DIY "I Spy" Sensory Bags

At then end of each session of Intellidance™ Babies I put together a sensory play class. During this class I set up different stations around the studio that allow the caregivers and babies a chance to discover, explore and play with a variety of materials. My stand bys are finger painting, tunnels, vestibular tops, ball pit, instruments, sensory balls, and puppets. Each session I also try to include something new. When I found this DIY Sensory Bag on Pinterest I knew I had my new station!

What you Need:

  • Hair Gel (we bought green but you could add food coloring to clear to make any color of your choice)
  • Heavy duty freezer bags
  • Duct tape
  • Glitter, half marbles, sequins, small soft rubber creatures, googly eyes, etc. (pretty much anything that wont melt in the hair gel and will not puncture the bag)

How to make it:

Start by squeezing your hair gel into the freezer bag. I used about 1-1.5 bottles per bag.

Next, fill your bag with your treasures and glitter. One note on glitter: use sparingly unless you want a more obscured view. Bria made one bag that is well, glitterific! It definitely takes more spying to find things in her sensory bag ;)

Seal your bag, carefully trying to remove as much air as possible to avoid air bubbles. Gently massage hair gel and treasures together and smooth flat. 

As suggested on Plain Vanilla Mom, I reinforced the seal and sides by using duct tape. I found this to be the trickiest part of the process. I had trouble keeping my duct tape straight. I'll admit I asked Chris to do the duct tape on the last two days. He was much more successful than I. 

Even though I made these for my Intellidance™ Babies classes, Bria and Malia had a great time exploring and playing with them. At first they were completely entertained just to squish the treasures around in the goo. As one mom in my class said today "It's gross fun! Kids love that!". A wonderful tactile experience indeed!

After the girls had time to squish and mush to their hearts content we turned the sensory bags into a game of I Spy. Each of us would take a turn "spying" a common object or colour in our bag while the others would hunt through their bags' treasures to find it. The game became more complex when we started spying multiple items and the girls decided we should move those items into a line. Little did they realize they had also turned the game into a great fine motor activity similar to this one.

I think this activity could also make a great centre in an early education classroom by creating themed bags. Malia is working on her letter recognition so I am on the hunt for foam letters to make an Alphabet bag! You could do the same thing with numbers, colours, shapes, etc!

I was also pleased that my sensory bags were a hit with the  Intellidance™ Babies as well! Here is a few pictures of Baby H exploring his sensory bag both on his tummy and in a seated position.

Most of the babies enjoyed exploring the bags on lying on their tummies. The bags are fairly heavy which makes them difficult for the babies to hold in a seated position and they can get much closer to the objects they are exploring while on their tummies. Another great way to make tummy time fun!