February 25 is Mardi Gras! Also known as “Fat Tuesday”, Mardi Gras is an epic day of celebration marking the last bit of decadence before those observing Lent, a 40-day period of sacrifice, begins. Mardi Gras celebrations are a feast for the senses, with over-the-top parades, crazy costumes, scrumptious feasts, music, and more.
Speaking of senses, research shows that sensory play is a critical component to your child’s development. From language development and cognitive growth to building motor skills and problem solving. In honor of Mardi Gras, we’re sharing some fun ways to stimulate your kids’ senses this Fat Tuesday. So, gather your purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power) beads, feathers, sequins, and glitter and get ready to party, preschool style!
Mardi Gras-Themed Sensory Bag
Turn a plastic zipper bag into a lava lamp with baby oil and food coloring! Simply squeeze the baby oil into a large zipper bag until there’s enough to cover from corner to corner. Then add a few drops of purple or green food coloring, and finally, a bit of water. Seal the bag, then place it in a rimmed cookie sheet (or in another, larger plastic bag) to catch any leaks. Pass it to your little one and let them press and poke the blobs of color and watch as they break up into smaller blobs before reconnecting. Encourage them to shake the bag and see what happens to the blobs of color. Add beads, glitter, or sequins for an extra Mardi Gras touch!
Mardi Gras-Themed Sensory Tubes
Learning Resources’ Primary Science® Sensory Tubes are great for on-the-go exploration and discovery! Fill them with purple, green, and yellow shapes from the Learning Resources Attribute Beads bucket and colored plastic beads for an exciting noise maker (bonus activity – ask your child to help you dig through the bucket to find the yellow shapes, then the green, then the purple!). Or fill your tube with water, glitter, beads, and sequins for a mesmerizing, calming device. Try filling the tubes with rice for a fun (and educational!) find-it game – give the tube a shake and ask how many objects your kids see? What colors are they? What shapes? What is the biggest thing they see? What is the smallest?
Mardi Gras-Themed Sensory Bins
There are endless ways to play with a sensory bin and making one is so simple! Grab an aluminum baking dish or plastic storage bin and add a “base” – think sand, plastic beads, water beads, colored rice or pasta, beans, pom poms, Playfoam Pluffle™, you name it! Add your Mardi Gras beads, Attribute Beads, feathers, pom poms, sequins, gold jingle bells, glitter, and whatever other celebratory bits you’ve got in the craft closet and let your little one dig into this Mardi Gras mish mash! Encourage them to sift the substance through their fingers, push it all to one side and then the other, make piles and smash them… Provide plastic measuring cups, spoons, scoopers, and plastic tweezers and let your child experiment with the best tool to pick up each object. See if they can sort the objects in the bin by color or type or fill a container with one type of object. Or just let them play!
No matter how you choose to celebrate Mardi Gras, make sure you’re using all of your senses!
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