I am trying to clear the house of a lot of processed food, and had an old box of shells and cheese. You know the gross kind that comes with a pack of processed "cheese food"? Ya, not going to happen. SO, I threw that gross package of "cheese food" out and used the perfectly good shells for sensory play. We also had an old box of couscous - it was one of those pantry items that sits around so long that you are almost afraid to eat it. I thought it would add a nice contrasting texture to the shells, since it is almost like sand. I combined these in a glass dish with some vibrant yellow measuring spoons and one of the containers I use to store Kingston's homemade baby food.
I cleared the area of all toys and set the dish down on the carpet in front of K. In retrospect, I probably should have done this on the hardwood or on a splat mat. It was a bit difficult to vacuum the tiny grains off of our patterned rug. But, regardless, Kingston was immediately very excited that I was giving him some contraband fun to play with!
Please note that pasta shells pose a choking hazard to baby, so as with all sensory activities monitor your infant closely at all times!
Instead of digging right in like I thought he would, he was very cautious at first. He tentatively touched each spoon. He took each spoon out of the dish and set them up on the floor. Then he put them all back in. He picked up the little container and turned it over and over. Then he began interacting with the material itself, and was able to scoop a little bit of the pasta onto his spoon. He flipped it over and watched as it fell back into the bowl. I explained to him what he was playing with, and I dug right in there with him. Once he saw me exploring, he dug his little hands in too.
His first reaction when he touched the couscous was to squeeze it between his fingers. This brought on a series of shivers. He squeezed and shivered for a minute or so before he began to get use to the texture. He would squeeze the grains between his fingers and then immediately drop it. The texture was very new and strange to him. He picked up the pasta shells and placed them on the rug. This was great practice for fine motor skill development.
I began showing him how to use the spoons to scoop and pour. We used the container to make the grains rain down into the bowl. Then I offered him the spoons with the pasta and couscous already on it. He loved taking them and dumping them out.
The scent as we played was intensely nutty. Kingston never put a shell near his mouth, but did try to taste the couscous. He cringed at the texture and quickly spit it out, but it didn't deter him from trying again several times. As he became really comfortable with the material, he began taking big handfuls of couscous and pouring them all over the floor and himself. He was very pleased with the results!
This activity was so simple, but held Kingston's interest for about an hour. I think he would have continued playing, but there was barely anything left in the bowl!
After, I swept up all of the shells and as much couscous as I could and put it in a tupperware to play with again some other time! I vacuumed up the leftovers. We will definitely be doing more of these easy and fun sensory baby play activities. K had a great time!