What do you do when there is no snow left outside and your children still want to play in some white, wet stuff in celebration of the snow-theme you've been focusing on?
a sensory experience for all ages
from Maryann Kohl’s book First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos
- a shower curtain, tablecloth or other floor protector (to minimize the mess that is sure to overflow)
- an old cheese grater
- 1 bar of Ivory soap
- a cutting board or plate (optional for grating soap upon, but a great idea for adding additional tactile opportunities into the activity since the grated soap will then need to be transferred from cutting board to bin)
- a good-sized bin (We discovered our first bin was not large enough and had to transfer our materials to a large dish tub, which worked perfectly; a lidded storage bin would also work nicely since you could then just cover the mixture for later use.)
- 2-3 rolls of toilet paper
- 1/3 cup of Borax
- warm water in a pitcher
- optional figurines, spoons, scoops, etc. for playing with
- lidded plastic containers (for packing the mixture into in order to save it for play another day)
1. Depending on the age and ability of your children, grate the Ivory soap or have your children do it.
2. Enjoy smelling the grated soap together for extra olfactory input.
4. Transfer the soap into plastic bin.
5. Enjoy the fun of unraveling tolls of toilet paper.
Encourage tearing off of sheets and balling some up...
...unrolling it from different heights or rolling it out along a hallway and chasing after it, etc.
The more levels your child gets at while unrolling the better. While your child is having fun, some balance and heavy work can naturally occur.
6. Pile the paper into the bin.
7. Measure out and add 1/3 cup of Borax.
8. Pour in enough warm water to saturate the soap-toilet paper-Borax mixture.
9. Dig in with your bare hands to mix, mash...
...and moosh to your heart’s content.
10. Then, play away with your bare hands...
...or with figurines, perhaps making snow forts by pushing the mush to the walls of the bin and hollowing out a space for figurines to shelter themselves.
Sensory and Skill Highlights
|Teamwork transferring bins...|
- Motor Coordination/Planning
- Olfactory Input
- Tactile Input
- Practical Life: Grating
- Creative/Imaginative Play
- The name “Clean Mush” seems to come from the soapy ingredients used. We found it had little to do with how our floors ended up even though we had put an old shower curtain beneath our sensory experience space. Be prepared to find bits of white stuff around even after cleaning and sweeping up.
- For sensory defensive children, tools such as wooden spoons, scoops, etc. – or even a plastic bag over the hand – can encourage more enjoyable play. Putting favorite figurines into the mix for children to dig out can also help. Just be prepared to use a toothbrush to clean them up afterward, as the mush does not come off nooks and crannies with water alone.
- Alternately, if a child is reluctant to touch the mush after getting some stuck to finger, as happened with our Jack, simply let the child observe you having fun playing with it. Take up a small piece of mush, roll it in your hands, pat it into a pancake, roll it in a ball, clap it together. Offer a small piece to your child to brush, pat or clap off your hands.
- For ease of sculpting fun with the mush, go easy on the amount of warm water you add. We did and were able to make snowballs, snow forts, etc.
- Or, simply squeeze as much water as you can out of a handful of mush before sculpting with it.
- When playing with children of different age levels, divide the mush so small hands can explore it while big hands make their own creations.
- Don't be afraid to get feet into it, too!
- Easily transform this activity into a color mixing one, by separating the dry mixture into three bins and adding red, yellow or blue water to each. Then, mix the different colored mush together to see what happens.
- To add a sense of scientific discovery to the experience, before making the mush, ask children about the nature of each of the ingredients (hard, soft, powdery, wet, etc.). Then, ask them to predict how mixing them together will affect them. In each step of the process, note changes in the property of each ingredient, as well as when you can no longer separate the ingredients. Alternately, experiment with what happens to Clean Mush left out in a flattened patty, a small ball and a big clump as opposed to the same types of mush shapes left in covered containers. Try freezing some, too.
- To add an element of following directions, or to provide a social story for your child, feel free to print this post out, cut it up and paste it into a picture-based direction menu/social story. (I really wanted to make one here today, but just do not have time to create a new document, get it into a pdf, etc. But, I did want to throw the idea out there.)
What other “snowy” sensory experiences do you enjoy inside? Any favorite variations or extensions for using Clean Mush? Do share in a comment. Thanks!