Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play

My twins are nuts about the ocean and all its amazing creatures. With summer starting, this is the perfect time for some fun ocean activities to beat the heat! We’ve got several ocean-themed activities to share over the next couple of weeks, and first up is this simple but fantastic sensory play idea that kept them busy all morning long. Read on to see how we whipped up a giant batch of soapy sea foam for sensory and pretend play!

Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play

Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play

The twins have always adored bubble play. The first time we tried playing with soap foam was back when the twins were about 18 months old, and I’ve been meaning to try it again for ages. However, I never thought of coloring the foam until I saw rainbow soap foam over at Fun at Home With Kids (genius), and I thought making an ocean-themed foam would be an incredibly rad way to kick off our ocean series.

Ocean Sea foam sensory play

I think I was right!

Ocean Sea foam sensory play

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When the twins walked in and saw their large tub of ocean foam, they were super excited and couldn’t wait to dive right in. I had hidden ocean creatures from the Safari Ltd Ocean TOOB along with some large shells from our nature collection at the bottom of the tub, so they were surprised and delighted with each new discovery.  They alternated between swirling, scooping, and generally immersing themselves in the beautiful puffy foam and using their ocean animals to act out very intense dramas 😉

Ocean soap foam sensory activity

Making our sea foam was super easy and used ingredients we already had on hand. I played around with the proportions until I got the best results for my particular mixer, but it’s by no means an exact science…less water will give you a more dense foam, while more water will give you a puffier foam. Too much water and the foam won’t last too long, and you’ll have a lot of water at the bottom of your bin. But I guarantee your kids won’t care either way, so don’t sweat it too much.

Swirly soap foam sensory play

Soapy Sea Foam Recipe

  • 1/3 cup water (I’ve read that distilled water yields the best bubbles, but our tap water did just fine)
  • 1/3 cup Dawn dish soap (you can use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour in the UK)
  • A few squirts liquid watercolors in your desired color/colors (we used turquoise and green). I’ve also seen food coloring and Koolaid used to color soap foam, but beware of staining with both of those types of coloring. The liquid watercolors washed right out of our clothes and skin with no problems. 

To create our foam, I simply combined all the ingredients above in the bowl of our KitchenAid stand mixer. If you don’t have one, no worries- you can use a hand mixer, blender, or even a food processor. Just mix equal parts of water and dish soap and then add a small amount of corn starch to act as a stabilizer. When I was testing the recipe the bubbles I made using cornstarch felt more dense and lasted much longer than those I made without, but if you don’t have any on hand it will still work.

Turn your mixing apparatus on high and mix for a couple of minutes until your foam is nice and fluffy. Then scoop the foam into a large container (we used a clear plastic storage bin) and repeat until you have the desired amount. I made a couple batches of blue, a couple more of green, and some plain white and swirled them all together to suggest the waves of the ocean.

Ocean soap foam recipe

This was one of those activities that I may have enjoyed just as much as the kids did! All those mounds of beautiful foam were completely irresistible.

Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play Recipe

And the foam lasted extra long thanks in part to the cornstarch. All in all, this was a winner. I hope you try it!

Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play Recipe
Developmental Skills

This activity is a super fun form of sensory play, which you can read more about in this article: Sensory Play: Is This Really Necessary? Themed sensory play activities are fantastic for young children because they are so engaging and are full of opportunities for imaginative play. I love seeing my kiddos incorporate new things that they’ve learned (such as knowledge of ocean animals and their habitats) into our play setups.  You can see our entire sensory play gallery by clicking HERE– we’ve got tons of fun stuff to try!

Soapy Sea Foam Sensory Play Recipe


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  1. Love it!!!!

  2. Gramma Robin says:

    Any problems with getting soap in their eyes?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hmm, we did not have this problem when we did it at 18 months or this time around at 3 1/2. I’d say if you were really worried about it you could try using tear-free shampoo, but really I don’t see how there is any more danger than a bubble bath poses. I guess you could always have the kids wear safety goggles if it were a concern, or skip the activity for a less bubbly one!

  3. I have been wanting to try some foam — this one looks so fun! Love the color!! Pinned!

  4. This is such a wonderful activity. I have pinned it and shared it on Google+.

  5. I don’t typically post comments from stuff I’ve found online, and I hate to be the fuddy-dud that ruins the fun, but my son is 19 months and we had a terrible experience with this. Well, it was great and he loved it until he rubbed it in his eyes. This was terrible and hard to rinse his eyes out, and of course as a paranoid mama, the worst was running through my mind; he won’t be able to see, I couldn’t get him to open his eyes for 30 minutes, the longest half hour of my life. Through all the screaming and tears from both of us he seems to be fine now. Needless to say, if we try it again it’ll definitely be with baby soap!

    • Stephanie says:

      So sorry you had a negative experience with soap foam! With little ones who are likely to rub things in their eyes, I would most definitely use caution and tear-free shampoo is a great idea. Only you know best what type of sensory play your child is ready for!

  6. Thank u this will be perfect for my homeschool about the seven day creation.

  7. We definitely going to try this. So perfect for my 3 year old.

  8. Akmomma says:

    My three year old loved this. We used blue Dawn and didn’t need food coloring!

  9. I did this with my nephew tonight. He absolutely loved it, and so did I! (Especially all of the stories that went along with it!)

    I did use baby powder instead of corn starch.

  10. I was just wondering…did you make this up right before you let them play or were you able to make it a little bit ahead of time so it was ready?

  11. Hi, I’m trying to do this at my school. I work with 15-2 year old. I don’t have a mixer, processor or hand beater, will the bubbles still come out like in the picture if I mix it by hand?

  12. How clever to use your Kitchen-Aid mixer to make the foam… thanks for the tip about the liquid watercolors. It wouldn’t be worth dealing with the stains from regular food coloring.


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  2. […] there for a stabilizer. We didn’t use any liquid watercolors or other coloring like they did here, but it still had a slight blue from the dish detergent. We made a couple batches of it using that […]