Friday, July 5, 2013

Sensory Play - Baked Cotton Balls

I seriously love playing with my boys. Since school is out and summer is in full swing, I'm finding myself wracking my brain keeping things interesting for them. So, I've been exploring so many new sensory activities both inside and outside.

I have been toying with baked cotton balls for the last week or so. They are kind of odd - hard as a rock, but light as a feather. They are also a very versatile play material. We've played with them in several different ways. I've used them in my desert sensory bins. We've even tossed them around in a friendly game of catch. I've used them as a toss object/marker in Hopscotch. Painting them is super fun, too!

But, being boys, my sons like hammering and cracking them open. Heck, even stomping on them and crushing them to pieces seems to be something they love to do! Way to get that aggression out! Once cracked open, these baked cotton balls pull apart, creating a whole other sensory activity.

Another way to use these in a very messy play activity is to add them to a water sensory bin. When wet, as you would expect, these baked cotton balls eventually get goopy and slimy when they start to dissolve. Then pull the cotton apart. When wet, cotton feels a whole lot different than when dry.

They are fairly easy to make and most likely you already have everything you need to make them. If not, the ingredients are extremely affordable! All you need is 4 ingredients - flour, water, food dye and cotton balls!

Mix the flour and water in a 1:1 ratio. I normally just mix 1 cup flour to 1 cup water. After the flour mixture is mixed and all the lumps are worked out, add the food coloring until you reach the desired color. Get the kids to help out! It's a fun, kid-friendly activity to make them!

Drop a few cotton balls in the flour mixture, using two spoons or a fork to coat. I've noticed that with two spoons I get really coated cotton balls, which bake up super hard. If you want cotton balls that are easy to crack, with a thinner coat, use one fork to coat. Place on cookie sheet (I line mine with foil and if I remember, I lightly grease the foil/pan) and bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.

I removed my baked cotton balls and let cool on a paper plate.

Another fun way to bake the cotton balls is into shapes. While still wet with the flour mixture, arrange the cotton balls into whatever shape, letter or design you would like. Make sure that the batter/mixture is touching each other. Bake just like the individual balls.

Hope you have fun with this activity! If you find a new way to use them, let me know!!!

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