We have been doing some op-shopping lately to collect bits and pieces for our loose parts activities and to set up a variety of invitations to play in our newly organised playroom. After hearing my plans to set up an ice-cream shop in the water trolley as our next sensory tub activity the children have been quite keen to get rid of the popsticks and matchsticks and move on to cotton wool ball ice-cream right away.
Cotton wool balls are a cheap base for a sensory tub and lend themselves well to being transferred by tongs, scoops or little fingers and the addition of some marbles, jewels and beads for toppings gave it a fun aspect. A few plastic Sundae cups, swizzle sticks, icecream scoops and sequins allowed for some interesting creations.
Having the sensory tub right next to the pretend play home corner area meant that the children could expand into dramatic play and they soon opened an ice-cream shop. There aren’t many play activities that can keep everyone from the 13 year old to the 2 year old happily occupied together, but this did the trick.
The addition of a menu board ($2 from Ikea), a roll of receipt paper from an old cash register, a couple of clip boards and some plastic tokens for money provided the stimulus for lots of copywork, writing and maths as the children wrote out orders and receipts and charged each other for their extremely expensive ice-cream Sundaes.
An old squeeze honey container was amongst the favourite items, as were the dark brown beads for chocolate drops.
Extra products such as paper doughnuts and choc-chip biscuits were created to add to the repertoire and the menu was rewritten to include several new additions.
When you charge for every ice block, choc drop, scoop of ice-cream and berry that goes into the Sundaes it makes for some good maths practice.
This was the original sensory tub that was offered as a provocation for play. The children thought of the many other additions and made it far better by the time they had finished.