Ellie’s Nana and Papa got her a sandbox for her birthday that she is pretty smitten with. Every day she crawls over to it, climbs inside and swirls her little legs around, grabbing handfuls of sand and flinging them everywhere. She’s actively exploring with all of her senses these days and so I thought it was high time we got around to doing more sensory types of play. I put on my preschool teacher hat and surfed pinterest for some inspiration and thought we would start simply with rice. A different texture and look than sand but similar in how you play with it.
I put just a little bit in a plastic storage tub and she immediately went right over, climbed in and helped herself to sensory exploration!
I wanted her to first experience the rice with just her hands but then gave her a measuring cup. She used that pincher grasp and was picking up bunches of rice and placing them into her cup! Then she would dump the cup haphazardly and start over again.
We had a playdate with some of my wonderful Mama friends and their little ones and we thought we would start these sensory playdates once a week, allowing the children to explore a new material. This week we introduced them to homemade playdoh. They weren’t too impressed (we thought they may be too young for playdoh but wanted to try anyway).
The adults seemed to enjoy squishing the playdoh far more than our littles did, but that was okay, because I happened to also bring the bin of rice. This turned out to be a bigger hit.
I colored half of it with food dye to give it a more “pinteresty” look. Ellie and her friends enjoyed exploring the rice for quite some time.
All in all, I would say a very successful sensory play date! We’ll bring that playdoh out when they’re a bit older.
In my preschool/ childcare days, I worked with infants for about three years out of the ten plus I was in early education. I learned a lot about the needs of babies. Sensory exploration is a very large part of being a baby and I wanted to make a special soft, sensory place for the babies in my care to explore and crawl and lay on. I put together a rather shoddy play mat that at the time I thought was a work of genius. It has however, lasted through three years of babies in my care and then moved with me to a toddler room and a preschool room where it stayed for almost five years as a reading corner mat. When I left my job to stay home with my baby, that mat was one of the few things I took with me. I wanted to give my baby girl a chance to lay and crawl and enjoy my efforts and sure enough she is doing just that. For this sentimental gal, I get pretty happy seeing my own baby playing on a mat that I made and that already has so many memories for me.
I had collected bits and pieces of different types of fabric- sheepskin, flannel, micro-fleece, cotton, velvet , chenille and even vinyl. I sewed them all together to create the top. I took a large piece of thick fleece, sewed front sides together and turned the whole thing inside out and voila! I had myself a sensory mat. Ellie seems to really be enjoying the different textures. She prefers scratching at the vinyl the best. I love how well its held up. I can throw it in the wash on hot and it comes out just as soft and cuddly as ever. I’m tempted to make another. Some of the fabric is worn and loved on this one and I think I could make a much nicer one now. But this little mat will always have a place in my heart and now even more so with new memories of my own baby girl enjoying the sensory exploration, this very important work that babies do.