Jell-o Excavation | Jello Sensory Play for Kids

Try jello sensory play for a fun and engaging sensory experience for toddlers and preschoolers.

Jello Sensory Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

The basic ingredients are shared below, and yes, this experience can be set up with gelatin-free products! Details below.

Supplies: Jello Sensory Play

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Knox Gelatine (there are four bags in one box).

If you’d rather use vegan (gelatins-free Jello), try this product from Jeannie Prebiotics

Large Plastic Tub. This under-the-bed container is great.

Tools to excavate with: spoon, butter knife

Pipettes for squeezing colored water

Liquid Watercolors. This set from Sargent is fantastic for this project.

How I made the Jell-o Mold

Check your Jell-o package for best directions.

I poured a cup of cold water directly into the mold, sprinkled all four bags over the water and let it rest for one minute. Next, I added three cups of hot water and stirred it up. Then the animals were added. I placed it in the fridge to set, which takes three hours. To free it from the mold, I ran hot water over the back of the bundt pan for half a minute and the whole thing slid out. You could also spray the mold with cooking spray.

Set up your Jello Sensory Play Area

Begin my setting up little plastic toys in a bundt pan full of liquid Jello, and then refrigerated it overnight or until set. Be sure to follow the instructions on the box.

Release the jello mold into a large container. Provide excavating tools, liquid watercolors, and pipettes.

Make it an Invitation to Explore

Set the supplies up as an invitation and ask:

“What could we do with these materials?”

“How does it feel when you touch it?”

“How can we get the toys out?”

 

Once the allure of the jello has gone its course, introduce bottles of liquid watercolors and a bowl of water.

 

At this point, you could scoop and mix the slimy concoction. Follow the child’s lead and see what interests them.

Despite my art school background, I had no idea that lime green and magenta watercolors would mix together to make blood red (!!), and I’ll spare you from some of the more gory-looking snaps. After I guffawed at the mess, my daughter asked me what “gross” means. This was clearly a rich vocabulary lesson as well.

Story Cards with Kids

Storytelling with Kids | TinkerLab.com

Have you ever used story cards as a reading alternative with children? My two and a half year old can’t yet read, but she truly loves a good yarn, and these story cards turned out to be a really fun way to engage her in storytelling.

For the past month or so, she’s been enamored by this awesome set of cards, Tell Me a Story – Circus Animal’s Adventure (Amazon link), a beautifully illustrated “book” that encourage children and adults to craft creative and original stories.

These were a gift from my husband, who learned about them in preparation for a storytelling course he teaches at Stanford. (He should be writing this post, right!). While he can tell a great story, I don’t consider myself a natural storyteller at all! However, the cards are really easy to use and I’m finding that my own ability to improvise, build suspense, and think outside the box has improved through the process of using them.

Story Cards with Kids

There are so many ways to use the cards.

Pull out Cards in Random Order: When I first introduced them, I’d pull out random cards, one by one, and weave a story until I decided we were done.

Invite your child to choose the cards: Once my daughter got the hang of these improvised stories, she wanted in on  the game.  Now she often chooses the cards — sometimes deliberately and sometimes blindly.

Invite your child to join the storytelling: I am usually the one who tells the stories, but I notice that as the storytelling process unfolds my child is more inclined to chime in. I may say something like “The mouse whispered to the lion,  ‘We’re going to take a trip!'” And then I’ll ask her, “Where could they be they going?” To this she says,”Virginia.”

Storytelling with Kids - TinkerLab

Pull on your Imagination: Sometimes our stories are literal representations of the cards we pull, and other times I try to push myself to think more abstractly about the imagery. Last night, a circus tent became an itty-bitty toy tent, plopped in the middle of a dandelion field. Initially, N said, “That’s not a dandelion, it’s a firework!” and I replied, “In this story it could be a dandelion. What do you think?” And she agreed!

The publisher also creates Fairytale Mix-upsLittle Robot’s Mission, and Mystery in the Forest.

Storytelling Resources

Ideas to get you started on Storytelling: from Simple Kids

Storytelling Games: A fun list of almost twenty games to play with kids of all ages

Listen to stories online at the Storybook Online Network

Do you have ideas for telling a good story? What stories do your children love?

Bento Cutting

My daughter is a curious child, and inevitably finds little treasures that I hide away for rainy days. And so it was with a cute little set of Bento cutting tools this week. But her timing was actually perfect, as It’s just about time to celebrate The Year of the Rabbit. Hopping after the tail of the Feisty Year of the Tiger, The Year of the Rabbit is supposed to be a calm year when we all get a chance to regroup, nest, spend time at home with family, and follow artistic pursuits (!!). Truly, I’m not making this stuff up!

My child loves cutting up play dough and cookie dough, so why not cheese and ham, too? There are some talented folks out there who create gorgeous and hilarious Bento lunches, but I doubt I’ll ever be one of them because my daughter has to be IN CHARGE of the cutting, and I’m merely a lowly sous chef who’s occasionally granted rights to poke cheese through the cutters with a toothpick.

We happen to live near a Daiso store (BEST store ever for people who like to scope out unique, cheap Japanese odds and ends), which is where I scored these fabulous tools. Little hands can use these cutters to easily cut thinly sliced cheese, while cutting meat requires a bit more elbow grease. As such, she beautified a lot more cheese than meat. If you don’t have Bento cutters, small cookie cutters work equally well.

In the end, it wasn’t about the presentation at all. While I was able to squirrel away a few pieces for our sandwiches, she piled all her little pieces into a bowl and then gobbled them all up. We had so much fun making these that I have a feeling you’ll be hearing more about creative lunch-making from us again. Especially since we’re supposed to be following our artistic pursuits this year!

Want more Bento?

Adventures in Bentomaking Blog

20 Easy Bento Lunch Boxes: Parenting.com

Just Bento Cookbook

Enormous List of Bento Resources from Cooking Cute

I’m so grateful to all of my readers for subscribing to my blog, leaving comments that keep me going, joining me on Facebook, experimenting with your children, and bringing your thoughtful ideas to the table. I happen to be one of the lucky ones who lives near the only Daiso store in the USA, and I want to lend a Bento hand to a loyal reader in need of food beautification! If you leave a comment letting me know how you would use this set by Friday, February 4 at 12 midnight PST you will be entered into a random drawing for the cute Bento tools. (Set includes Stainless rabbit mold for rice, Animal food punching tools, Stainless food storage container, Animal sandwich cutter, Green fruit box, Insulated lunch bag).

Wishing everyone an early happy Lunar New Year!

The winner is selected!! Thank you everyone for your participation. I received so much positive feedback on this giveaway that I’ll be sure to have one again soon. Stay tuned…