Welcome to the Edible Construction Sensory Bin! Today we will be exploring what construction people do through the medium of sensory play! I am yet to meet a child that does not love a tractor, digger, dump truck, bulldozer, fire engine, police car or garbage truck or really any vehicle that is big and has a job to do. Today we are focusing in on construction vehicles.
Some construction vehicles you might see on a construction site and that you might consider having in your sensory bin:
- Bulldozer: for pushing away debris
- Front loader: loads up the debris that the bulldozer moved.
- Dump trucks: get loaded up with the debris that the front loader has moved.
- Backhoes: used for shallow digging, for example for pipes.
- Cranes: used for lifting heavy objects around a construction site.
What might people in the construction industry do?
- Make roads
- Build bridges
- Build houses
- Quarry land sites for stone
As well as opening a new avenue of vocabulary and jobs to your children, you may be introducing some to new sensory elements; touch, taste and imaginative play. We encourage you to stay with your children as they play and really use this activity as an interactive time to explore a new topic, to encourage them to get lost in role playing with their construction vehicles and toy people and have fun together.
Talk to them and ask them questions about people in the construction industry.
What sort of things would they do?
What might they build that we use every day?
Do you think this is hard or easy work?
Do you think it might be tough when it is cold out?
Once you have allowed them to engage with you and think about what being a construction person is, move on to sensory questions.
What feels cold?
If we pour this warm water on those ice cubes what do you think will happen?
So warm water melts ice?
Are ice and water the same?
I see you’ve spotted that the ice cubes have treasure in them, how do you think we can get to the treasure?
If we pour water into this flour sand do you think we can make cement?
The number of questions you ask your child will naturally depend on how old your child is. Make it more basic with younger children. They may need you to show them how to engage with what is in front of them, especially if they have no older siblings to watch and copy. Use simple sentences, like, ‘Oooo, that is cold. Ice is cold isn’t it?’ Do you like the feel of warm water on your hands? Shall we try and melt the ice to get the treasure? See how the tractor is digging? For younger children, it can be a good activity for them to learn new words, so say each word outlaid for them to hear and get them to repeat them back to you.
What you will need:
- Something to use as a sensory bin. We have used a Tuff tray, but a pan or plastic tub is equally fine.
- Construction cars; diggers, tractors, forklifts, constructions cones, lego men, etc
- Digging tools, kitchen scoops, spades rakes and the like.
- Edible foods; oats, cereal, pasta, rice, couscous, flour, coffee beans etc.
- Kitchen roll/ loo roll/marble run pieces etc for a flume
- Ice tray and add-ins: berries, small sweets, coins, etc (optional)
- Yogurt (optional)
- Warm water in a jug (optional)
- Start 24 hours before start of play. If you would like to create ‘building blocks’ then you will need a couple of ice trays. We put in ours, yogurt, water with colouring and add-ins frozen in water. Though optional, we would encourage you to add this part into your sensory bin as it adds another element of sensory play with the addition of a temperature difference.
Safety Warning: If you are using coins in ice cubes, as well as just ice cubes on their own, never leave your child unattended with them as they are a chocking hazard.
- Once you have decided which foods you are using, create your sensory bin. It is entirely up to you how you set it up. Some put each vehicle in front of a different pile of food or material. Think about what the vehicle may be good for doing when you match it up with the food pile. For example, if you have a pile of flour, perhaps a vehicle that may rake or scoop easily is the right one to pair it with. Or a dumper truck may be paired with a cereal that has larger pieces that look like boulders.
- If you have any construction toys like barriers, safety cones, lego trees, lego people, add them into the Sensory bin. You will find that your children will soon start to initiate play with them.
- If you are covering the whole of the floor of your bin in, for example oats, why not clear out a road for the vehicles to race and move around in. This will again, add another element to your children’s play.
- Try and make your sensory bin on different levels by cutting the inside of a cardboard roll from kitchen paper, loo paper or wrapping paper in half to create a gutter that they can pour cereal/rice/pasta/coffee beans etc down in.
- Now take the time to engage with your child and have fun with them.
What entertained my almost 2-year-old while exploring was filling and refilling the trucks full of boulder cereal and oats. My 4-year-old was very determined and transfixed in ‘freeing’ the treasure from the ice blocks. She didn’t stop until they were all liberated.
Grace Selous Bull is an arts education author and freelance blogger. Her book, ‘Potty About Pots: arts and crafts for home and school’ is aimed at children from 5-12 years old and takes them through a journey of ceramics through time. Her blog, The Rainbow Tree, explores all aspects of arts and crafts, and is aimed at children of all ages. She is a full time Mummy of two girls, both of whom love being creative, and is married to her husband, Andrew, who does not. Follow her on instagram and twitter.
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