Babies and young children learn from the world around them and one of the most important ways they do this is by engaging their senses, ALL their senses. I have come up with the idea of ‘Sensory Bags’ (pictured below)
These ‘Sensory Bags’ are just made from plastic wallets and filled with irresistible sensory experiences for babies and children to explore; that are sealed with strong tape. Above I have made dry spaghetti, cotton wool balls, wooden sticks, washing up liquid, paint with rice and coloured string. But obviously you could place many, MANY different items in and it would work, just as well. (I later added one of crisp, autumn leaves.)
Placing the items in plastic wallets allows babies to explore without the worry of ‘what if they eat it?’, ‘please don’t get paint all over he carpet’ and ‘are the pieces to small?’. It reduces the risk, although the activity should be supervised at all times.
- The first thing I decided to do was just place them on the table and let the children freely explore. I planned this activity for children 6 months to 2 years and they loved it. The children explored the items by rubbing them and making marks, shaking the bags, holding them up the their faces and squeezing the different textures.
- For older children, or as a more supervised activity, you could let the children explore the ‘Sensory Bags’, then introduce a bowl of each item, which the children could then explore whilst being directly in contact. They may notice things that they didn’t before, like the smell of the washing up liquid or the feel of the soft cotton wool.
- Another use for the ‘Sensory Bags’ is to use them for mark making. Place a piece of paper over the top of each ‘bag’ and allow the children to make marks/rubbings. This will create different patterns from each item.
- For older children, such as pre-school age, talking about senses can grow their imaginations. Lay the ‘Sensory Bags’ down at circle time and ask the children their views on the items (without touching them). Ask them to think about what they think each bag contains and what it might feel, smell, taste or sound like. Children come up with amazing descriptive words which you probably never even thought of. Then they can open the ‘bag’s and engage their senses.
- An adaptation to the ‘Sensory Bags’ is ‘Sensory Bottles’. These are great for sound and you can be a bit more creative with the contents. Things that work well are water/oil/glitter, dried rice with small pom-poms and buttons.
Other ideas to fill your sensory bags with are shaving foam, flour, porridge oats, mud, bubble wrap, herbs…. The possibilities are endless. These are always a favourite with children aged 6 months, right up to 5 years old, every time I set out the activity. Hope your little ones enjoy it too!!!