Monday, February 17, 2014

Rose Scented Sensory Salt

Making sensory salt is really easy. Essentially all you need is salt. But you can add scents, colours, herbs, spices or flowers to add more to the sensory experience. We love making sensory salts to fit with our current theme (example: seasons - orange spice in autumn, gingerbread in winter, orange blossom in spring, lemonade in summer, etc). This past week we have been enjoying the scent of roses, since daddy came home with an adorable potted pink parade rose on Valentine's Day! We were inspired and knew we had to make a rose scented salt tray!

We had rosewater left over from our rose scented play dough, so I decided to use that instead of rose oil. Typically we use essential oils for our salt trays, because only a little is needed to scent the entire batch. Keep in mind that rosewater will moisten the salt and it may take a day or two to dry out the salt. We added about 1/8th of a cup of rosewater to a 26 oz container of table salt and it took two days to completely dry out. It did clump in a few places, but these were quickly smothered by the kids. And if you don't have rosewater on hand (we bought ours at the grocery store), but you do have roses available, you can make your own! All you have to do is pour boiling water over rose petals and strain when the water is cooled (the ratio is 1 part rose petals to 2 parts water). 

You'll need: 
salt - you can use table salt, sea salt or Epsom salt. 
liquid or gel food colouring or liquid watercolours
rosewater - homemade or store bought

I poured the package of table salt into a bowl.

Then I poured the remainder of the rosewater into a cup and mixed in some magenta food colouring gel. I didn't know how bright it would be, so I added plenty. I stirred it up before pouring it into the salt.

Then I mixed the pink rosewater mixture into the salt until it was thoroughly combined.

It was the perfect shade of pink that we wanted! I checked the salt and felt that it was too moist to play with at the moment, so I left it on the table for two days and just stirred it every time I walked by.

When it was completely dry I divided up the batch (storing half in a ziploc for later) and poured the rest into a round tray that we use for sensory activities like this. The tray is wide and shallow, which we find is the perfect combination for salt trays. I also gave the kids a chopstick each. After using various objects to trace and draw in salt trays, we finally tried chopsticks and they work great!

The tray has a layer of salt that is about 1/4th inch thick. This amount allows the chopstick to draw through it and leave an exposed white bottom of the tray visible so they can see their drawings. Though that is not always necessary for salt trays. We use this amount when we are practicing tracing letters, numbers and shapes. But when we are just using the salt for drawing and for fun sensory play, we will use a thicker layer of salt.

Sensory salts really are fantastic and can be used for all sorts of activities! You can use them to practice tracing letters, numbers and shapes, or for writing in general if the child is older. You can draw in the salt, create amazing designs using flowers, herbs or spices, or even small worlds for sensory play! You can use sensory salt for fine motor play, like scooping and pouring or with small rakes to create a salt garden. The uses for sensory salt are endless! I often ask the kids how they want to use the salt and it is really interesting when we try out their suggestions. 

Attempting to draw the Avengers A logo. :)

Testing out the "sketch and shake" tray by shaking it gently to smooth out the drawing.

She LOVED how bright pink the salt was! We have not made a salt tray that was this bright before. Most our our salt trays in the past have had natural colour tones. The only one we added colour to was the lemonade one we made last summer, but the yellow hadn't been very bright. We will certainly continue to use Wilton gels as they produce especially bright colours!

She is drawing her version of the Milky Way. :)

You can store your sensory salt in a ziploc bag or a plastic container for future use. It will keep for several months if it is kept dry and clean. 

Here are a few updated pictures from the week after we made it. It's so much fun to play in!

Add in a couple construction trucks and create a salty dig site! 

Add in some cars and drive them around! Or bury them in pink salt. :)

Write a letter in the salt and use cars to outline them!

Practice tracing letters, numbers and shapes!

Wolverine came over to help the kids find some letters.

He knew exactly which letter was G. :)

Or use his claws to trace letters in the salt.

Captain America looks so confused...

Munchkin literally spends at least an hour every day playing in the sensory salt. :)

You can even use it to play tic-tac-toe!

Or throw in a few toys for scooping and pouring fun. :)

Please note that sensory activities such as this one is not suitable for all children. If your child(ren) are still putting things in their mouth, I would not suggest trying this activity with them. Not all essential oils or salts are meant to be ingested. Please use your own judgement when creating a sensory salt activity for your child(ren). 

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