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::: a mixed bag


Last weekend we had an enquiry on our Irresistible Ideas Facebook page about uses for clear hair gel. Our instant thought was to use it as a sensory experience – just as you would finger paint. It smells okay (kind of) and it feels cool, sticky and gooey … yep sounds like a great idea to us.

Sometimes however, we have children who are overly sensitive to sensory situations! You will not find these children diving into the fingerpaint or sloppy clay, they won’t be smearing pain from their fingertips up to their arm pits, they may never even venture into your sand pit.

These are therefore the children with the greatest need for sensory experiences. Over the years, we have discovered, usually out of need for these children, that if it can be touched and smeared and rubbed and slopped and enjoyed by very sensory children then it can be provided to our non sensory children with a little … shall we say …

protection. We LOVE zip lock bags!

Sand and water – in  it goes!

Finger paint – in it goes!

Regular paint – in it goes too!

Remember it’s not just our hands that like these sensory experiences. These sensory bags allow for an all over body experience and don’t forget about feet either – especially for our very little friends!

Now for the hair gel – in it goes!

By adding a few little treasures like button, marbles, bugs and insects you can really enhance the children’s experience. Here we picked up a packet of tiny erasers from the Reject Shop for $2 and they were perfect for the hair gel bag …

no sharp or pointy bits to pierce the plastic!

By adding some food colouring you can make things even more interesting. The gel being so dense and oily, does not distribute the colour easily so the children will have a fabulous time trying to mix the colours together.

While we were at it we made up a sensory bag using baby oil. We prefer baby oil as opposed to vegetable oil as it is completely colourless.

This time we added some coloured water as well. Naturally the oil and water don’t mix which adds a lovely bit of science to the experience.

It’s cheap, it’s fun and it’s an irresistible experience whether you like to get mucky or not!


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17 Responses to “a mixed bag”

  1. avatar CathyD says:

    Totally agree, zip lock bags are great. We’ve put shaving foam and paint in ours to explore colour mixing. Hadn’t thought of putting objects in there as well, so might borrow this idea! Fantastic site by the way, just stumbled across it via a link from Teacher Tom.

    ::: Thanks Cathy. We’ve not tried the shaving cream idea so THANK YOU for that one … and welcome to Irresistible Ideas! :) :)

  2. avatar Pam says:

    We use zip lock bags a great deal as well! Thanks for keeping those sensory “avoiders” in mind! :) I’ve had children who begin by only being able to touch a bag like this for a few seconds…and by the end of preschool are fingerpainting and even “arm” painting! It’s so important to start where the child is comfortable and work your way up!

    ::: Thanks Pam! We agree it can be SO EASY to overlook the children with sensory issues, but as we mentioned – they are the ones who really need it … we just have to keep thinking outside that square! :) :)

  3. avatar Jodie says:

    I love the oil and water bag, what an amazing idea> I have often done the paints, etc but never thought of the oil and water. Can’t wait to see the reaction it gets……thanks for the ideas!

    ::: You’re very welcome Jodie! :) :)

  4. avatar clodagh says:

    thanks, i got 4 tubs of gel the other week to do just that but have not got around to it yet, thanks for reminding me. i love the oil and water!

    ::: Well we bet you have fun with it when you do it Clodagh. :) :)

  5. avatar Aly says:

    Do the bags stay sealed even with the children squeezing them? I’m not particularly worried about getting hair gel on the floor, but baby oil could potentially be dangerous if spilled, just because it’s so slippery.

    ::: Aly we like to sticky tape the seal of our bags up … just in case. :) :)

  6. avatar Ms. Jessi says:

    Great post! I featured you on my newest posting, Found It Friday!

    ::: Thanks Ms. Jessi! :) :)

  7. avatar Tracy says:

    Great idea using the little erasers! I have made paint bags before but they always pop!

    ::: Tracy last year we used the same finger paint bags for about 6 weeks but we did buy the most expensive brand of zip lock bags in the hope that they were the best. :) :)

  8. avatar Erin says:

    Can’t wait to try this out. Those erasers are so cute!

    ::: They are very cute Erin AND they came in all sorts of different shapes and animals! :) :)

  9. avatar Darcey says:

    These sensory bags are great! I tried something like this with the preschoolers, but only used a flour and water mixture with some food coloring. I’d love to try these. I’ve linked up to your post here: http://play2grow.blogspot.com/2011/04/weekly-favorites-for-easter-2011.html Hope you’re having a great Easter.

    ::: Thanks Darcey! :) :)

  10. avatar gabrielle says:

    hi guys,
    another activity for kids who do not enjoy sensory stuff is no-mess finger painting: just plop little blobs of paint on the paper, place cling wrap over the top of the paint and let the kids move the paint around creating some lovely patterns and colours. let the cling wrap dry on the paper and, when dry peel it off and you’ll have both a beautiful painting on the paper as well as a lovely cling wrap lead light piece (just stick it on the window and let the light shine through)!

    ::: Sounds cool … Thanks for sharing Gabrielle. :) :)

  11. avatar Donna says:

    Hi I tried these today – baby oil & water coloured with edicol dye. Mine didn’t separate like yours did. The kids still loved it though. What ratio water to oil did you use please?
    PS I love your website.

    ::: Donna I must be honest and say we didn’t measure it but it was about half and half. We used food colouring in the water and baby oil. I’m pleased the children still had fun!! :) :)

  12. avatar Miranda says:

    Has anyone ever tried those freezer meal sealing machines and their bags to make these with? I was thinking it might make them even harder to open. I might try it this week. My son likes to try and open the bags right away and while he enjoys messy experiences sometimes we don’t have time for that and still would like to play.

    ::: We’ve not used them Miranda but it certainly sounds like an interesting idea! :) :)

  13. avatar Fiona says:

    we started this week in the baby room with the paint in the bags the only problem we had was their sharp little nails cutting the bags but nothing that a little sticky tape couldn’t fix, I cant wait to try a few different things out they are also going into our treasure chest for group times I cant wait to see their faces as we add new things to out new sensory area!


  14. [...] 8. Baby Oil Sensory Bag from Play Based Learning [...]

  15. avatar Jo says:

    This would be great on a Light-box.
    I have used those commercial ones, but very expensive.
    I’m going to try the varieties on this site……. thanks for sharing.

    ::: You’re very welcome Jo … ENJOY! :) :)

  16. avatar Kirsty says:

    Oil and water is a really great idea. I think I am going to try this with some autumn/fall inspired objects for a seasonal sensory bag. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ::: That sounds lovely Kirsty … And you’re welcome. :) :)

  17. avatar Gina says:

    As an Early Childhood Consultant, I want to warn parents to stay with in an arm’s length of their child when the child is playing with any Sensory Bags. Plastic Bags can break while a child is playing with them. If the bag is filled with gels or other Keep Out of Reach liquids or choking hazards, the adult needs to react quickly. Water can be thickened with corn starch to form an almost clear liquid.

    ::: Good advice … Thanks Gina! :) :)

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