Valentines Sensory Play

Valentines Day is almost here! If you hadn’t realised, don’t worry: it’s not until Thursday. You’ve still got time! May I suggest you finish reading this post for some great Valentines sensory inspiration, and then get on it?!

T has been asking me if Valentines Day includes children. Of course! Or at least it does in this house. We always try to do something special to remind the kids how much they are loved. As well as that, I love to do Valentines themed activities with them. Last year I set up this Valentines Addition Activity which T loved! It’s also a perfect example of how kids love to steer their own learning – what I had set up as a general addition activity, T soon turned in to an activity based on doubling numbers.

Last week, I decided to create a quick Valentines sensory tray for the pair of them. At the moment I am finding that sensory trays and playdough are two things that T and A play really well together on. It serves them both in different ways and I just love that it gives us a good hour or so of calm play!

tray with crushed weetabix, heart shaped ice cube tray, red buttons, pegs and tongs

I recently reorganised our craft drawer which included removing all the loose parts and packing them in to a separate box: not a permanent storage solution but it’ll do for now. This meant it was a really quick job to find a load of things to make up the tray!

For this tray I used:

  • Crushed weetabix as the base
  • Numbered heart pegs
  • Red and pink buttons
  • Red and pink pom poms
  • Red lolly sticks
  • Heart shaped sequins
  • A ramekin
  • Some tongs, scoops and a miniature rake

You could replicate this in so many different ways! As an alternative to the weetabix, try: oats, pasta, rice (you could colour this red), lentils, or chickpeas. To this, you could add almost anything! Craft materials, cardboard tubes, pots, spoons, bead strings, decorations – anything you’ve got which is red or heart-shaped and child-safe would work!

What they are learning:

A (1.5 years)

  • Fine motor control. Scooping, filling and emptying
  • Using scientific processes to create and explore. Exploring concepts such as cause and effect, and capacity.
  • Role play. A really enjoys kitchen-based role play and was filling the ramekin and pretending to eat the contents or feed them to me!
  • Taking turns and sharing. We’ve been encouraging A to use the signs for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for a while and he is just starting to use them independently. This was a great activity for him to practise those skills, and it was the first time he was asking T for something he wanted rather than just grabbing it!

T (5.5)

  • Imaginative play.  T is in a phase of role paying lots of cooking and recipe creating. I’m seeing her use all kinds of materials to role play this and this was no different. She spent a lot of time creating ‘pies’ in the ramekin, chatting as she went and sharing her recipe ideas.
  • Social development. Anyone that knows us knows that T is super patient with her little brother, but as he transitions from babyhood to toddlerhood her patience has been really stretched! This kind of activity where they are playing alongside each other is a great chance for her to practise patience and strategies for dealing with conflict.
  • Creative development. As well as pies, T used the loose parts to make patterns in the sensory tray.

This takes so little time to set up and it’s really fun! Plus, anything you use can be saved for future playtimes. If you have a go, why not share a pic on Instagram with the hashtag #playfulvalentines!

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