Tag Archives: sensory tray

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.  

Play!

♥ 

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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.  

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♥ 

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Candy Cane Epsom Salt Sensory Play

Candy Cane Epsom Salt Sensory TrayLast night, I sliced my finger open {after my very favourite ever vintage mixing bowl fell from our infamous mountain of clean, drying dishes and shattered all over the floor *sob*}.  As I shuffled through our catch-all closet to retrieve the first aid kit, I stumbled upon a giant bag of forgotten about epsom salt.  And that’s how this random little sensory activity began. ☺

IMG 3195Having used regular salt {on trays} for drawing and letter printing practice in my classroom many times before, I knew that epsom salt would be just as fun.  But to amp it up a little and make it more festive, we decided to turn out plain old epsom salt into the candy cane variety with a little peppermint extract and food colouring.

IMG 3198Of course my little helper did most of the work.  

To get started, we measured out a couple of cups of epsom salt into a zip-close bag (you could easily use a jar instead – it just requires a little more shaking power).

IMG 3205Then we added a spoonful of peppermint extract.  And because this was the white batch, zipped up the bag tightly…

IMG 3203And shook it up.

IMG 3216We repeated the process twice more, this time adding food colouring into the mix.  The end result was a tray of minty fresh, candy cane-coloured epsom salt just begging for little hands to play with it.

IMG 3217I gathered up a few spoons and some silicon muffin cups, and Miss G retrieved some Christmas cookie cutters.

IMG 3221Then she got to playing.

IMG 3227First up was making “pucktakes” (cupcakes according to our silly little girl).

IMG 3232Of course pucktakes need candies and cherries on top, so off she went to collect some buttons.

IMG 3234This simple little sensory station kept her happily engaged while I made dinner and washed a big load of dishes, plus our whole kitchen smelled deliciously of peppermint.

IMG 3237And the fun didn’t stop there… When bath time rolled around, Miss G picked her very favourite epsom salt cupcake to take along with her.

(The really neat part is that if you let the salt sit in the silicon cups overnight, they harden and become little pucks that are easily portable to and from the bathtub.)

Candy Cane Epsom Salt
  • 2 cups of epsom salt
  • 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 4 – 7 drops of food colouring
 
Put all of the ingredients into a bag or jar and shake until fully blended. Play!
 

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Playing with Oobleck

Playing with OobleckToday Miss G and I tried making and playing with the ridiculously fun {and equally messy} substance called Oobleck.  It’s made out of only 2 ingredients (or 3 if you want to add a little colour), and it isn’t quite a liquid and it isn’t really a solid…  In fact, it behaves like both. 

While teaching in Kuwait, my team members and I always made Oobleck with our first grade classes during our solids, liquids, and gasses unit and it was definitely one of the favourite lessons.  Today, Grae enjoyed it just as much as my 6 and 7 year old students did, so this is definitely something that can be done with children of all ages.

IMG 2043All you need in order to make Oobleck is water and cornstarch, plus food colouring if you wish.

IMG 2047I like to start by adding the colouring to the water first because it’s a lot easier to stir colouring into water than into the finished Oobleck.

IMG 2050Plus, this way you get to watch the colouring disperse into the water, which is always kind of neat.

IMG 2052Start by giving your water a little stir to make sure the colouring is evenly dispersed.

IMG 2055Then add your cornstarch a cup at a time, stirring it into the water as you go.

IMG 2058When the mixture is nice and thick and you’re not able to pour off any excess water, your Oobleck is ready.

Now go ahead and play!  Watch what happens when you touch the Oobleck quickly with a lot of pressure, versus when you touch it slowly and gently.  

IMG 2060IMG 2062IMG 2064IMG 2067

Be prepared to get messy – it’s more fun that way!  Putting a towel or tray under the bowl of Oobleck should catch most of the spills, and since Oobleck is best played with with hands, you won’t be left with a sink full of dishes afterwards.  ☺

Here are a couple of quick iPhone videos I managed to take of us playing with our Oobleck…

Oobleck

  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 cups of cornstarch
  • 1 or 2 drops of food colouring

Start by colouring the water with food colouring.  Add the cornstarch a cup at a time, stirring in between additions.  The Oobleck is ready when the mixture is thick and excess water cannot by poured off.

(Many recipes on the internet will say that for 1 cup of water you should only need between 1 and 2 cups of cornstarch, but my experience has been that the 1:3 ratio works out perfectly every time.  My suggestion is to add slowly after the second cup and see what works best for you.)

Enjoy!

To learn more about Oobleck, click here.  To see where Oobleck got its silly-sounding name, click here.

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Pumpkin Seed Sorting

Pumpkin Seed Sorting TrayThis little activity just came about organically.  Gracen and I were scooping out the insides of a pumpkin and she began collecting all of the seeds and carefully placing them in a neat pile off to the side. 

IMG 1515A couple of bowls, some “tools”, and a tray later, and she had herself her very own sorting station.

IMG 1519Though she could have collected the seeds much more quickly using her hands, she really liked the challenge of getting underneath the slippery little seeds and scooping them up into her spoons.  Great sensory play and fine motor skill development all in one {totally unplanned} activity? Yes please.

IMG 1521She even took the fun one step further and sampled a raw, goop-covered seed.  She slowly nodded her head and said, “Mmmmm… Yummy”, but her little scrunched nose and furrowed brow told me she felt otherwise. ☺

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Slime Sensory Station

After making each of her little dance class friends a mini mason jar filled with pink sparkly slime, plus giving out another 40 slime packets at Strong Start this morning, Gracen was excited to get her hands on a batch or two of her own. So today, between the Halloween festivities, we carved out some time in the afternoon to set up a very simple little slime station.  

Slime Sensory Station

Here’s how we set up the station… Slime in three colours, a handful of small containers, a strainer spoon, a sand sifting shovel, plastic cutlery, some bowls all on a plastic tray.

Gracen quickly settled on the blanket next to her tray and began exploring.  She wasn’t so sure about really diving in at first, but before too long she was picking up full batches of slime at a time and watching them slip and stretch out of her hands.

IMG 1287IMG 1294IMG 1297IMG 1301IMG 1306IMG 1296IMG 1321IMG 1324IMG 1327IMG 1339IMG 1344What I like so much about this sort of slime (besides how cool it is to play with), is that despite the fact that it looks like it can get pretty messy, it’s very easy to tidy.  Because it acts more like a solid when removed from little people, dishes, and blankets, it just kind of clumps up and comes away clean.  Plus, it doesn’t stain skin and it washes off of clothes and blankets without any effort.  Messy play being easy to tidy? A definite win in my books.

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