In early childhood, your sweet little ones will begin to use their five senses to explore the world around them. It’s very common for babies and toddlers to pick things up and investigate their texture, color, and shape. Referred to as sensory play, these activities focus on tactile behaviors that encourage curiosity and imagination. There are many benefits of sensory play in early childhood development, including:
- Fun learning activities stimulate sensory processing
- Improved communication and language
- Enhanced memory
- Better balance and coordination
- Development of hand-eye coordination and motor skills
- Practicing cause and effect
Taste is a very important part of children’s sensory experience and, as all parents know, you can’t always stop youngsters from putting toys in their mouths! To make it a fun summer for your babes during playtime, we’ve created a list of seven fun and simple sensory activities for kids that happen to be entirely edible. As a hardworking parent, we’re sure you’ll appreciate that these projects pull double duty as both an educational activity and, in a pinch, an afternoon snack!
Watermelon Building Blocks
Blocks are a quintessential childhood toy, and great for sensory play! In the summer months, build your own unique and delicious blocks out of watermelon. Simply cut the watermelon into squares or rectangles (you pick the size) and freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Once they’re frozen, let the little ones build whatever they like during snack time. It’s a fun way to play on a hot day.
Make Your Own Musical Instruments
Don’t throw that watermelon rind away! Make it into a musical instrument per National Geographic’s easy-to-follow instructions. Once you’ve removed the flesh of the watermelon, turn the rind over and place it face down on a cutting board or another clean surface. Your child can play percussion with their hands or some carrots!
Pretend Play Edible Engineering
You likely have everything you need to facilitate a fun, STEM-based activity already stored in Itzy Ritzy’s reusable, eco-friendly, and stylish snack bags. Pretzel rods and marshmallows make great building materials when you stick the pretzels together using marshmallows as connectors. Work with your kiddos to design the world’s tallest skyscraper or a ladder to the moon!
Chickpeas are a healthy snack that’s easy to turn into an afternoon project. Get started by grabbing a couple of cans of chickpeas from your pantry. Instead of draining the liquid into the sink, pour it into a large bowl. Whip up some easy foam with this liquid, also known as aquafaba: just add ¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar into the bowl and whip the ingredients with a mixer on high until soft peaks form.
Sweetie tableware is a great way to facilitate this activity. Separate the foam into several bowls and add food coloring to each. Then, your child can swirl away on the suction-cupped Sweetie plate so the aquafaba foam stays off the floor.
For an added snack, roast the chickpeas with salt, pepper, paprika, or any other seasonings your toddlers might enjoy. Bake at 425° for about 20-30 minutes. When the chickpeas are ready, add some to a clean section of the plate!
Finger-Licking Finger Paint
Did you know that you can make finger paint at home with simple kitchen ingredients? As a base, use any kind of yogurt or Cool Whip. Put a spoonful into each slot of a cupcake tin and add food coloring or Kool-Aid powder to make a rainbow of hues! Set your kids up with some paper or a clean surface that you don’t mind getting messy and let them create! Also, make sure you have your Wipes Case handy to clean up after.
Edible Slime at Home
Slime is an extremely popular, not to mention entertaining, activity for kids. The BBC’s list of sensory play ideas for kids includes a recipe for edible slime made from cornstarch, powdered sugar, and coconut milk. Mix the ingredients together until they form a smooth, thick paste that, while perhaps not the healthiest snack, is perfectly safe to ingest. Add gel food coloring to make the slime your child’s favorite color! Unlike play dough, our slime is meant to be eaten.
Dig for Dinos in Edible Dirt
Kids love a little sleuthing! Make it fun for everyone with dirt pudding. Start by making a batch of instant chocolate pudding in your chosen serving dishes. Put chocolate cookies, Cocoa Puffs, or Cocoa Rice Krispies in a gallon bag and have your little one smash them with a serving spoon. Once the pudding is set, sprinkle the contents of the bag on top of the pudding and arrange gummy worms, dinosaur gummies, and more surprises in the dish. Then let your child dig around in the edible dirt! It’s messy, but it’s yummy and tactile. If you don’t have any pudding available, you can substitute jello.
Keep The Sensory Play Going
Even when it’s not snack time, Itzy Ritzy has what you need to keep your little one entertained. Our Itzy Lovey™ toys are soft and snuggly with crinkly arms and legs and textured ribbons that will have your kid exploring with touch and sound. These cute toys are also equipped with a textured silicone teether, so your teething baby will have something to chew on and massage their gums.
Trying to keep your baby happy while on-the-go? The Ritzy Jingle™ Travel Toy is a great solution! These toys easily attach to a stroller or car seat so they don’t get lost. They feature a soft toy in a cute animal shape with a jingle bell inside to stimulate your child, and attached teething rings give them something safe to chew on.
If you need somewhere to store these snacks and toys, plus diapers, bottles, and everything else you and your baby need for a day out, be sure to grab one of our chic and stylish diaper backpacks! They’re perfect for a fun day of water play or seashell treasure hunting at the beach. Even our minis have space for it all. Pack it up and get going to your next awesome summer sensory activity!