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Sensory play is always a success at our place and with Miss 2 still putting everything in her mouth, we are always conscious of creating taste-safe sensory small world experiences.
This Sensory Beach Small World was no exemption. Other than the toys, it was completely edible!
Taste Safe Sensory Beach Small World
After waking very early this morning, Miss 2 was read to go down for her nap a touch early today however I had hoped that I could stretch her out to a bit closer to her normal time to keep up with our daily routine.
I have been meaning to give this a go for some time but with limited fridge space for the tray, I had been putting it off. With it shopping day tomorrow, I was able to move some goodies aside and make room for our tray to fit – winning!
While it seemed ironic to create a beach-themed small world on the first day of winter, the sun was shining so it seemed like a waste of a sunny day not to.
What you need to set up your Beach Small World
- Play Tray (Kmart)
- 2 teaspoons of Gelatine Powder
- 500ml hot water
- Blue Food Colouring
- Desiccated Coconut
- Ocean Figurines ( Wildlife Republic)
Please keep in mind that your play tray does need a little depth to allow for your ‘jelly to set’. We kept it to just 500ml so that the jelly would be quite shallow and set quickly.
We used the Mackenzie brand Gelatine Powder and just followed the instructions to set our ocean. I would suggest following the directions on yours if you are using a different brand.
If you don’t have any polenta or coconut, have a look in your pantry and be inspired by other taste-safe options that you have already have at home. Cereals and pasta are always well received at our house!
How to set up your Taste Safe Sensory Beach Small World
To start with, place your gelatine powder in your bowl. As you pour your hot water into the bowl, whisk it vigorously to remove any lumps. While whisking, drop in your food colouring. We added about a teaspoon as I wanted the water to be quite a dark blue to contrast against the bright yellow polenta.
Pour the mixture into your tray and then place it in the fridge. Ours tilted slightly on the shelf, hence why it is deeper to one side. The gelatine mixture was just over 1cm deep at the deeper end and took about an hour to set.
Once the gelatine has set, sprinkle polenta over a third of the tray to replicate the sand. We used the coconut to create the foam of the waves on the shoreline and then where our whale and orca are destined to break through the water.
Position your animals and you are ready to play!
While setting up this beachside landscape, I hadn’t revealed to the girls what it was I was hoping to create. With every addition, I asked them what they thought it could be. It was really very exciting for them – especially Miss 5. We have been telling each other a lot of stories lately to ready for the beginning of her own story writing journey.
How to play with your Taste Safe Sensory Beach Small World
The beauty of small world play is that it doesn’t need much direction. Allow it to inspire creativity and imaginative play. Each child will take their own direction in the way they engage in this style of play. Some will be immersed in the scene, giving the figurines personalities and a storyline, others will be engrossed in the sensory side of the activity.
Both my girls love the sensory side of these small world setups. They start exploring with a curious fingertip and by the end of their play, they are typically covered from head to toe in the mix – this time was no exemption!
While I was excited to talk about migrating aquatic mammals, today the girls were fascinated by the sensory side of this activity. They loved touching each of the three elements individually before combining them and creating their own blends.
I love watching them explore. As their confidence builds, their hands dig deeper into the tray. The smooth reflective surface of the wobbly ocean was soon turned over, the crisp white coconut once sitting gently on the external became a murky cloud beneath the facade and the bright yellow polenta became a slurry of green.
Sensory play offers so many learning opportunities and allowing the child to lead their own play has many benefits. You can inspire them to broaden their own imaginative limitations while also building their understanding of their environment and vocabulary.
This can all be done by asking seemingly simple open-ended questions such as these:
- How does it feel?
- What do you think would happen if you mixed the yellow polenta with the blue jelly?
- Where in the world do you think there would be beach like this?
- If you were to go to this beach, what else do you think you might find?
- What is something that you remember from your last trip to the beach?
- Why do you think the whales are on the surface rather than under the water?
Any sensory play is going to engage your child in meaningful play. We aren’t talking just ABCs and 123s but other important life skills such as:
- Fine Motor Skills
- Hand Eye Coordination
- Cause and Effect
- Bilateral Coordination
- Problem Solving
- Imaginative Play
- Sequencing Events
- Turn Taking
- Social Skills
- Speech and Language Skills
Our pre nap hour was heaps of fun! Colour mixing, mess making and a dash of science (gelatine turning the water into a solid in the cold and then it melting in the heat of the sun).
When you create your own Taste Safe Sensory Beach Small World, please share it with us! Pop a photo in our Facebook Group! We would love to see it!