This morning I boiled up some spaghetti and tossed it in a tub along with some plastic insects for some sensory play. The children enjoyed exploring the cool, slimy, slippery, wiggly spaghetti with all their senses. Baby F stretched it and tasted it, Tabitha pretended that her spider was making webs and Aaron noticed that it goes sticky after a while unless you add a bit of water.
By this afternoon the children had lost interest in the spaghetti, so I squirted in some paint and gave them all paintbrushes. Baby F is generally quite reluctant to join in with sensory play, but she seemed to like the fact that all the mess was contained and soon got stuck in.
Tabitha stirred her spaghetti very vigorously and was excited to discover that she had made it turn brown. She continued doing this each time I added more paint.
I gave them each a piece of paper and showed them how to press it down on top of the spaghetti to make a print. The swirling patterns are really striking!
Recently a friend and I were talking about using food in play. She lent me a book which included a short article about not using food for sensory play, because it is a scarce resource in many parts of the world and playing with it reduces its value and encourages wastefulness. The FCCERS framework which I will be assessed against if I become a funded childminder also states that food should not be used for sensory play but doesn’t really give any reasoning behind this. It’s American and lots of it isn’t relevant to childcare in the UK, so I dismissed the food thing until my friend mentioned it. It does seem wrong that we can paint food and then throw it away, when others don’t even have enough to eat. At the moment I am still using food in play, because it is cheap and safe for babies, but it’s definitely given me a lot to think about. What are your views on playing with food? Are there any good alternatives for sensory play with babies and younger toddlers? I’d love to hear your opinions and suggestions.