Sensory Play: Plant a Veggie Patch!
Looking for a way to freshen up your little one’s play food adventures? We had an absolute blast teaming up our Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set with some homemade ‘soil’ for this awesome hands on vegetable planting activity.
What you need:
- Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set
- 2 batches of cocoa cloud dough (to make one batch mix 2 cups all purpose flour, ¼ cup cocoa and ¼ cup vegetable oil and then crumble the mixture together by hand)
- Measuring cups
- Muffin tins
Making the Soil
It can be tempting to make the sensory base ahead of time to avoid too much mess but I promise you it is such an enriching part of the activity to get your kiddo involved with the making process. My 3 year old loves getting to measure and pour out the ingredients! We made two batches of the cocoa cloud dough. For each batch we mixed 2 cups of all purpose flour with ¼ cup cocoa powder.
Then we added ¼ cup vegetable oil and stirred it with a spoon. The next part is really important to make sure you get a good consistency. Use your fingertips to squish and crumble the mixture together. My daughter loved doing this and she kept commenting on how soft and smooth it felt.
You want to end up with the cloud dough looking nice and brown. It should hold together when formed into balls, but when you apply pressure or poke it, the mixture will crumble apart.
Let’s get Planting
Once we had our ‘soil’ we picked out our favorite vegetables from the Farmer’s Market set. This was a great opportunity for my daughter to recognize which pieces of the set were fruit and which were vegetables. So much descriptive language and vocabulary being shared! To plant the chosen veggies we had two muffin tins ready, along with a spoon and our cloud dough ‘soil’.
My little one carefully added some ‘soil’ to each of the muffin tin compartments. This was great for fine motor skills and we even linked it to some early numeracy by using simple volume words such as empty, full, more and less.
Next my daughter got to choose which veggies to plant where. You would not believe the delicate thought process that went into choosing each one. She was so careful to make sure that her precious veggies were planted in the middle of the soil, sometimes even making a little hole for them to perch in.
It was fantastic to see my toddler so hands on with the sensory material. It is important to give your children opportunities to build their confidence when using different sensory materials. I love that she confidently touches materials and asks questions / makes descriptive comments about them.
Each time she added a new vegetable she was working her fine and gross motor skills hard. She regularly crossed the midline to place and plant the vegetables which is an important skill for children to develop because it helps to promote the coordination and communication between the two sides of the brain.
Ways to Extend the Play
The main event here was most definitely getting to plant the vegetables in the cloud dough, but there are so many great ways to extend the play. Here’s a few ways we continued to enjoy this set up:
- Numeracy links – simple counting questions such as how many green vegetables did you plant? Or how many vegetables are in each muffin tin?
- What’s missing – with just one muffin tin in front of them, ask your child to carefully study what’s in front of them. Then ask them to close their eyes while you remove one of the vegetables. Can they tell you which one is missing? Let them remove one while you close your eyes too, they will think they are being so sneaky!
- Guess which veggie – a simplified version of Guess Who where your child can ask you questions about the vegetable you have in mind to try and narrow down the answer.
- Re-planting – yup it’s as simple as that, take all the vegetables out, pour out the ‘soil’ and re-plant those vegetables in a different container. You could use a large storage container to make it more like a farmer’s field.
We truly had so much fun with this set up. It allowed for my toddler to be hands on at all times and there are so many great links to numeracy and literacy learning, as well as fine and gross motor development. The great news is that you can store the cloud dough in an airtight container or bag for use months later too. Don’t worry if you don’t have our Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set, you can enjoy this activity with many different toys such as mini dinos, insects or even making muddy pools for people counters. Happy learning!