So many kids love sensory activities! Touching, squishing and running their fingers through all types of items helps to extend their learning.
But I know it's not always possible to have messy play as an option. And sometimes, you want to keep the kids guessing with an activity -- they do love surprises.
This game mixes sensory play with logical reasoning skills -- and it can be a fun way for some not-so-messy sensory fun too!
Mystery Balloon Sensory Activity
Choose a variety of ingredients that can be used to fill a balloon. Try to include items that might feel similar, such as sugar and salt, so that kids have to really think as they play with each balloon.
Here's a list of ingredients you might try:
- dry coffee grounds
- baking soda
- popcorn seeds
- dried beans
- coffee beans
- shaving cream
- whip cream (from a can)
Note: flour didn't work for us at all -- it was too light so we weren't able to pack enough into the balloon since it didn't compress like other ingredients.
We used coffee, oil, water, sugar, popcorn kernals and shaving cream in our balloons.
A few tips when filling balloons --
- Use a funnel for items such as sugar, salt, popcorn, etc. to easily fill the balloons.
- If you want to fill balloons with liquid items, double the balloon before filling (we had one burst on us so better safe than sorry)
- Don't put any air in the balloons -- just the ingredients you want to use. This allows them to stay flexible and maliable when the kids are squishing them around in their hands.
- We found that the latex smell of the balloon will mask most of the scent of many ingredients so kids may not be able to use their sense of smell to detect what is in the balloon.
This can be a great activity for kids of all ages. For younger kids, show them each ingredient that was used to fill the balloons and then have them guess which balloon holds which of the ingredients.
You can allow them to touch or only look at the ingredients displayed on the tray (your choice) before they feel each of the filled balloons.
Older kids will enjoy guessing what's in each balloon without having any idea of the ingredients used (similar to that throw-back game where you would 'stick your hand in the box' -- you might have played at Halloween parties).
Ask kids which item they would prefer in a sensory ball (believe it or not, we all have a different sense of touch so different items will be appealing to kids).
And then have them describe what they are feeling -- expand those brain muscles so they come up with something other than 'squishy'.
Are the balloons hot or cold?
Lumpy or smooth?
Which are easier to move around in your hand?
You can also add in a little science by showing kids that all the items in a balloon will float (because they are surrounded by the latex/rubber) whereas individual items will sink or float in a large tub of water.
You can see in our experiment that individual popcorn kernels sink while the orange balloon filled with the same amount of popcorn kernels will float -- I know, pretty cool!
All that fun learning wrapped up in a little plastic balloon :)
What type of sensory play do your kids enjoy?
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