On Friday afternoon, we played with our new water beads. They arrived on Thursday and I soaked three packs overnight in two plastic tubs of water – red in the red tub, pink in the pink tub, and clear beads split between the two tubs. I had been going to add food colouring until I remembered we didn’t have any, so instead I added some peppermint essence which made the water smell lovely. I also made peppermint-scented ice cubes (hearts and fish.) When we were ready to play, I put the tubs with the water beads on to the Tuff Spot which was out in the garden, and the children helped me to add the ice cubes. They spent a little while exploring the textures of the beads and the ice in the tubs, before deciding to tip them all into the Tuff Spot. This made it easier for all four children to play with them at once. Tiddler spent quite a long time concentrating on carefully placing the water beads in the empty fish ice cube tray, and Rabbit did the same thing with the heart tray. Monkey was wearing his new tool belt, so used his hammer to explore and play with the beads. Luckily, he did this very gently as it is a real hammer. Tiddler then went to get his toy hammer and bashed the ice and beads as hard as he could! Owl made a picture of a helicopter by placing the beads on the studs of a Lego Duplo base board. After a while, Rabbit and Tiddler couldn’t resist getting into the Tuff Spot so I added quite a lot more (warm) water and this extended the play for a while longer. I enjoyed watching them play, some of the time together and some of the time alongside each other, and I think they all found it quite absorbing and calming. It’s a good addition to our water (and ice) play, which we do quite a lot, and I’m sure we’ll be getting the water beads out again very soon.
On Wednesday evening I read this post about an amazing mother’s creative plans for Valentine’s day play with her toddler twins, even while her heart is breaking for the loss of her baby daughter less than two weeks ago. If she can do it, then I have no excuse, so yesterday morning I made some ice cubes with red food colouring in the water, ready for some messy play in the afternoon. I couldn’t find my heart ice cube moulds, so it wasn’t quite as Valentine-themed as it might have been, but I don’t think the children minded having Hello Kitty, Lego and star ice cubes instead.
In the afternoon, we found some sparkly bits in our craft stash and put them in a large plastic crate with some water. (We are going to do it again this afternoon, this time with the sparkles frozen in the ice cubes which I think will be even more fun.) The children enjoyed pouring the water into the crate and then ran to get some bath toys (first just one boat, and later some more boats and a dolphin) to put in before adding the ice cubes and watching them melt and turn the water red.
There was lots of tipping and splashing and stirring, and a certain amount of inevitable ice cube eating. They loved playing with all the different shaped ice cubes, and also enjoyed the patterns left on the plate that was under the star ice cube tray in the freezer.
They were having so much fun that when the ice had all melted they wanted more, so I found some extra plain ice cubes in the freezer. And then Rabbit started rummaging in the freezer, looking for anything else she could put in, which is where it got a bit random. I let her put some frozen green beans in, which made her and Tiddler very happy, and they started eating them too. Rabbit still wanted more, so I let her put some raisins in, which they happily played with, fished out and ate. I was a little bit worried about them accidentally eating the sparkly bits though, so I think I’ll lay the ground rules today, and no food will be going in. And then another day, we might do it with everything edible, but not a mixture of both!
So that’s how to do Valentine’s day sensory play in a completely haphazard and random way. If you want a more sensible, organised version, read Jennie’s account of her twins enjoying their ice and water play, and even getting in and having a paddle. Although the same activity developed in different ways, in both cases it was good old messy child-led fun. Thank you Jennie for the inspiration.
Yes, I know it was a long time ago… I was hoping to get away with it by waiting for it to snow again, and then sneaking this blogpost in so it wouldn’t look out of place, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. So, I’m just going to publish it now anyway. This is what we did when it snowed!
We found ice in the garden, brought it into the house and investigated it. We discovered a beetle frozen in a block of ice, and melted the ice to get the beetle out.
We touched the ice to see what it felt like and looked at the different shaped pieces. The circle of ice came from inside a bucket. We found different ways to melt the ice, leaving it at room temperature, using the heat of our hands, placing it in cold, warm or hot water, and putting salt on it. Salt was really good for breaking a thick piece of ice quickly. We put a line of salt across the middle and that weakened it enough so we could break it with our hands.
We experimented with a variety of tools to break the ice. The hammer was the most fun!
We played in the garden. We made snow angels, threw snowballs, made a snowman and pulled each other on the sledge.
Some of us couldn’t resist eating the ice and snow from the garden, so we made some Lego ice cubes with clean water to play with and eat!