Summer sensory activities are the perfect way to channel your little explorer’s curious nature. The weather’s warm. Okay it’s more like, the weather’s super-hot. And you need an activity that will keep your tot from whaling, “Mommy, I’m bored.”
Sensory Beach Bag
Your kiddo is bonkers over the beach. She remembers last year’s trip and can’t stop talking about the sand, the surf and how the two mixed to turn into a heavy, wet, gooey mortar-like concoction.
There’s no need to plan a trip just to play in the sand. You can do it at home.
How? All you need is a plastic baggie, some craft sand and a few faux shells. Really. And it’s almost just as much fun. That’s right, almost.
Even though she can’t exactly frolic in the sand or wade into the water, this pint-sized activity gives your child the chance to explore different textures, listen to sounds and see vivid colors. And it’s all in a convenient little carrying vase. Or rather, a baggie.
Learning and Development
- Explore through the senses of touch, sound and sight.
- Build fine motor skills. This includes eye-hand coordination, dexterity and grasp.
- Recognize and identify different colors.
- Explore what happens when sand and water mix together.
- Make predictions and observations.
Beach Activity Materials
- Craft sand – in at least two different colors
- Card stock paper or cardboard – in blue and one other color
- A marker
- Modeling clay
- Craft sticks
- Food coloring or water color paint
- A thin paintbrush
- A zipper baggie
- Draw shell shapes onto the card stock or cardboard. Why not use real shells? Well, you can. But, it’s so much more fun for your child to make her own.
- Cut the shell shapes out.
- Add texture to the shells. Pull soft modeling clay apart into dime-sized pieces. Smooth the clay onto the board, like it’s finger paint. Don’t worry, it will stick. Use the craft stick to create textured ridges on the shells.
- Add the sand to the baggie. Start with one color, and add more one at a time. With each one, ask your child to name the color.
- Put the sea shells into the sand. Now your child has an instant beach in a bag. Close the zipper and shake the sand. Ask your child to listen to it. What sounds does it make? Have your child use her hands, and not her eyes, to find the shells in the sand.
- Feel the sand through the bag. Ask your child to tell you what the texture is. Can she feel the grains of sand through the bag or not? Can she move the shells around through the bag?
- Open the bag and pour the sand onto a piece of blue paper. The blue represents the ocean.
Experimenting with the Instant Beach
Now that the sand and the shells are on the paper, it’s time to add some science to your child’s sensory experience. That means it’s prediction time. Ask your child what she thinks will happen if she adds water to the sand.
Pour a cup of water. Use a paper cup or one that’s for art only. Drip a drop of blue food coloring into the water or add a swirl of blue water colors to make an “ocean.”
Drip or splatter the ocean water onto the sand with a paint brush. Your child can feel the sand as she adds the water to it. Right not she’s gathering data to see if her prediction was right. Ask your child to compare her prediction with what really happened.
Artsy Extensions for Summer Sensory Activities
What else can you do with this sensory activity? Your child can draw with glue on card stock paper, and then sprinkle the colorful sand on top. Don’t worry if it’s still wet, it will dry. Compare how the wet sand sprinkles and sticks to the glue with some of the leftover dry sand.
Are you looking for more sensory activities? Check out these ideas for toddlers and preschoolers:
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Erica is a mom, educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.