HOW TO MAKE SENSORY LETTER BAGS
Today, we’re letting the children explore letter formation with their senses, using our easy to make DIY Sensory Letter Bags.
This is a great activity to assist with fine motor development, cognitive recognition of the alphabet and a tactile, sensory way for little hands to explore the shapes, curves and lines that form each individual letter.
During this activity, your child will also benefit from practising hand-eye coordination and lateral and bi-lateral movements of the wrist, which will assist with early writing skills.
For children with low muscle tone, the small amount of resistance created by pushing/moving the jelly with their fingers and hands will assist in gently developing muscle tone and dexterity.
Plus it’s also just squishy, colourful and fun.
1-3 years old: Keep a focus on the movement, textures, colours and exploring the activity using their tactile senses. Encourage your child to explore with their senses by asking them what the bag feels like; what can they notice when they look inside the jelly; can they create different sensations by using their fingers or their hands to move the jelly.
3-6 years old: Ask your child to move the jelly around with their hands and prompt them to describe what they feel, see or sense when touching the bag. Allow your child to explore the activity and try to find the hidden letters. Once they have found the letter, ask them to trace along the outline and try to identify the letter, describe its shape or even prompt them to identify the sound each letter makes.
6-9 years old: For a 6-9 year-old:
repeat the above exercises to encourage them to explore the sensory bag; taking note of any sensations, textures, colours or shapes. Once they have traced and identified the letters, ask them which is the lowercase and uppercase letter. You could ask them to look around their environment and find any objects starting with the sound of each letter or ask them to think of a word using the letters sound and apply this word to a full sentence.
To Make Your Sensory Letter Bags You Will Need;
1. Clear gelatin powder and food colouring or you can simply use Jelly.
2. Natural items gathered by your child to be used in bags. We worked with some beautiful flower petals, herbs and berries in this blog. Remember to bring a small basket or bag with you when collecting treasures from the garden.
3. Snap Lock Bags. We used these bags here from our local supermarket and simply cut them down a little to size.
4. Tape to seal the top of the bag.
5. Alphabet activity sheets, you can download them here
We chose to work with a selection of natural flora that our children gathered on their morning walk and food-based items from the pantry for this activity, however, you can create lots of different versions using glitter, sequins and small animal shapes. Be creative.
MAKING YOUR BAGS
Firstly, print out our sensory letter bag activity sheet here. We’ve included the full alphabet
Prepare your jelly or gelatin mix and allow to set. I prepared our Jelly the afternoon prior with the assistance of Miss two.
Gather all of your materials for inside the bags. As mentioned above we chose to work with natural flowers, seeds and leaves which gave the activity a nice sensory experience and also provided a secondary activity for Miss two to gather a beautiful selection of natural flora on our morning walk. Be sure to take a small basket with you!
You’ll need to prepare your jelly next. You’ll want the jelly to be soft and pliable for small hands so we mashed our jelly with a potato masher. I allowed Miss two to mash the jelly also. The simple act of pushing, turning and moving the potato masher through the jelly is a great opportunity to develop fine motor skills and strengthening the hands and wrists.
Before adding your materials to the jelly (petals, seeds and leaves) I would recommend breaking this down into smaller pieces so they are able to be moved around easily in the bag. This is another great activity for small hands to help with.
It’s now time to add your jelly mixture to the snap lock bag! We filled our bag roughly ¼ full. You’ll want to ensure the bag is not too full as your child will have trouble tracing the letters.
Remove all the air from the bag and seal with tape.
IT’S TIME TO TRACE
Place your chosen letter from our downloadable activity sheets on a flat surface and pop your sensory bag over the top. Make sure you even out the jelly so it’s lightly covering the letters.
Ask your child to explore the activity, notice the colours, the sensations and the hidden flowers and materials in the bag. Allow them the time to interact, be curious and ask them some simple guiding questions such as ‘what colours can you see?’. Allowing your child to explore first is a crucial step in learning and development.
Once your child is ready, ask them to gently trace the letters with their fingers. They will naturally follow the curves and shapes on the letter as they go so there is no need to intervene as the child's awareness and stage of learning will guide them.
For small children, allow them to explore and focus on the sensory side of the activity. The simple act of moving and squishing the jelly around naturally develops the elementary foundations for handwriting by strengthening hand, wrist and finger muscles and hand-eye coordination.
For older children, focus on tracing of the letters and gently prompting them with questions to help them identify which letter they are tracing. You can also encourage your child to learn the sounds of each letter and ask them to list things that start with the ‘a’ sound.
Don’t worry if your child doesn’t do the activity correctly straight away. Allow them the opportunity to make mistakes and explore the letters in a way that feels right for them. Remember, learning is meant to be FUN!
I hope you LOVE our sensory letter bags as much as we do. We’d LOVE to see some photos of your little ones learning and playing. You can share these with us on Instagram and Facebook using our hashtag #crayonrocks