As an early years educator and mother to two little people myself, I’m a very big advocate for Sensory Play! As children play, they explore the world around them and build a solid foundation of scientific understanding which will grow with them through their schooling years. Today I’d like to share five simple sensory play trays for babies and toddlers using items you can find at the grocery store and around your home!
Stone and Water Tray
Babies looooove splashing in water, so this is a wonderfully simple tray perfect for babies that are sitting independently and confidently. All you need are some large, smooth river stones, a tub and some water. We found ours at the beach! To make sure the stones aren’t choking hazards, place them inside a toilet roll. If they fit, they are too small. Place a few stones into the tray and fill with a few centimetres of water. Pop a blanket down and your tray is ready to go! My little boy is 7 months old and loves whacking the stones together to make music!
Coloured Water and Ice Tray
Children are so curious about colours and how they mix together, so you can foster this with a colour mixing ice and water tray! Simply choose two primary colours that will mix together to make a new colour – I decided on blue and red. I used some large ice cube trays and mixed up some blue food dye and water. I poured it into the moulds and let them freeze overnight. The following day, I mixed some red food dye and water together and poured that straight into the tray. I added the blue ice cubes in a bowl and set them out for my toddler to explore. She was fascinated by the water slowly changing colour as the ice cubes melted! This is such a wonderful activity for hot Summer days!
Edible Water Beads
Water beads are so popular these days, but they can pose as a choking hazard to little people. You can make your own water beads using Tapioca Pearls which you can find in the dessert aisle at your local supermarket. To get mine ready for my children, I soaked them in some cold water which I dyed with blue food dye. I let them sit for about 15 minutes before draining and pouring them into my tray. Your Little Learner will love squishing the little beads together…and if they eat some, it’s not the end of the world!
Wibbly, Wobbly Jelly
So this one is going to be hard for you not to get involved in because who doesn’t love jelly?! You’ll need to make your jelly about 4 hours ahead of time (as per the instructions on the packet). Once set, roughly slice it up and put it onto your tray. Your Little Learner will love squeezing, tasting and smelling the jelly! To add an extra element of fun, you can also put little plastic animals into the jelly depending on the age of your children.
This is a really simple recipe which fantastic for toddlers! Simply mix 8 cups of plain flour to 1 cup of canola oil and you’re done! The dough looks nice and fluffy but it’s also very easily moldable. Put it in a tray with some containers and you have the perfect activity which is sure to amuse your Little Learners for quite some time!
As you can see, sensory Play can be as simple as adding some items from your own pantry to a tray with very little set up or pre-planning required. I hope you found some wonderful new sensory play ideas to try with your Little Learners!
Please note that as with all sensory play experiences, close supervision is a must. Please don’t ever leave your child unsupervised even for a second.
Casey from Little Lifelong Learners provides passionate early years educators with engaging, hands-on resources and activities for their Little Learners. She is a BIG fan of sensory play, especially for babies and toddlers and loves to share fun ideas for play over on Instagram and in her Play Ideas for Little Learners facebook group. For more sensory play ideas, be sure to head on over to Casey’s website and check out her brand new eBook – Sensory Play for your Little Learners!