We had such heavy rains last week that the trees in our yard shed almost all their leaves. After a week of raking and piling up leaves, the kids spent the entire weekend jumping in the leaf piles.
They were having so much fun being outside that I decided to make the most of the weather and set up a sensory play with jello and dry leaves.
I got out three mid-sized aluminum foil trays. I mixed jello mix in one tray and put it in the refrigerator to set quickly.
In the second tray, I gathered plenty of dry, crackling leaves (staying tuned to the fall theme). I checked the leaves to make sure there was nothing sharp or pointy.
In the third tray, I poured in some warm water. I put these sensory trays in the backyard and the kids weren’t interested! That called for some drastic action. I called my husband K to come play with me in the back yard. That did the trick. The kids came rushing out to see what I had.
D was getting ready to put her hands in the trays and play when I said, “Go on take off your socks, roll up your pants, and get into the tray.” I was expecting some resistance because she had to step into the leaves barefooted, but she got in right away.
D rolled up her pants and stepped first into the sensory tray with dry leaves. She started giggling because the leaves were ‘tickling’ her. D kept stomping and crunching away on the leaves and the little one could wait no longer. So D had to step out.
The second tray had the jello. D put her foot in and loudly came the squeals…”It is cooooold, squishy, jiggly. It is soft, but my feet can cut it. It is sticky…it is sticking to my feet. My feet are turning red. ”
After five minutes the little one could wait no longer and so D stepped into the tray with warm water. If you do this with more than one kid, make sure you factor in waiting time for the other kids as well.
The tray with warm water had lots of surprises as well. “Hey look! The pieces of jello are floating in the water. The water is turning red.” The warm water began to melt the clumps of jello and D was super excited.
By now the little one had stepped into the jello. He really wanted to get out of the jello, but he likes to do the exact something as D. I could see the struggle in his face because he disliked the feel of the jello on his feet.
In the end wanting to follow his sister’s footsteps won. He got in and out of the jello tray a few times and then moved to the tray of warm water. Talk about ‘heroine’ worship!
Sometimes you think you’ve given them new experiences and all that but. Then the kids surprise you by taking what you provided and making it all their own. Besides the sensory exploration, this is a perfect activity to target descriptive vocabulary.
Just as I was about to clean up, D grabbed one of her toys and put it into the jello. Now the kids just took off with their play scheme. Please note the shark fin sticking out!
The shark was followed by the other fish and soon they had a whole lot of stories about the ‘filter feeders’ who were drinking up the jello. I have a note to myself to make some blue jello so their sea creatures can be in their ‘natural habitat’.