making rainbow pops.  Because I mean, who wants only one flavour when you can have several, right?

IMG 8127And then there was soup. Oh, was there ever.  Soup stirred so enthusiastically that bits flew out of the bowl and landed in various spots around our living room. 

IMG 8132I’d say pretend popsicles were a hit, wouldn’t you?  A colourful, messy, joyful hit.


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Ooblek Dough

Oobleck Dough | Mama Papa BubbaHave you every come home from a shopping trip with surprise item in your bags?  That’s exactly what happened with this hair gel…  I do not use hair gel. Brad does not use hair gel.  No one in our house uses hair gel.  Yet after returning home from a grocery shopping trip with Miss G a few weeks ago, there it was in one of our bags.  My immediate thought was, ‘Crap!  Did we accidentally steal this?!’  I checked the bill and nope, we’d paid for it.  How it got through the checkout and into our bags, I have no idea.  

IMG 9880Anyways, knowing that we wouldn’t be using it in our hair anytime soon, I decided we’d use it for some sort of play.  And when nothing brilliant had come to mind in a few week’s time, I decided that we’d mix it with cornstarch.  Because cornstarch mixed with any sort of liquid = cool, right?

IMG 9889It took some serious mixing to bring the ingredients together first, then it took some serious kneading to smooth it out and soften it up.  The result, however, was quite lovely.  Pillowy soft and lightweight, this dough behaves a lot like ooblek does.  When handled gently and moved slowly, it’s stretchy and elastic, and when handled more abruptly, it breaks off in chunks.

IMG 9892Gracen wanted to play with it immediately, so together we collected some bowls, silicon moulds, and plastic utensils and brought everything outside to play with.

IMG 9893She began exploring her new dough  by sinking her hands into it, squishing it between her fingers, and poking holes into it…

IMG 9907Then it was time to fill all of the containers with “oatmeal”.

IMG 9909With a good breakfast in our tummies, it was time for dessert. ☺  The dough rolls into balls really nicely, so Miss G turned our ball collection into cupcakes with cherries on top.

IMG 9930When we were done with our first round of dessert, Gracen shouted, “Cookies next!” and took off into the house running.  She returned with a tray of creative table goodies – buttons, pony beads, straw pieces, gems, and sparkly pompoms.  I was put in charge of forming the cookies and she was in charge of decorating.

IMG 9919To show that we had eaten the cookies all up, Miss G crumbled them all into a bowl.  

IMG 9922The cool part was that as soon as she was done, the crumbles had already started melting together to form one mass. 

This was such a fun new dough to explore and play with.  One thing we did notice is that after being played with for an hour, it had dried quite a bit.  It definitely can be played with again, but this is not the type of dough you’ll want to leave out for very long when not in use.

Oobleck Dough

  • 1 cup hair gel
  • 1/2 cup water
  • food colouring (optional)
  • 2 cups corn starch

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Add in the cornstarch and mix really well.  Once the dough comes together in a mass, knead until smooth and soft.  



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Duck Pond Sensory Bin

Duck Pond Sensory Bin | Mama Papa BubbaOn the way home with a photo shoot with Amy of The Connection We Share (photos to come soon!) today, Gracen asked if we could build a duck pond.  I’m not sure where how or why this request came about, but I was as game as she was.

IMG 7960It’s been a while since we’ve put together a new sensory bin and what I loved this time around was that instead of me putting something together for her to explore and investigate, we created this one together.  Very similar to a frog pond sensory bin we’ve played with before, this one included glass beads in blues and greens, rocks, driftwood, some flowered branches from the yard, and a couple of toy ducks we already had on hand.

IMG 7962In order to make it outdoor-friendly, the pond’s water was nice and warm.

IMG 7970So warm apparently that Miss G didn’t mind getting her entire body soaking wet.

IMG 7966Grae played for a little while before moving onto more exciting things with Grandma Charlotte, but I know she’ll get lots more play out of it once the excitement level gets back to normal around here.

You can see Gracen’s oceanicerainbow rice, beach, watergardeningmoon doughconstructionand bird-themed bins by clicking on the links.


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Sparkly Foam Sensory Tray

Sparkly Foam Sensory TrayDo you ever set up an activity that you think will be a total hit and it just kind of flops?  Or if it doesn’t flop, it just doesn’t take off the way you thought it would?  That was the case with this sensory tray.

IMG 6230After a Sunday morning adventure and a good afternoon nap, we decided to hit the backyard.  Brad and I wanted to get some yard work done, so I decided to set up a sensory station for Grae to explore in between searching for rocks, running around, and helping with the yard work.

IMG 6231I kept it very simple and  filled a tray with raspberry-scented shaving foam, sprinkled glitter on top of it, and set out a warm bucket of water with a hand towel.

IMG 6234Grae dove in.

IMG 6235She definitely had fun mixing up the different colours of glitter and squishing the foam between her fingers…

IMG 6241And she even thought it was funny that it stuck to her hands at first, but after a while, the fact that she couldn’t properly clean the foam off of her hands and arms, even with the bucket of water and towel, started to bother her.

IMG 6238She decided to gather some sandbox tools and played for a while longer, but the activity never really took off the way I thought it would.  In the end, there was a giant tray of semi-played with foam just left there and she was done.

IMG 6244If anything, this was a great way to get messy. ☺

I guess all activities can’t be a total hit, can they?


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Valentine’s Slime Sensory Tray

Valentine s Day Slime Sensory TrayAfter putting together our ‘Will you be my Valen-slime?’ favours this afternoon, Miss G and I got out a few things and put together a really simple Valentine-themed slime sensory tray.

IMG 5176Slime is just one of those things that never gets old.  Miss G’s spent quite a lot of time playing with it in the past, but was every bit as thrilled to play with it again today.

IMG 5180Her favourite part of today’s set up was definitely the heart-shaped cookie cutters.  She’d imprint a bunch of hearts, watch them slowly melt away, and then loudly exclaim, “MAMA!  THEY DISAPPEARED!!” before making more.

IMG 5186My favourite part was that because this batch turned out just a tad firmer than our last, there was zero mess.  It didn’t stick to her hands, it didn’t goop up the bowls and kitchen utensils, and it didn’t cling to her clothes.  (A seemingly messy activity sans the mess = win!)

IMG 5184We left this out for most of the afternoon and evening, and Miss G came back to it again and again before it finally had to be sealed up just before dinner.  But before that happened, she wanted a guarantee that her tray and container of slime would be left out and ready for her to enjoy first thing the next morning.  

IMG 5193


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Ice Cream Shop {Using Ice Cream Dough}

Ice Cream Shop with Ice Cream DoughAfter making a few batches of ice cream dough this afternoon, Gracen and I set up a simple little ice cream shop in the living room.  We used an old wooden apple crate for her table top and made sure the floor was protected with a large bath towel.

IMG 5074Then we went around the house to collect a few other items.  First up – ice cream cones.  Yes, the real ones…  We had them on hand from her 2nd birthday party and they’d never be used otherwise, so may as well use them for some fun pretend play, right?

IMG 5075Of course, for customers not partial to cones, you need to have a bowl option.  These silicon baking cups did the job perfectly.

IMG 5076Next, we gathered up some spoons and an ice cream scoop…

IMG 5073As well as some buttons, beads, and straw pieces for candies and candy sprinkles. 

IMG 5082And with that, our little ice cream shop owner got to work.

IMG 5093IMG 5091There was plenty of scooping, touching, smelling, and exploring to be done.

IMG 5084Of course the ice cream treats rolled out of the shop one after another too.  A hazelnut ice cream cone for Papa…

IMG 5099And a strawberry ice cream cup {with extra candy sprinkles!} for Mama.

IMG 5088This was such a simple set-up, but I can already tell that she’s going to get hours of fun out of it.  Of course, it’s more than just fun…  This little ice cream shop incorporates pretend play, a sensory experience, and creativity too.

IMG 5090


To see our other ice cream shop using play dough, click here.

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{AMAZING} Ice Cream Dough

Ice Cream DoughThis afternoon Gracen and I tried out a new sensory material originally created by Jessie of Play Create Explore (if you’re a parent and haven’t checked out her blog before, you definitely should – she’s got hundreds of sensory play ideas, fun bath ideas, and tons more) and it was AWESOME.

IMG 5062The ingredients seem a little strange, but they work perfectly together to create a hard ice cream-looking texture.  The main two ingredients are cornstarch and conditioner – yes, hair conditioner – the cheapest variety you can find.   The other stuff is just food colouring and cheap imitation extracts to make it look and smell more like real ice cream.

IMG 5063We decided on making 3 ‘flavours’ (coconut, strawberry, and hazelnut), Gracen started us off by putting an equal amount of conditioner in 3 bowls.

IMG 5065Then she added our food colouring – none for coconut, red for strawberry, and a combination of red, green, and yellow for the hazelnut.

IMG 5067Then she added a generous pour of extract into each of the bowls…

IMG 5068And mixed them up.

IMG 5069One thing I will say is that we should have spend a little more time looking for an unscented {or at least a very lightly scented} conditioner.  At $1.28, the price was certainly right, but the strong ‘fresh’ scent gave our imitation extracts a serious run for their money.  Even something food scented would have been better…  Next time we’ll look for something of the strawberry / coconut / mango variety.

IMG 5070Next up was the messy part…  Mixing the cornstarch into the conditioner mixture.

IMG 5078After gently folding and blending the cornstarch and conditioner together, this was the end result.

IMG 5080Isn’t it crazy how much it looks like REAL hard ice cream?!

IMG 5081Here’s a close up view.

IMG 5098And as long as it’s handled like hard ice cream usually is (not rolled or smoothed over too much – thanks for the tip, Jessie!), it scoops perfectly – just as ice cream does. ☺


We followed Play Create Explore‘s ratios exactly, so please visit the original post here.  The amounts we used for these batches, along with details on the colouring and extracts are as follows:

Coconut Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of imitation coconut extract


Strawberry Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

6 drops of red food colouring

1 tablespoon of imitation strawberry extract


Hazelnut Ice Cream Dough

1/2 cup of cheap hair conditioner

1 cup of cornstarch

4 drops of red food colouring

4 drops of green food colouring

12 drops of yellow food colouring

1 tablespoon of imitation hazelnut extract




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