CREATING A SENSORY PLAY SHELF
As both parents and educators, sensory play experiences have always been a core component in our learning programs for young children. Not only are they highly engaging, they also provide endless opportunities for exploration, motor and language development, hypothesising, investigating and building brain pathways through the activation of many senses at once. And most of all, they are oh so fun!
Below is a list of resources that you may find useful when setting up a sensory play experience in your own home or classroom environment. The top items are the core pieces that will be sought out and used, time and time again. Many can be purchased inexpensively from thrift stores and some may already be hiding in your kitchen cupboard! We've found having both a large plastic tub for liquid-based experiences, as well as a wooden tray for dry explorations, to be a completely invaluable. This is the water tray we have (linked here), and our wooden tray (linked here) will be back in stock soon.
The lists following are divided into two columns - one giving ideas for base textures (which can be presented in unison with some of the staple items) and the second includes exciting 'extras' that you may like to add to encourage further exploration.
Also check out our sensory and loose parts play tab, which contains many useful resources.
- 2 cups of plain flour
- 1 cup of salt
- 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 2 cups of boiling water
Add all dry ingredients to a bowl, and then wet ingredients. Stir and then knead well. Add more flour if the mixture is too sticky or add more oil if too dry.
Store dough in the fridge in an air tight container or wrap tightly in a beeswax wrap for it to last approximately 2-3 months (depending on usage).
Colours or scents are optional, but may include cacao, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, paprika, beetroot, red cabbage, onion skins, blue berries, rosemary, flower petals, lavender, bio glitter, child-safe food colouring, essential oils etc. however, be mindful of little ones potentially taste testing!
If using a natural dye option, colour must be extracted by boiling in water first (eg. beetroot can be boiled in 2 and a half cups of water, and once the colour is extracted to your desired level, 2 cups of the coloured boiling water can be used in your dough batch).
SAND PLAY DOUGH
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 3 cups of sand
- 1/2 a cup of salt
- 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 1 and 3/4 cups of boiling water
Add all dry ingredients, and then wet ingredients. Stir and then knead well. Add more flour if the mixture is too sticky or gradually add more water if too dry.
Store dough in the fridge in an air tight container or wrap tightly in a beeswax wrap.
- walnuts halved, with nut removed
- fabric remnants (or you can use leaves)
- small twigs
- craft glue
- Blu tak or plasticine
- an egg carton
- metal bowl
- small pouring cup
1. Cut the small swatches of fabric into diamond shapes. Fold over the top of the twig to form a triangular shaped sail and glue the sides together.
2. Prepare the walnut halves by placing them, hollow-side up, in the egg carton. This is to keep them stable when pouring the wax in step four. Add the twig sails to the centre, forming a mast. Secure them in place with a small ball of Blu Tak or plasticine on the bottom.
3. Boil a saucepan of water on the stovetop and turn the heat down once simmering. Place the metal bowl on top and melt the wax inside, ensuring no water enters the bowl. Never leave the wax unattended as it can heat quite quickly.
4. Once the wax is melted, carefully transfer it into the small spouted cup and immediately pour into the walnut shells. The wax begins to solidify very rapidly, so this step needs to happen quite quickly.
5. Leave wax to set for approximately half an hour and then set sail! Perhaps in the bathtub, a container, a puddle or a creek.
- wooden peg dolls
- felt scraps
- a small amount of wool roving (optional)
- acorn caps
- leaves (optional)
- hot glue gun
1. Measure your peg doll and cut out a felt cloak to drape around their body. Secure with a piece of wool threaded through the top, tied in a knot or bow or alternately, attach the cloak with glue.
2. Use the wool roving to form hair for your little sprite (or you could simply use regular wool for a different look). If making more than one, try creating various hairstyles to give the dolls their own individual style.
3. Attach the hair using the hot glue and add an acorn cap for a little woody hat.
4. Leaves can be added to the doll's back to create fairy wings, if desired.
5. Present in a flower garden, by a tree, amongst some ivy, on a woodpile, in a potted plant or wherever your imagination leads. Enchanted play scenes can be easily created by adding tiny buckets, branches, tea sets, wood rounds, seed pods, gemstones, acorns and play silks.