Sensory Balloons

imageA great idea from Naomi Claxton. Naomi likes to set her toddler ‘invitations to play’, we think these are wonderful ideas! This is a little fiddly to set up, but once made they will last for months. Great for exploring textures without getting messy!

You will need:

  • A packet of balloons
  • A funnel – if you don’t have one, try rolling up some cardboard
  • Filling – try a selection from
    o Sugar
    o Sea salt
    o Tea leaves from inside a tea bag
    o Cornflour
    o Shaving gel
    o Lentils
    o Rice
    o Quinoa
    o Water Beads
    o Playdough
    o Golden Syrup
    o Coffee

What to do:

  1. Set this one up while your toddler is sleeping!
  2. Stretch your balloon gently with your fingers, and blow it up a little way before letting the air out.
  3. Take your funnel and gently slide it into the balloon.
  4. Start spooning in a little of your filling – for example rice. You might have to stretch the neck of the balloon and give it a little jiggle here and there.
  5. When it is as full as you think it will get, take out the funnel and tie the neck firmly.
  6. With golden syrup and shaving gel, I squirted directly into the balloon without using the funnel. Shaving gel worked especially well, and smells really nice!
  7. For water beads, you can poke them in through the neck of the balloon one by one. They lend themselves well to a long thin balloon if there are any in your pack.

How to play:

  • Set the balloons out on a tray.
  • Encourage your little one to handle them, and talk about how they feel, using lots of different texture words.
  • You could encourage your child to sniff the balloons.
  • You could also talk about the colour of the balloons.
  • For older children, you could start to talk about what might be inside the balloons. You could even put out one of the fillers, such as a small bowl of rice and ask them which balloon they think it is in.
  • Try to discourage your little one from putting them near their mouths in case they try to bite the balloon and you end up with a leak.
  • These lasted several months in a tin before I decided to throw them away and make some more another time.
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