I looked everywhere for some life-like sea creatures that were large enough for baby to safely play with and couldn't find anything that was affordable. I decided to look for some squirter-type sea creatures that K could also use during bath time, and couldn't find anything that was right. I was about to give up, when I stopped by my local Dollar Tree. Low and behold, I found some amazing packs of ocean themed squirters. They came in packs of three and had everything: sharks, whales, crabs, dolphins, fish, seahorses, octopuses, coral, sea turtles, sea snails, etc. I was so impressed that I bought a ton of them! They were absolutely perfect for this project, and we can use them in sensory baths and at regular bath time for learning and fun. I would say that was a pretty great and inexpensive investment! I whipped up the gelatin and poured it into a glass dish. I placed the sea creatures throughout and put in the refrigerator to set. When it was time to do the activity, the sea creatures were good and stuck in there, with half of their bodies out of the gelatin. It came out exactly the way I wanted it to!
I sat Kingston down in front of the dish. He observed it for about 3 seconds before he reached for the blue octopus. I explained to him that this was the "ocean" and pointed out the sea creatures. I pointed at and named each one as he dug into this new sticky sensory medium! I would recommend putting down a splat mat because this project will definitely get messy and get everywhere.
He was very intrigued by the Jell-O. He tentatively touched it at first. Then, he reached out his hands and raked his fingers through the gelatin disturbing a handful of it. He brought a handful of it close to him to check it out, dropping chunks of blue all over himself in the process. He squeezed his hands tightly together and laughed as the gelatin oozed out through the cracks in his little fingers.
As he removed each creature, we went over what they were. I made motions or sounds for each one. For the crab I got my pincers out and snapped at Kingston with my claw hands. He loved that! I also made some pretty realistic dolphin noises. Mama's a bit wild!
It was only a matter of time before he tried to taste it. I am not too keen on Kingston eating Jell-O or sugar in general, but I figured a lick or tiny sample of it would be alright. I was glad that I had the real sugar version instead of sugar free because I would prefer him having real sugar than aspartame and artificial sugars. His "taste" was nothing more than a few licks at the bottom of a sea creature and he was done. This activity was much too exciting to waste time eating it!
This sensory activity actively utilized all five senses. Kingston saw the vibrant color of the "ocean" and the sea creatures, felt the contrast between the slippery, sticky Jell-O and the hard, smooth sea creatures, heard the squish of the gelatin as he trapped it between his fingers, tasted the sweetness of the Jell-O during his few tentative licks, and smelled the fruity scent of blue raspberry wafting up from the dish.
He played with the gelatin for quite some time. I got right in there with him and together we squished and jiggled the vibrant Jell-O and took turns putting the creatures in and out of the imaginary water.
K loved when I took both of his hands in mine and squished all of the slippery Jell-O between the two of us. He giggled and laughed and blue gelatin flew all over the place. As he grabbed wiggly clumps to drop on the splat mat, he dropped it all over himself. His little belly, legs, and toes were speckled with glistening ocean particles.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of his precious blue Jell-O covered toes!
This was one of my favorite sensory plays that we have ever done. I loved watching Kingston's reaction and seeing how much fun he was having. He truly loved this, and I have a feeling we will be doing this activity again with other themes. I like to do a search for similar activities after I do something with K, and was happily surprised to find other blue Jell-O ocean worlds via Pinterest. I love this one from Crystal at Growing a Jeweled Rose that she set up for her girls in the bathtub! I also love this awesome one from Cerys at Rainy Day Mum which also utilizes other edible materials!! Great minds think alike for sure! I can't wait to see what other fun things we can do with gelatin in the future.