How to make a Valentine sensory tub
A sensory tub offers children a invitation to dig in and explore colours, textures, smells and sound. They can be a spark to start imaginary play, to use lots of language, and to have fun with maths.
For our Valentine-themed sensory tub, I started out filling a container with some rice. We often use this plastic under-the-bed storage box for our sensory play, as it’s good size to hold a variety of materials, and shallow enough so the children can reach right in and explore.
Then I started to add some interesting extras. These hearts are just pieces of card, decorated with different patterns, textured paper and glitter glue. I added some shiny gift-wrap bows too. Fun treasure to hunt for!
We can easily introduce some maths by including items that are different shapes and sizes. These heart cookie cutters are perfect. You don’t need to ‘teach’ the shape, colour, size, volume, area, pattern concepts here – just let your children play, and they will discover things for themselves.
And then I popped in some things from the kitchen: bowls, pots and spoons. This offers opportunities for scooping, filling and pouring, which are great for hand-eye co-ordination. And they’re a little invitation into some imaginary play.
Then it’s over to the children. There’s no right or wrong way to play with a sensory tub really, it’s all about exploring.
What about throwing?
I often get asked about what to do when children start to throw the contents of the tub all over the floor. What do you do if this happens?
With lots of interesting things to try out in a tub like this, I find children engage quickly with the materials, and aren’t focused on throwing the contents. But if they do, you might try modelling a better way to play, sitting along side and serving up a rice cake! You might put the tub away for a while if your child really isn’t interested – it will keep for a later play time – and go off and find an alternative where they can do some throwing. Perhaps make balls out of bundled-up socks and try some target practice against a wall. Quite possibly the throwing has nothing to do with boredom or ‘naughtiness’, just a genuine interest with the movement, feel and fun of throwing. So, follow your child’s lead and help them find a good way to explore it.
More lovely Valentine’s Day activities for your children