My kids have always loved using their cars and animals to make prints with in various sensory materials, and sometimes even paint with. Our usual sensory base of choice is play dough but this time we decided to make it a little messier by using swampy oobleck!
What you need:
- Learning Resources Jumbo Jungle Animals
- Swampy Oobleck (to make mix ½ cup cocoa powder with 1 ½ cups cornstarch, then add approx. 1 cup water, mix until consistency is right)
- Some form of shallow tray or container
- Large bowl of water and dish soap
- Tea towel
Making the Swampy Oobleck
Oobleck has the coolest consistency, sometimes a solid and sometimes a liquid. I knew it would work great as a swampy texture for the animals to leave footprints in so we whipped up a batch. This involves mixing ½ cup cocoa powder with 1 ½ cups cornstarch. Once the dry ingredients are mixed together, gradually add 1 cup of water. This is a great opportunity to get your child hands on with measuring and mixing. My toddler always loves being involved in making the sensory base, as well as enjoying the activity itself.
Get Prepped to Avoid too Much Mess
This might seem like an obvious thing to say, but always try to have your play space neatly organized before starting the activity. We put out the animals, along with the tray of oobleck. We also prepped a large bowl of soapy water so that the animals could have a wash after. And of course we kept a tea towel nearby for drying the animals off after their bath.
Time to get Stomping!
Once we transferred the swampy oobleck into the tray, it was time for my little one to choose which animal was going into the swamp first. Mr Gorilla was first up and he made some pretty cool footprints. It was really neat to see how his feet got a little bit stuck with the swamp being quite bog-like. My little one had to pull him out but was so happy to then see his little footprints left in the swamp. His feet were pretty mucky so she gave him a good wash and dry.
She worked her way through all of the Jumbo Jungle Animals, describing each one as she held it. It was great to hear so much descriptive vocabulary flowing from her as she played. She was also using her fine and gross motor skills to make the prints and then wash off the oobleck in the water.
She was super excited to discover a ‘magical trick’. She worked out that if she tapped the oobleck footprints they disappeared, ready for the next animal to make a new set. This was all to do with the neat liquid / solid state of the oobleck… but obviously to her it was pure magic and I didn’t tell her any different!
Using Those Senses
On the surface this is a really simple activity, but there are in fact so many different skills being developed. She was constantly using her senses and linking them to descriptive language. She would describe the squelch of the animals’ feet going into the oobleck, or the resistance she felt from the sticky swamp as she tried to pull out the animal, as well as the shapes and sizes of the footprints left. As we used cocoa powder to make the oobleck brown, she also seemed pretty happy to sniff away at the chocolate aroma as she played!
Have you ever tried using toys to make prints in a sensory base? It’s a great way to work on motor skills as well as sensory confidence. It will often lead to some really fun open-ended creative play after as well. We ended up with the entire jungle having a bubble bath while the ‘zoo keeper’ drew pictures in their swamp for them to look at! It’s all play… therefore it’s all learning!