Thursday, July 18, 2013

Swamp Sensory Bin

What is the perfect swampy material? For us, it's vanilla pudding. But, we have successfully created swamp habitats using dyed green ivory soap and toilet paper, Jell-O, wet playdough, coloured green tapioca pearls and spaghetti (the bin was half full of water), and green oobleck (cornstarch and water). Oobleck is easily our second favourite material for our swamp habitat and it's only second because it's not tasty to lick off of fingers.

For today's swamp habitat, we are using vanilla pudding. You don't need to use a lot of food colouring to make it green, but I guess it will depend on how light or dark you want the swamp to be. Just remember that food colouring DOES dye skin and clothes, so don't add too much if that is something you are afraid of. For one package, we used 4 drops of food colouring.

For this edible sensory bin, I added green vanilla pudding and let it set in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes. In the meantime I cut dried seaweed into lily pad shapes for the frogs and gathered up some cinnamon sticks (branches, drift wood, dead trees, etc.) and Nilla wafers (tree stumps or rocks). Ok, the cinnamon sticks are not very edible, but they smell lovely and I knew the kids would use them like spoons (which they did). And we added some granola to be a small patch of dry land.

Swamps are full of tons of interesting creatures, from alligators, to nippy insects, to fish. But today we kept it simple and stuck to our favourite swamp inhabitants: snakes, lizards and frogs. And this was a perfect habitat to welcome our new little guys (a gift from Grammy).

J was here for this activity and at first she was a bit.. grossed out? She had never experienced sensory play before I started babysitting her. But it turns out she loves it. Not too long after she was squishing the pudding in her hands to make yucky sounds and, after seeing Bean do it, she copied and painted her own arms (after I had stopped taking pictures). She claimed she was a swamp witch.

Bean really loves the texture of pudding. She kept dipping her hands in it. When she was younger, she could not handle a texture like this. She hated anything wet or sticky or slimy. Which is why sensory play is so essential for young kids. Little by little we introduced her to different textures, starting off in small bowls so she could explore them at her own pace. And now, years later, she is perfectly fine with them and really enjoys them. Munchkin loved sensory play from the start.

Of course, all the kids had to taste the swamp goop.

And fair warning, this kind of sensory bin is MESSY! Unless you have children who like to keep everything tidy and inside the bin, in which case I am completely jealous. :) My kids painted themselves in pudding and needed a bath afterwards. Although in Munchkin's case, most of the pudding he touched went straight to his stomach.

This was a really fun sensory experience for them all! Our next post about swamps will be made from oobleck (which is SO perfect for swamps) and then we can go over what we learned about swamp habitats.

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Please always supervise your children while playing and never leave them unattended.

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