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Elmer Sensory Play

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

I set about making a batch of rainbow rice and used our black tray to spread out the small amounts I made up. Once the rice was all placed out like that it reminded me right away of Elmer the patchwork elephant. It's a story we have been enjoying through the day as my daughter has the collection of stories. We got the collection for £10 in a local school book fair. 10 books for £10!
Have you visited our brand new shop? Filled with fun, educational play resources?

I am sharing on our stories on Instagram lots of simply play ideas so make sure you're following us over there too. This week this post went CRAZY over there with lots of people saying they were going to try it out too.

How to colour your own rice tutorial below....

I left the rice drying on the tray and printed out a picture of Elmer to sit onto of the rice. I added colourful pom poms around the tray along with lots of scoops and bowls so the children could use their imaginations whilst they played. 

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

I often get messages from people who say 'I couldn't set this up for my children, within minutes it would all be messed up'. 

This is what we want to happen. 

In our eyes we may see it as 'messing the activity up' but in their world they are exploring textures, experimenting with cause and effect and are using their imaginations and creativity to learn. Once we understand this we can fully embrace the 'mess' that unfolds and appreciate it for the play and learning that it is. 

I grabbed a few of the Elmer stories too so that the children could access the stories as they played along if they wanted to. Turned out that they grabbed the stories to set and read once they had finished with the sensory activity. 

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

During this activity we spoke about colours, quantities and they enjoyed some cake/baking role play. My children turn everything into baking so I added a few cupcake liners to the activity too. 

The little tools that I had popped around the tray all encourage fine motor. Working on the control and skills they have. We sell a range of tools perfect for play set ups like this in our shop

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

They loved it and spent so long filling and emptying the containers. We explored why children love doing this in our Jars and Waterbeads post a couple of weeks ago. 

Lets see this activity in action:

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

It was no suprize that the activity turned into cake making. My 3 love baking and these sensory activities always turn into them being creating and making delicious things to 'eat'.

Now I'm sure you're curious to know how we set about colouring the rice. I have seen lots of tutorials where people add the rice to plastic bags. I wanted to avoid this if possible so I went about pouring the rice into a large mixing dish that I use for cooking. 

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

I always use wilton food colouring. I was forever buying the supermarket liquid colourings that cost around £1 a time. The colours were never very vibrant and I would often have to use a whole bottle at a time. I had seen lots of excellent reviews on the Wilton gel colouring so thought I would give it a try myself and I haven't looked back since. It's excellent. You need the smallest amount. I tend to just scoop a pea sized amount onto the end of a spoon to use and it gives the most beautiful colours. 

I used a splash of white vinegar too which helped to spread the colour around and hold the colour onto the rice. Initially you could smell the white vinegar but after a little time the smell completely went. I mixed the colouring around by just using a spoon and working it through all the rice. 

As the rice was slightly wet I lay it on a tray to dry. It didn't take very long. I used a fork to fork the rice to make sure the air made its way through all of it. Within the hour we were playing with the activity. 

Remember to come and see us on Instagram too for simple play ideas.

Elmer Sensory Play play ideas for early years

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See all our activities in action via our channel. We throw in a little family life too so you may just find out a little more about the family behind Learning an Exploring Through Play.

Do you live in the UK? Are you always on the look out for new, fun places to visit? We would love you to be apart of our outdoor exploring group. Come and share your own ideas or be inspired to get outdoors by others.

Other posts to check out on Learning and Exploring Through Play:

I love you to pieces Suncatcher Card    Melted Snowman Family    Rainbow Streamer Craft

Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Recycled Valentines Crafts for Preschoolers    Sensory Winter Play for Preschoolers

Mark Making with Kinetic Sand    Plastic Easter Egg Art Ideas    Space Themed Sensory Play Small World
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