(Test) Sensory Play – My Messy Box

(Test) Sensory Play

Sensory Play: Building with cement

 

Part 1: Selecting the sensory base and choosing appropriate accessories


 

Cement is a frequently used material in construction and we wanted to include that element in this sensory play. To realise this, we used cloud dough to represent cement in a construction site. Please refer to the image below for the cloud dough recipe.

 recipe to make cloud dough

 

We also included other accessories such as some building blocks, a cement mixer toy, a bucket, a wheelbarrow, a construction worker and a plastic cake knife. To mimic the experience of making slopping concrete onto bricks to make a structure, we have the cement mixer toy to represent the vehicle used to make cement and a plastic cake knife as a pretend trowel used in spreading cement onto the blocks. The table below can be used as a guide when selecting the type of accessories that you wish to include in your sensory bin activity.

 

Accessory category

Actual item in bin

Rationale

Theme-related item

Cement mixer toy

Wheelbarrow

Construction worker

·        Allows child to connect words to their physical object according to the theme at hand

Associative object

Building blocks

 

·        Allows child to associate other objects with the theme concept

Fine-motor instrument

Plastic cake knife

Bucket

·        Allows child the opportunity to handle a knife safely

·        Allows child to engage in bilateral coordination when scooping cloud dough into the bucket

 

 

Part 2: Preparing the play area and your child

 

When preparing the play area for your child, ensure that the sensory bin is in a safe and comfortable area for your child to play in. You may wish to lay out an attractive mat that is suitable for messy play and is easy to wipe down at the end of it.

 

As this activity may create some mess, you may wish to have your child don an apron. Old clothes are a good alternative to an apron. You can fix one set of old clothes for messy play sessions.

  

We also recommend that you include a damp cloth in the set-up for your child to easily access to wipe his/her hands or clean up any spillage. Before engaging in the activity, ensure that your child has washed and dried his/her hands so that the sensory base can be kept clean to last through multiple play sessions.

 

Do remember to reiterate the sensory play rules with your child before the start of play.

 Rules of sensory play

 

Part 3: Facilitating the play experience

 

Cloud dough may be a new texture for your child to explore. To make your child comfortable with this new tactile material, you may describe and demonstrate how cloud dough is similar to sand through the following actions:

  • Sprinkling cloud dough from up above
  • Making prints in the cloud dough using various items for e.g. pressing down the cement mixer truck a little harder into the cloud dough to reveal wheel marks
  • Make oddballs by grabbing a handful of cloud dough and shaping it in the palm of your hands into a ball
  • Filling the bucket with cloud dough and then over turning it to reveal a ‘sand castle’

 

Once your child is comfortable with the cloud dough, you may proceed to other play prompts and role play scenarios. In the table below, we suggest some prompts that you may use for each mini-activity in the sensory bin where appropriate. Do remember that the play experience should still be child-led and that play prompts should accommodate the direction in which your child leads the play.

 

Mini-activity

Play prompts

1.     Block-stacking

·        Let’s pretend to be a builder and stack some blocks together!

·        How many blocks can we stack before it falls down?

·        What colours are the blocks?

2.     Making cement

·        Which construction vehicle helps to churn out cement?

·        Let’s use the wheelbarrow to transfer the ready cement into the pail for the construction worker to use later in his building.

·        How many wheelbarrow trips does it take to fill the bucket with ‘cement’?

3.     Building a structure

·        Blocks need to be stacked securely together to form a strong and steady building. What do construction workers use to put blocks together?

·        How do they spread the cement on each block before stacking another on it?

·        What structure are we building? How big is it going to be?

 

You may use this activity performance checklist to help guide you better when facilitating your child during play.

 Activity performance checklist: 

 

As an extension to this activity, encourage some reflection after play by having your child think about:

 

  • What is my favourite construction vehicle?
  • What sound/action does it make? (You may refer to the book ‘Tip Tip Dig Dig’ by Emma Garcia. Click here for the read aloud version)
  • Who shall I call to be part of my construction team? List their names.

 

Download the printable below to help you facilitate this reflection.

Construction reflection: 

 

Part 4: Encouraging clean-up

 

For sure, sensory play can get messy. But this is a good time to reinforce traits of responsibility and discipline through cleaning up of their play materials at the end of every play session. You may have to guide your child through the clean-up process.

 clean up chart

Part 5: Storing

 

The cloud dough in this sensory play activity can last through multiple play sessions if stored in the right way. To get the most out of it, sun out the cloud dough on a tray for some time before keeping it in a container or ziplock bag. This prevents the accumulation of dirt and germs in the cloud dough after each play. Also, clean and sanitise the other materials during play. Ensure that all of the items are dry before keeping them away.

 

 

Part 6: Reusing the materials

 

You may reuse the sensory accessories to create or refresh a play experience for your child. You may include your own set of construction vehicles to create a brand-new construction site. Other items such as ice cream sticks or toothpicks can also be used as scaffolding poles to inspire your child to build a structure through a different medium.

 

Quick access to other activities:

Theme introduction

Starter play

Sensory play

Creative play