Tag: “sensory play”

5 Ways to Play with Salt – Creating Art with Salt

5 Ways to Play with Salt – Creating Art with Salt

Remember the old age saying, “don’t play with your food”? Well here I am encouraging you to get messy with your kids. It is the most fabulous base for a number of activities, but we have picked our top 5.

Lets start with making your own coloured salt/”sand”, it couldn’t be easier. In fact, you could even make that an activity in itself!

How to make coloured sand

There are two ways – the first takes a little longer but is really fun to get the kids involved. That’s using chalk. Take a sheet of card and place it on a baking tray. Pour some fine salt over the card, and rub the chalk through the salt, grinding it up. As it mixes with the salts the colour will transfer, and you will end up making a pretty picture on the sheet of card as well.

The other way takes about 5 minutes of prep time. Pour salt into some glad seal bags . Pour some food colouring or paint into the bags and mix, mix, mix. Pour the coloured salt onto a tray to dry.

Sensory Play with Salt

The options are truly endless here, and we have only just started exploring ways to play with salt. It makes the most incredible base for sensory play and we have used it often in our mini world play.

Watercolour raised salt painting.

This is a great Science based activity for kinds, allowing them to see how colour spreads through the salt. Do it with plain uncoloured salt for maximum effect. You can do this with salt rocks/sea salt as well as fine iodized salt. Draw a pattern with glue onto some card and pour the salt onto the glue and let it dry. Taking some watercolours, or a dropper/pipette and dab it onto the dried crystals. Watch as the colour spreads!

Salt Tray Writing

This is a great activity for older kids to practise their writing skills, and younger kids to learn cause and effect. Its literally like “writing in the sand”. It’s great for encouraging creativity and is actually a proven “calm down” method. Who doesn’t love a “zen garden”? Use a paint brush to practise pincer grip or simply let the kids use their fingers to trace in the sand.

Coloured Salt Jars

This is a fabulous activity for concentration and these little jars make perfect DIY gifts. Simply fill any small clear jar with different coloured sand. I love the contrast of using plain white between. It gets the kids scooping, funnelling and they will be amazed by the different layers once its complete. You can also turn these into the most incredible candles, but that’s a different blog post all together.

Coloured Salt Painting.

Similar to raised salt painting, but using coloured salt from the beginning. You can create the most glorious art pictures. We tried to do some Rangoli art (not very successfully), but I used it as a lesson to teach the kids about the Diwali festival. I’m definitely going to use this in our Ramadan art this year.

Create your own bath salts.

We have been making our own bath salts for a while and recently I’ve been experimenting more with adding essential oils into them. An easy recipe is as follows, you can choose to add in an essential oils if you wish:

  • 1 1/2 cup of Epsom Salts
  • 1/2 cup of Sea Salt
  • 1/3 cup baking soda

So there you have it! 5 ways to “play” with your salt ! Have you tried any other ways to incorporate salt into your sensory play or art? I’d love to see your works of art, if you are on Instagram, please tag me at @inthesestilettos !

Small World Play – Aussie Outback

Small World Play – Aussie Outback

It’s no secret we are pretty big fans of small world play in our house. One look at my Instagram page and you’ll see a number of different “mini worlds”. They fuel mamas need for creativity and they meet the boys needs to play, make a mess and learn 🙂

Whether its styled more as a sensory tray set up, or a more structured mini world, I always try to tie in a little story or learning to it, and you would be surprised by how much knowledge kids absorb while “playing”. We have done a number of themes over the years including Pirates, The lifecycle of a frog, farmyard play with chocolate mud, swamp life, the Artic, and Dinosaur land .

Small world play allows children to act out scenarios (scenes from real life, stories they have heard and/or from their imagination) in a “mini world” created with small figures and objects from around the house. I’ve seen my kids start slowly first we learn about the “theme”, and then I stand back and give them space to play. Once they tucked into this Aussie Outback for example, they soon became “adventurers” and “zoo keepers”, they played for about an our and eventually the playdough “Uluru” rock was cut up and became “lion food”. They are the ideal platform for nurturing children’s imagination from a young age. This play provides them with an opportunity to explore new materials, act out scenarios from real life and gain an understanding of the world. Small world play is often used in play therapy as well by providing children with opportunities to re-enact certain experiences, you are helping then to reflect on feelings and events in life, in a safe “world”.

So how do you start?

Choose your theme – I often will base a theme on the time of year or an important event, or if I have recently bought a really cool figurine set 🙂 next decide on your base layer – whether its artificial grass, felt, rice, gloop or sand start by “laying the foundation”.

Select Accent Features – bits and bobs from around the house or garden that could tie into your theme.

Add your characters – lastly add in your “main act”, your characters or figurines. I then call in the kids and before I “let them loose” I explain what the “world” is, and all the different characters. I’ll often sit with them for about 5 minutes to describe or explain anything, and then its free reign 🙂

For the Aussie outback; I first made up some easy cloud dough and added in a bit of cinnamon to make it brown. I then coloured some sand with red food colouring and made up some orange playdough to form the Uluru (Ayers Rock). Some grass bits, leaves and rocks were found in the garden and I scattered around some brown lentils to add a little more interest.

It really is that simple! My youngest son has designed his own one to do next weekend, and its going to involve lots of slime and jello so have a look out on my stories on Sunday for a gloopy mess 🙂 Until then, happy playing !

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Chickpea Foam – Taste Safe Sensory Fun

Aquafaba, its been around for years; I certainly haven’t created anything new here but I personally only discovered it recently and what an incredible eye opener! Aquafaba is often used in vegan cooking and baking. This super cool substance mimics the functional properties of egg whites in cooking, and can be used as a direct replacement, including meringues and marshmallows.

With baby around now I have to start becoming more conscious of some of the sensory play we do with the boys, and in a few short months I will start introducing her to our wonderful world of play! I was researching edible slime and foam recipes when I stumbled across this Chickpea foam, and in all honesty, it really is the best foam, in terms of consistency, that we have made.

Easy to make

It could not be easier. Simply strain a can (or two) of chickpeas into a bowl and beat on high until it starts to fluff up. Add in a tablespoon or so of Cream of Tartar to really stiffen the peaks, and add in food colouring of your choice. Ill be honest, at first the smell is a bit much, so I chucked in a tiny bit of rose essence to lighten it up.

It foams up better than shaving cream and keeps its form for longer. We made up a rainbow batch that the boys played with all afternoon, making potions and soups for us to sample. Kids adore sensory play and the texture of this foam will keep them busy for hours, just make sure you have some good chickpea recipes on standby for the week to use up the tins 🙂

Have you got any other super fun taste safe sensory play ideas? Id love to hear about them!

Valentine Themed Sensory Bin

Valentine Themed Sensory Bin

There are so many wonderful ways to fill and to play with sensory trays and I love any excuse to find a theme to create one. If you follow my instagram and facebook pages you will see a lot more of my other ideas for sensory bins, we do slime, animal environments, snow, rainbow rice, anything I can really!

Sensory play has a lot to do with the nervous system and your child will react to how it feels, good or bad! They can be both calming and stimulating for a child as well as engaging and educational. Each item used in this valentine themed sensory bin is reusable and bought from our local china mall for under R100.

Items used include artificial rose petals, pink rainbow rice (homemade), pink polystyrene balls, plastic hearts, cardboard hearts, a variety of heart-shaped tins and containers for them to scoop and play.

I used a variety of different textures and shapes here and I knew I wanted to do a “dry” sensory bin this time. As I was creating it I knew that my boys would probably be too “old” for just a touch and explore one and realised that it was the perfect treasure hunt bin!

The challenge was on.

The boys had to dig in the bin, through all the petals and rice to find all 14 of the little plastic hearts, next came the foil ones and so on. My little Yusuf loved the feeling of the Polystyrene balls and watching how the static made them jump (Tip: have a hoover close by, second tip: the rice seemed to diffuse the static slightly so I would definitely do both).

Once we had finished the treasure hunt we moved onto a game of eye spy before Aadam decided he wanted to do arts and crafts with all of the hearts.

So a simple activity that took less than 15 minutes to set up created an afternoon of play!

What else would you add to your bin?

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Fizz Dough Recipe

Fizz Dough Recipe

A soft, fizzy dough to make sandcastles with the magically turns into a playdough consistency, this recipe literally has it all for kids and may just have become my favourite !

We started off by combining equal amounts of cornflour (cornstarch) and bicarbonate of soda. I was running out of cornflour so I think my Continue reading “Fizz Dough Recipe”

Soap Foam Recipe

Soap Foam Recipe

Foam is one of those things I do for my kids at least once a month, and to be honest, I think it’s more for me than for them, it keeps them busy and out of my hair for at least 20 minutes! My kids are going through a super “whiney” phase which is driving me nuts, so I’m looking to all the distractions I can get 🙂 Continue reading “Soap Foam Recipe”

5 toddler friendly Science experiments to expand young minds

5 toddler friendly Science experiments to expand young minds

So I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a “Pinterest” mum…. with such great ideas out there, who has time to come up with their own original ideas right ? With it being “holiday season” with various mid year breaks coming up its perfect timing to get some new ideas on how to spend time with your kids. Continue reading “5 toddler friendly Science experiments to expand young minds”

Cloud dough/ Moon sand recipe 

Cloud dough/ Moon sand recipe 

It’s been a while since we did this one, in fact shockingly, I don’t think I’ve ever made it for my youngest ! (Hides behind hands).

Moon Sand or Cloud dough as its sometimes referred to in the USA promises at least 40 minutes to an hour of exploration for my little ones. With a consistency similar to beach sand (obviously alot softer), the possibilities are endless. You can make cakes, or castles, pies or if you’re a mum of boys like me, everything turns into a quarry and the sand will end up being transported in dump trucks!

Its easy to whip up when your kids need some stimulation in the day, and we often use it to create a sensory tray and hide treasures at the bottom, little ones can then dig through the sand to find the treasures.

It takes less then five minutes to create and is made with ingredients found in your cupboard.

8 cups flour to approximately 1 cup of oil. You can either use a vegetable oil or baby oil. I’ve used both and obviously vegetable oil is safer with smaller kids. Just mix it together in a big bowl until its the right consistency, akin to slightly damp beach sand.

Have fun 🙂
Ps. Excuse the pyjamas I always like to do messy play in the mornings before we get dressed for the day 🙂