Making sensory bags is very easy and they are lots fun. This squishy sparkly sensory bag is made of a similar set of ingredients to the ones we used to make our sparkly gel dough and it gives a great squishy result that’s great for tactile sensory input. It offers fun tactile sensory play without the mess.
To make this sensory bag, you will need:
- Large zip lock bag (we used Ikea brand, but you can buy from many places very cheaply)
- Duct tape to seal
- 1 Un-used nappy / diaper (or Gelli Baff if you have available)
- Tinsel (optional)
- Food Colouring (optional)
As mentioned, the substance is similar to the one used in our squishy gel dough but it’s also quite similar to this sensory snow that we made.
You will get the texture to your sensory bag by using an absorbent polymer to take in a lot of the water and turn it into a squishy gel. That’s what the diaper is for since using the insides of the nappy / diaper lining is a really cheap and easy way to do this. If you have any worries about your child handling the “chemicals” inside the diaper then no need to worry here since it’s all locked inside the bag so they will not have any direct contact with it anyway. The materials are safe to touch, but not taste safe at all so this is a better option for younger children who still explore by tasting.
How to make this sparkly squishy sensory bag
- Take one clean unused nappy or diaper and rip it open. Take all the inside part (you will find some crystals or powder stuff right inside it, which looks like grains of salt). Take all of it and pour it into your ziplock bag. If your child has moved up a size and you still have a couple left from old smaller packets, then this is a great way to use up those spares.
- When you have poured in the absorbent polymer from the inside of the nappy, then add some water to the bag. (do feel free to use a packet of Sodium Polyacrylate for your absorbant polymer instead, if you have this available instead)
- Add some glitter and some drops of food colouring
- Now close the bag (don’t tape it yet), and squish it all up. You will see the water absorb and the whole substance becomes squishy. The colour and glitter should spread through the mixture, but keep squishing until you’re happy with it.
- If the mixture looks too firm and there is not enough movement in your gel, then re-open the bag and add a little more water (Just hold the ziplock bag under the tap is the easiest way to add the water) and then squish again until you’re happy.
- Once it looks ready, then place it flat and carefully squeeze it to remove most of the air from the bag before sealing. You don’t want too much air trapped inside after it’s been taped otherwise it might pop, and it won’t be easy to push around the gel within the sensory bag.
- Once the air has been removed then add duct tape all around the opening of the bag to prevent leaks, and it’s ready to play.
With this sensory bag, it’s best played with flat down on a table or the ground, because if taped up to a wall or window, then the material tends to flow down to the bottom of the bag. This picture also gives you an idea of the type of consistency you’re aiming for with the mixture – although slightly less liquid than this is fine, you do get a bit of variation when making these and we’ve had ones that are a little firmer and they also work fine.
Now all you have to do is play with it! It feels very squidgy and squishy and feels quite cold to touch. Children can explore the feel of the materials pushing it around the bag and squishing with their hands. It is quite relaxing.
You would need one sensory bag per child, or have the children take it in turns.
If you have a child that’s not keen on getting their hands messy, or is in some way tactile defensive, then sensory bags can be a less intimidating way to get them to explore textures. But it’s normally fun for all children too – regardless of sensory needs.
You can go with whatever colours you prefer. We added glitter and some chopped tinsel just for a bit of extra sparkle.
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