DIY Sensory Play – Jiggly “Ice” Art

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By: Stephanie Boron, M.S., CCC-SLP (Speech and Language Pathologist)

We’ve got a fun indoor winter-themed sensory play idea for you! This project takes some adult prep, so it’s ideal for keeping little minds and hands busy on a snowy day stuck at home. Follow these simple steps for sensory fun! 

We Need:

  • 4 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 4 cups of water
  • Measuring cup
  • 1 heat-safe bowl
  • 1 stirring spoon
  • 1 pan
  • Stove
  • Refrigerator
  • Paper towels
  • Food coloring or colored fruit juices (mixed with water in bowls)

Optional Items:

  • Eye droppers/pipettes (available on Amazon or Michaels)
  • Fork, pipe cleaners, or other items suitable for poking
  • Tray

Grown-Up Steps:

Grown-Up Step 1: Boil 3 cups of water.

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Grown-Up Step 2: Pour 1 cup of water into a bowl.

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Grown-Up Step 3: Sprinkle 4 packets of unflavored gelatin over the water in the bowl and let it sit for about 1 minute.

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Grown-Up Step 4: Carefully pour the boiling water into the bowl.

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Grown-Up Step 5: Stir until all of the gelatin is dissolved.

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Grown-Up Step 6: Carefully pour the mixture into a pan of whatever size and shape you’d like. The smaller the container, the thicker the gelatin will be in the end.

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Grown-Up Step 7: Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Depending on the age of your child, this might be a fun process to check in on together as time goes by. Once the liquid has cooled, you can use a spoon, or even your finger to poke at your concoction and talk about how it’s changing. It may be sticky/gooey at first, changing to rubbery/squishy later on.

Grown-Up Step 8: Once the gelatin is completely set, carefully remove your jiggly “ice” from the pan and place it on top of paper towel on a surface that can get messy. A cookie sheet or tray are good options since the edges can catch any excess food coloring or juice during the play. Don’t worry if the gelatin doesn’t come out perfectly. It’s pretty likely to get broken up during the fun anyway.

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Grown-Up Step 9: Prepare some bowls with food coloring and water or colored fruit juice. Gather eye droppers/pipettes.

Now, time for the fun part!

Time to play!

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Kid Step 1: Squeeze any color into an eye dropper and poke it right into the jiggly “ice”. Squeeze the eye dropper and see what happens.

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Kid Step 2: Keep going with more colors.

Kid Step 3: Poke the “ice”. Pull it apart. Jiggle it around. If your grown up says it’s ok, you can even take a bite. Everything is edible! Poke the “ice” with pipe cleaners or forks, then add some color on top. You can even put chunks of the “ice” right into the bowls to see what happens. Try mixing colors. Just have fun!

Note for Grown-Ups: Some kids might not be ready to touch the “ice”. This is a big sensory experience! You can model by touching and talking about your creation.

Kid Step 4: When you’re all done, hold on to the paper towel. Hang it up to dry for keep-able art.

We’d love to see pictures from your project! Share a comment or email us at sboronslp@gmail.com.

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