Sensory play has to be one of the most frequently blogged about exploratory learning activities for children. My kids don’t have a designated sensory bin, but they have plenty of everyday opportunities to learn about textures through messy sensory play.
Last month, for example, they asked if they could see an expired container of baby formula. I figured it might as well be used as a learning experience before heading to the trash bin, so I handed it to them, along with a large metal bowl. Baby formula is a similar texture to flour, but (in my opinion) it cleans up better because it clumps together a little more (so spreads less in the first place), and it’s designed to dissolve in water. Take the activity outside and you can simply hose off your patio or lawn at the end – the formula will not hurt the grass. Flour clumps together and acts like glue when mixed with flour.
At which point we switched the activity over to some parent-directed cleaning. Which Johnny actually quite enjoyed, since he doesn’t get to play with the dustpan very often.
Some formulas will be stickier than others; if you get stuck with a sticky one mix some vinegar and dish soap with water (not a lot – maybe 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2-3 tablespoons of dish soap for a bucket of water) and it will clean up without too much trouble. Better yet, take the play out to your back yard and simply hose the formula into your grass when the kids are done playing!