Sensory bags are a big hit right now and it’s easy to see why!
It’s a fun tactile experience for your little one that’s completely contained- so there’s no mess! They’re also super cheap and easy to make. I used one as the centerpiece the other day when I made my Sensory Play Box, but since the boys aren’t really sitting up yet, it’s hard for them to access. I wanted to make something that would lay flat on the floor and stay in place during tummy time, so I decided to mount a sensory bag on a piece of cardboard. Then I figured- if I was mounting one sensory bag, why not three?
The great thing about this board is how versatile it is! You could use it with kids of all different ages!
–Babies can use it during tummy time or sitting on an adult’s lap
-With toddlers, you could build language by talking about what they’re seeing and feeling, naming the colors and using words like “squishy”. You could have older toddlers try and copy your movements as you draw in the gel with your finger
–Preschoolers can practice making shapes and letters
–Kindergarten and first grade students could use it to practice handwriting, phonics or sight words. The letters gradually disappear after you write them so you could play a game where you (or another child) writes a word and they have to race to read it before the gel spreads out again.
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To make the squishy colorful sensory board you will need;
-zip lock bags (I would recommend sandwich size but you could make them bigger if you want!)
-clear hand soap (I’d suggest buying a big bottle of refill soap like this one)
-Food coloring (I got this set of McCormick neon food coloring and I love how bright the colors are!)
-A big piece of corrugated cardboard
–Acrylic Paint (I only needed white- the color is up to you)
How to make your squishy colorful sensory board;
You’ll want to start by cutting your cardboard to the size you want and painting it.
I used white paint because I wanted there to be a big contrast when you move the colored gel in the finished product. (You only need one board. There are two in the picture because I was making an extra for a friend).
Let the paint dry!
In the meantime, you can assemble your sensory bags.
I made three for each board and it was a good size but you could definitely do more if your cardboard is big enough!
Start by opening the ziploc bags and squirting in about 1/4 cup of soap
(a rough estimate is fine. I wouldn’t really recommend trying to measure it.)
Then add about 5 drops of food coloring to each bag,
or slightly more if it’s a lighter color like yellow or green.
Carefully squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal it securely.
Then you’ll want to squish the dye to mix it thoroughly.
Next, spread the bag out on a table so the gel is in a nice, even layer.
This is your chance to check that you have the right amount. You want enough gel to cover the surface evenly, but still be able to push it aside with your finger and see clear through to the table.
Repeat with the other bags, and lay them out next to each other to make sure they’re even and the colors work together
(I ended up needing to add more green).
Once you’re satisfied with the contents of your bag, fold the top over and seal it with a piece of duct tape.
Then place it, tape first, inside another bag
(you could skip this step if you want, especially if you’re making these for older kids, but I like the added protection).
Seal the outer bag carefully as well.
Once your board is dry, you can lay the bags out on it…and use duct tape to tape them down- first between the bags, then one long piece across the top and the bottom.
I decided to trim the extra cardboard around the duct tape to give it a more finished look.
Then you are essentially done!
I took a silver sharpie and wrote “T and Z’s Sensory Board” across the top just for fun. If you were making it as a learning tool for older kids you could write the letters of the alphabet or words you want them to practice so they can reference them while they play. It’s easy to make letters and shapes by dragging your finger across the bag or pushing down on the gel. Make sure your child is only using their fingers, though, as any sort of sharp implement would pierce the bag- and then so much for my promise of “no mess”!
We tried it out for tummy time right away and it was a hit!
If you liked making the sensory bags, “Hands on as We Grow” has an amazing collection of ideas Here!
Check out my list of other DIY toys you can make here!
What would you use a squishy colorful sensory board for? Let me know in the comments!
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This toy is intended to be used with adult supervision, especially with babies and toddlers. For more information please see my full Safety Disclaimer.