Messy play is a wonderful way for children to explore their senses and there are lots of materials you can use. With younger children you must always be aware of course that whatever they are playing with is guaranteed to end up in their mouths – so shaving foam or playdough is no good for the littlies. Children explore so much with their mouths that there’s no point trying to stop them, but instead you can provide a material that it’s safe for them to use. So what better than some jelly!
You can easily get hold of jelly which is made with natural food colouring. With babies you can start with just one colour. I usually pop on a cover-all bib and sit them in their highchair at the table. I put a mound of jelly on the highchair’s tray and then let them go for it. Watch them poke, squish and taste. Chat to them while they play and give them new words to try like wobble and squash. You could sing ‘Jelly on a Plate’ while you play.
With toddlers and pre-schoolers you can use 2 or 3 different colours of jelly and see what happens when you mix them together. This is a fun first lesson in colour combining, as you watch red and yellow jelly turn into orange. Let the children help you prepare the jelly so they can observe how it changes from solid to liquid and back to solid again.
Sometimes children can be reluctant to try new sensory experiences and may not want to touch the jelly. To overcome this and encourage them to experiment you could have a jelly lucky dip by hiding a few tempting treasures at the botton of a bowl of jelly for them to fish out.
You can also add props such as pans, plates and spoons to role play a kitchen or cafe. Spooning the jelly out onto plates is good hand-eye co-ordination practice.
This post is happily shared with weareTHATfamily in the Works For Me Wednesday carnival.