Recently we had a sensory program at the library for little ones birth to three years old. To fit with Summer Reading, we made everything outer space themed! You can try recreating these at home, or go in your own direction.
This station was very popular with some of our youngest participants! Babies loved laying on the soft blanket and looking up at the ‘stars.’ To make this, we found a large box and grabbed a string of Christmas lights. After reinforcing the edges of the box with duct tape, we poked holes in the cardboard so we could stick individual lights through. You could create specific constellations, or just fill the space with the lights like we did. Creating the box will take a little time, but it’s well worth the effort!
Asteroid Field Ball Pit
In Star Wars, Han Solo tells C-3PO to never tell him the odds of surviving an asteroid field. Our asteroid field is much more safe! Toss some balls of various sizes into a plastic pool to contain them, and with a little imagination, you’ve got your very own asteroid field. We threw in some pieces of foil blanket for some extra texture, and little ones were delighted. Not only are the asteroid balls fun to play with, they’re a great way to improve motor skills, as well as hand-eye coordination if you take turns rolling them to each other.
Hubble Telescope Light Board Art
For this station, we were inspired by images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. We glued stars onto overhead transparencies, then placed them on a light board. Little ones put different colors of cellophane on the light board and had fun layering them to make new color combinations. The results were beautiful!
Galaxy Calming Bottles
We love sensory bottles, and these were no exception. We used Voss water bottles, but you can use whatever you like as long as it’s sturdy and you can seal it. To stick with our outer space theme, we made one night sky bottle, one inspired by the sun, and one glow in the dark. To make the night and sun ones, we used baby oil, candy coloring dye, lots of glitter and some star-shaped confetti. The glow in the dark bottle is just glow in the dark glue and hot water.
Galaxy Sensory Bags
While the sensory bottles are a delight to look at and play with, these sensory bags make for a fun tactile experience as well. For these, you need zippered plastic bags, cotton balls, vegetable oil, water, glitter, duct tape and tempera paint. We found that quart size bags are a nice manageable size. All you do is layer your materials into the bag, then zip it and squish them around until they condense. You can experiment with different paint colors, but blue and pink will give you the classic purple galaxy look. Once your bag is full and well mixed, zip it up and reinforce the edges with duct tape so it can withstand some play.
Catch a (Sponge) Star
For another tactile experience, try making these sponge stars! All you need is kitchen sponges, scissors and some string or yarn. Cut your sponge in half lengthwise, then cut each of those pieces in half lengthwise again. You should have four sponge strips. Repeat with the other sponge, line up all the strips together, and tie it tightly in the middle with the yarn. These stars are fun for little hands, and you can even try soaking them in water outside for a whole new experience!
To round out our sensory program, we also had foil blankets, rocket tents and space ship puppets. We cut the foil blankets into different sizes, and spread them out in a pile for little ones to explore. Not only are they shiny, but they make excellent crinkly sounds! Babies in particular loved tummy time at this station, and one mom told us this was the longest her baby had held himself up. Look for another baby sensory time program at the library in the fall, but in the meantime, enjoy trying some of these ideas at home or in your classroom!