Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

Hello, lovelies!

We have been having so much fun with dry sensory play lately- the twins seem to have a renewed interest in dumping, filling, and pouring, so I’m rolling with it by thinking up new and interesting invitations for them to practice this schema.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

I first saw rainbow barley back in February over at Mama Pea Pod and have had it in the back of my mind ever since!  So last weekend when I was at a local thrift store looking for “treasures,” I was excited to stumble across several bags of expired barley on a shelf near the kitchen items.  I quickly snatched them up and got to work dying them in a rainbow of colors as soon as I got home using a few squirts of liquid watercolors (thanks to Asia at Fun at Home With Kids for the recommendation) per 1lb bag.  After I had obtained the desired colors, I spread them on trays to dry overnight and was greeted with vibrantly colored barley the next morning! Our barley had no smell at all and no color flaked off on our hands or clothing. We will be playing with this again and again, I guarantee it!

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

To set up the invitation, I waited until nap time and then, considering the twins’ current obsession with “the ocean sea” and all of her creatures, gathered a variety of shells of different shapes and sizes from around the house as well as a large starfish we have on display.   I placed the starfish in the middle of a vintage metal tray and arranged the barley in a swirl of colors around it, creating a beautiful and inviting spiral of colors and textures.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

I placed the tray on a sheet on the the floor and then added some miniature vintage Jello molds (they belonged to my Great Grandmother) full of the extra barley along with the different shells.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

My little ones adored this activity! They were able to scoop, pour, dump, and fill to their hearts’ content.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

The shells made great scoops and added quite a bit of visual interest as they popped against the brightly colored barley.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

In addition to the sensory play, there was quite a bit of imaginative play happening, too!

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

Will thought it was quite funny for the starfish to “walk” like a person and then slip and fall into the barley, proclaiming “whoopsy daisy” in a baritone voice.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

Sydney decided she wanted to make cupcakes with the barley, asking me for candles and cupcake wrappers, which I happily provided.

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play

Making a wish and blowing out her candle…how sweet is that?

Here are a few more beautful dry sensory play invitations we have done recently: Scented Watermelon Sensory Rice, Lemonade Pretend Play with Scented Sensory Rice,  Strawberry Picking Sensory Basket

Looking for more information on the benefits of sensory play? Try these: Sensory Play, Is This Really Necessary? and Building Language with Sensory Play

Rainbow Barley Sensory Play


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  1. Ohhh I want to play in it!

  2. Love the way you think so much about the presentation! It’s also great the way you vary the toys. the same activity can be new and exciting with different toys.

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