Hello all! Earlier today I posted about last week’s ocean-themed Little Minds session, which you can read about here. One of the activities was so much fun that I decided it deserved a post all its own- our Giant Sensory Lagoon!
Sensory play has long been established as an important part of early learning. Through sensory experiences babies and young children gather information about the world around them, developing cognitive and language skills. Sensory play also helps bolster creativity, dramatic play, social skills, and motor skills. You can read more about the benefits of sensory play in this post- Sensory Play: Is This Really Necessary?
For our ocean unit, I wanted to go beyond the typical sensory bin and do something on a larger scale. While searching for inspiration I came across Crystal’s sensory pools at Growing a Jeweled Rose. Her ocean-themed pool jump-started my imagination and the Sensory Lagoon was born!
The evening before our session, I filled a large backyard pool with air (no easy feat- this thing needs an electric pump) on our covered patio. I wanted the perfect shady spot so we wouldn’t have to worry about frying to a crisp while playing in our ocean habitat! That night I boiled two cheap packages of spaghetti noodles and dyed one batch blue and the other batch green. The next morning I filled the pool with several inches of water and threw in the dyed spaghetti, which Crystal used in her pool to represent algae and seaweed, as well as the rest of our blue fizzy bath tints left over from our color tubs (in our Sense of Sight Unit). After we finished our indoor activities, we all went out on the patio to swim in the “ocean.”
Before adding anything else to the pool, we let the kiddos get warmed up by exploring the “algae and seaweed.” They wasted no time and dove right in! I have to say I rather enjoyed the sensation of the spaghetti swirling around my feet in the water. It really felt like it could have been ocean plants!
Tex, our designated pasta fanatic, was not deterred by the fact that the spaghetti was dyed green and floating in a plastic swimming pool. He still managed to eat a few stray noodles here and there 😉
Next, I decided some sea creatures were in order. I mean, what’s a lagoon without ocean animals? Our first batch of “friends” was a lively group of jellyfish. Did you know that a group of jellyfish is sometimes called a “bloom” or a “smack?” What would we do without the internet?
These little guys were super easy to make…I created them on a whim the night before school after watching my son find so much joy in chasing a handful of ping-pong balls as they bounced around on the tile floor in my kitchen. All I did was take the balls and hot glue some very thin, long ribbon to one side to serve as tentacles. They were perfect because they bobbed and floated around in the water like real jellies, but without the sting.
After we all got acquainted with the jellyfish family, it was time for a few more creatures to join in. After tossing in the larger sea creatures from our earlier play, I brought out another surprise…
The night before school I made blue and green colored ice cubes by mixing water with food coloring and filling several ice cube trays. I added small plastic sea creatures and shells to some of them and blue water beads to others. I had always wondered what water beads would be like frozen!
Tex wasted no time before dumping the ocean ice into the water. It was fun to watch the little ones play with the ice and the objects frozen inside. These colored ice cubes can also be used for ice painting, which is another fun way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
All in all, the kiddos had a great time. They stayed busy finding all the little creatures hidden in the algae, trying to catch the blue water beads as they thawed out and started floating around, and collecting noodles, shells, and animals in their buckets.
A giant beach ball provided even more entertainment.
Here is one last view of our DIY lagoon. Doesn’t it look fun?
Sydney sure thinks so!
A good time was had by all.
Like the idea of a giant pretend play world? Check out our giant duck pond that we made with a sandbox and a tarp!