Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Arctic sensory play

Ever since we first saw Disney's Frozen Chester has been asking me lots of questions. He is mainly interested in finding out about ice, snow and cold. The scene at the begining of the film where the men are cutting the ice blocks is something Chester asks talks about everyday. 

You may remember recently that I told you about Chester arguing that crocodiles come from Zoos, and how mortified I was that he still thinks we are joking when we say they are wild creatures! 

Since then I have been determined to open his eyes to different animals and their habitats. This is where the Arctic sensory play comes in. 

I placed some water in a rectangular tub, and then placed a smaller round pot filled with water in to the tub. I placed this into the Freezer and left over night. My cousin kindly gave me some arctic animal figures, which I set aside ready to play with. 

There was another idea that I wanted to merge with the Arctic theme. 

I enjoy reading lots of blogs, and something that I see time and time again are water beads. I have always wanted to give them a go with Chester and Millie. So I researched further and brought some on Amazon. They were very cheap, under £2 for 6 packs. For those that don't know, water beads are the small gel crystals that florists use (I made sure I brought non toxic ones). When they arrived I was shocked at how small they were. But we emptied the packets into a bucket of water and left them over night. They grew to the size of marbles! 


When the time came to play with our Arctic sensory scene I layed out a plastic sheet and placed the frozen tub and bowl full of water beads onto it. I eased out the small round plastic pot from the tub, and filled that hole with warm water. This caused some of the ice to crack slightly and have different textures. Exactly what I was hoping for! I placed the animals in the ice tub and let the Children explore! 


They both took to it really well, at first they wanted to just play with the ice, we talked about the different animals and their habitat. We talked about what they might like to eat, and then added some fish into the warm water hole for the animals to catch. 

Chester extended the play by asking to use the ice from inside of the round pot I took from the tub. He turned it into a home for a Yeti! He used a big Moshi Monster figure as a Yeti and tried to scare all of the other animals! 

Next the attention turned to the water beads, Chester loved feeding them to the Yeti and the other animals. He also realised pretty early on that they bounced well on our wooden floor! Millie used small pots to collect the water beads and tip them into the Arctic pool. We spoke about the colours of the beads and what they felt like in our hands. Some of the beads crushed in our hands when we squished them. But that was ok, there were plenty more to play with! 

I was amazed at how much this activity captured the Children's imaginations. They were playing with it for a very long time, sometimes together, and sometimes on their own. But at all times they were engrossed. 

When we finished playing I simply topped up the water in the Arctic tub and popped it back into the freezer. The water beads were put into a tub. The next day both Children asked to play Arctic again! This time Craig had his day off and was only too happy to play with them and see what all the fuss was about! They all loved it and after another long play session, Craig told them about the ice age and then they placed some of the animals in the water hole and placed them it back into the freezer for another day! 

Chester, being 5, asked me lots of questions, it really fueled his desire to understand the Arctic. I will be writing another post in a few days about how we have continued our Arctic learning in a fun way! 

Has anyone else used water beads for sensory play? I would love to hear how you got on... 

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