Earth Day Sensory Play, 5 Ways from First 5 LA!
Sensory play is an important way of learning using the five senses: smell, touch, taste, hearing, and seeing. Through stimulating the senses, sensory play helps young children deepen understanding of the world around them and helps develop hone fine motor and problem-solving skills. Plus, it’s fun!
In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, here are five nature-themed sensory learning activities:
DIY rainstick instrument. You will need: A paper towel roll, aluminum foil, tape (duct tape works best), unpopped popcorn or rice, construction paper, broom and a pencil. Take two pieces of aluminum foil that are a little longer than your paper towel roll. Twist both foils into tight wires (like snakes). Take one snake and wrap and spiral it down a broom — this will be your outer coil. Take the next aluminum snake and wrap and spiral it down a pencil, making sure it is a tighter coil than the first. Now put the small spiral into the larger spiral. This is going to be the inside of your rainstick. Insert your aluminum spirals into the paper towel roll. Seal off the bottom of your roll with some construction paper and tape. Carefully pour about 1/4 of a cup of kernels or rice into the roll. Seal off the top of your rainstick with more construction paper and tape. Make sure that the seal is tight so that no rice or kernels will escape from the bottom or top. You are done! Turn the stick upside down and voila! The sound of rain!
Shaving cream clouds. Spray dollops of shaving cream onto a baking sheet. Put a drop of food coloring in each dollop. Have your child mash and squeeze the shaving cream with their hands. What does it feel like? What happens when different colored shaving creams mix?
Rice rainbow. You will need: sealable plastic bags, rice and different colors of food coloring (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo — a very dark blue — and violet are the colors of the rainbow). Pour about a 1/2 cup of rice into each bag. Put a few drops of food coloring into each bag: one red, one orange, etc. For the violet bag, drop a few drops of red and blue together. Seal the bags and have your child help shake and squeeze the rice in the bag to get evenly coated with food coloring. Can they arrange the bags to make a beautiful rainbow? Cook the rice to eat, or use colored grains in glue collages or a sensory bin.
Magic DIY nature globe. You will need: An empty, label-free water bottle, glitter, small flowers, water, and duct tape. Start by filling your water bottle with some small flowers or pretty leaves you and your child have found. Add glitter or gems. Fill the bottle up with tap water. Screw the cap on and seal it with duct tape. Give it a good shake and watch your beautiful nature creation!
Observation station. Take your child to a park, the beach, or the mountains — anywhere that you can experience the natural world. Have your child close their eyes. Ask them what they hear. Do they hear birds? Dogs barking? What do they smell? Fresh cut grass? Have them open their eyes. What do the clouds look like? What about the trees or water?