When playing, one thing that I really try to focus on and help my boys do is visually attend to an activity. By visually attending, I mean having them visually focus on certain details or parts. We also incorporate labeling and commenting in activities like this. I really believe that by working early on visual attention it will help them later in their educational endeavors. Paying attention takes practice!
One great way to get some good practice on visually attending is by doing activities such as "I Spy". We have played I Spy in several different ways - looking in books, magazines, on the road and in sensory bins. But, a great way to make a versatile I Spy activity is by creating an I Spy Sensory Bag. It's not only portable, but can be used in a variety of ways. Plus, it's super duper cheap and easy! Big shout out and thanks to my neighbor and great friend, Lindsay for being my demonstrator and hand model. She said she'd cause me physical harm if I used her face in the photos. Just sayin'.
The supplies I used for this particular activity/project were:
- Glad Ziploc Freezer Bags (you can use store brand, but Glad's bags are thicker and stronger so that's what I prefer)
- Duct Tape
- Cheapo Hair Gel
- Pony Beads
- Pom Poms
- Gel Food Coloring
- Plastic Bugs
- Nail Polish Remover
You can really put anything in these bags. I've used mylar confetti and small animals in other bags I've made as well! The mylar confetti can be found in the party aisle and I really think it's a fun addition.
How I assemble the bags...
Because the freezer bags have pre-printed labels on them, we decided to take them off with a little bit of acetone/nail polish remover. We just used a paper towel and gently wiped the print off.
Next, we filled the freezer bags with cheap ol' hair gel. Since I found that it was cheaper to buy it in these plastic jars, we used spoons to transfer it to the bags. We both added a little bit of water to thin out the gel and make it a little more squishy. AND, Don't throw away the jars! You can create a whole other activity with them!
Next, we mixed in some gel food coloring. Lindsay picked red and I picked blue! Just mix by kneading and kneading until it's all mixed in. If your kiddos are helping you, give them the bag (sealed of course) and let them do the mixing. Great fine motor practice!
Next, we put beads, pom poms, lots of glitter and a couple of plastic bugs. After you've assembled the innards, just zip that baby up and get the duct tape out.
I am pretty sure you know how to duct tape the sides of a bag, but I added photos of how we did it. We applied half of the strip to one side, folded it over and applied the other half to the other side. We double taped the top of the bag JUST IN CASE.
I kid you not, that's the entire assembly!
|Brady and his new I Spy Sensory Bag|
How I use the bags...
- Bring it with you in the stroller, car or grocery cart. It keeps the kids busy looking for things and just squishing it around is fun!
- Bring it with you when you eat out. It is a great activity to do while waiting for your food.
- Use it as an impromptu weighted lap pad. Some times I cannot find our weighted lap pad so I've used this to place in the boys' laps to help keep them still while doing seated activities like puzzles or coloring.
- Find and spell names/words. I have placed letter beads with the letters for their names and we push them around to find and spell their names out.
- Make the bags without fillers, just using hair gel, food coloring and glitter. Great for practice pre-writing strokes like finger tracing letters or shapes. Can also just fill with tempera paint if you have that on hand, as well (make sure to really, really seal it when using paint).
- Put them in the fridge and use them on a hot day in the carseat or stroller (on their laps) to keep them cool!
|Lindsay's lil' man "W" enjoying his new I Spy Sensory Bag|
I hope you have fun with this activity! I've used these bags in so many fun ways! Let me know if you find other ways to use it, too!