The wobbling tray of dreams: jelly sensory play

Yesterday I thought I’d be all ‘insta mom’. I whipped out the water beads that we’d carefully been soaking. I imagined Ev and Harmie playing contently as they explored the beads in my posh new sensory tray (garden tray). It didn’t quite live up to my shiny, filtered, expectations.

Harmie squashed and attempted to eat the first bead that she laid her hands on. Ev became over excited and threatened to launch water beads at the ceiling. I had to carry out a quick extraction and offer an alternative, more exciting, prospect that everyone could enjoy today.

I came up with jelly. LOTS of jelly. We had some packs that needed using, and I realised their consistency is similar to that of the water beads (once destroyed by Harmie). All you need is jelly, plastic containers of different shapes and sizes to set it in (we loved ice cube trays too), a large tray to pop it in, and utensils for them to explore with (as well as their hands and feet!)

Before you get started: be sure to check out my 8 Principles of Play!

At 9am we were in the garden with my wobbling tray of dreams. It was messy. It was sticky. They had to have a bath immediately after. But they had they the BEST time.

They explored, scooped, mashed. They prodded the jelly until is slipped through a funnel. They squelched with their hands. They slid with their toes. They giggled together. And Ev ate his body weight in jelly. I can’t get the smell of jelly out of my nostrils. But it was worth it!

This activity is great for developing the senses and fine motor skills.

Further development through play:

  • Touch: explore the texture of the jelly in contrast to the hard utensils.
  • Language: talk about how the jelly feels in your hands, what words can be used to describe it?
  • Taste: explore the sense of taste using a variety of flavours.
  • Sound: listen to the sound of the jelly as you touch it.
  • Smell: try to guess each flavour from its smell.
  • Fine motor skills: try building with jelly, spooning it in and out of containers and removing it from the moulds.
  • Imagination: add plastic animals or toys for your little one to play with.

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