As an Infant/ KS1 teacher of 10 years I’m highly aware of just how important play is to learning and development and as a new mum I want to expose my precious treasure to as many different types of play as possible!
Yes we sing, read, visit playgroups, the library, park and even go to Baby Sensory every week but I also want to enhance Little Miss T’s experiences when we’re at home too.
She has the essential hoard of wooden and, dare I say it, plastic play equipment that seems to appear from nowhere once a baby is born but I want her to also have a chance to get messy and stimulate those senses!
Easy, you would think, but before babies are weened it’s actually rather tricky to expose them safely to messy and sensory play of the kind that looks creative and fun. So as a starting point I’ve compiled a list (and linked back to any relevant bloggers) of some of the things Little Miss T and I have had fun with-
Bubble machines are fab if you can get one (ELC has excellent ones!) but a good old pot of bubbles works a treat too! We’ve tried blowing them outside on a windy or sunny day and enhanced bathtime with them- mess free and baby won’t yet be able to grab at them quickly enough to get the solution on their hands so they’re super safe! LMT loves watching how the light and colours dance on them as they float about!
- Soggy spaghetti!
Boil it up, rinse under cold water and then pop into a messy play tub (or your baby bath/ washing-up bowl) with a splash of warm water. Rather than putting this out to touch with hands I stripped LMT to her nappy and sat her in it- she’s able to sit and hold her head up really well now but even when teeny she could sit with my support or lie in it. Top tip- do it in a warm room and keep your eyes peeled so that they don’t stick some in their mouths if you’re not ready for them to eat solids yet- LMT loves putting everything in her mouth at the moment but during these kind of activities she seems to chill out and just squidge about with her feet!
Whilst they’re still gummy and toothless balloons are great fun! LMT likes to lie on her tummy and reach out for them or bash the balloons on the ground. Watching them bounce and float around is fun too! She also loves looking through them and seeing the world in a different colour! Top tip- don’t blow them up too big so that they still have some squidge to them, little ones can handle them much better then.
- Sandwich-bag painting!
The idea from Pinterest is that once the paper and paint is secure inside the sandwich bag, you tape it to the table or ground in front of the little one but this has never worked for us as LMT likes to pull everything to her mouth! This activity is still perfect as I don’t have to worry about paint covered hands being stuck in her mouth yet she gets to feel the squidgy texture, watch the colours combine and create something too! If you’re worried that the paint might seep out then simply tape the edges of the bag or use edible paint rather than shop bought. Top tip- paper goes soggy and tears so card is a much better option!
Or Oobleck as you might see it called. This is simply magical! Combine 2 cups of corn flour with 1/2-1 cup of cold water and mix. Just like with the soggy spaghetti I let LMT sit in it and she enjoys trying to grab at the mixture (it changes between a solid and a liquid). At this stage I’ve always left it its natural colour but as she gets older I will add food colouring to change it up a bit. Top tip- despite its liquid appearance, gloop can often go hard (part of the awe and wonder if it) so I wouldn’t advise poring it down your sink during clean-up!
Super easy and it smells divine!!! Hartley’s crystals are the best as they are sugar free and use natural colourings so should they ingest some then you know it’s as safe and as healthy as jelly can be! An alternative is to use a sachet of Vegi-gel and make your own natural coloured jelly up. We’ve used this for several activities including the favourite- sitting in it- but also inside sandwich bags with other objects in there such as buttons, sequins, pasta twists and glitter!
- Ice cubes!
Lots of fun either in a sandwich bag or simply on her high chair tray. When using the sandwich bags I’ve also added splashes of food colouring to them before freezing just for a little variety and interest.
We’re just about at the first tastes stage of weening so LMT is beginning to explore food- if you’re going down the purée route then the leftovers of these can also be a great sensory play resource and it will ease your sense of guilt over the waste when they don’t like or refuse to eat something! Bonus!
Have lots of fun stimulating those senses and be sure to let me know how these activities work for you- we’re always on the look out for new twists to old faves!
Until next time,
Mrs T Xx