It was shaping up to be one of those very long days. The ones where the children’s concentration span for any activity is at most ten minutes, where the refrain of “we want the telly on” punctuates at two minute intervals, and tempting as it is you just know that won’t hold their attention for long either. N in particular has been restless recently, needing a lot of attention and wanting to flit from one activity to the next without finishing the first.
Some of our activities recently have been quite labour intensive, but not this one – the washing had mounted up to an intolerable level, and I needed something to amuse them while I tackled it.
I didn’t know whether this would be a success, but it was – we made a very quick and easy Autumn-themed sensory box, which entertained all three children for over an hour, including the baby.
It started with a box of soft cornflakes that I’ve been wondering what to do with for weeks, not feeling very inspired by cornflake cakes. Then it struck me what perfect crunchy Autumn leaves they would make. I wasn’t sure the 3/4 packet we had would fill the box adequately and I thought it might look a bit pathetic, but there were plenty. I added the coloured pumpkin seeds we had from our pumpkin play (post on that coming soon!), a plant pot filled with pine cones, some cups and spoons in Autumnal colours (for scooping and pouring), a few laminated leaves from our kind hands tree and voila!
Before I had even finished putting it together (which took all of three minutes), L and N were in the kitchen desperate to get their little hands on the box. Maybe one day I will stop being surprised by just how much they love these boxes and how much value they have. Even a bright five year old, who can read and write and wonder what cavemen ate and why there is no life on Jupiter, clearly needs this sort of play and is stimulated by it – who knew scooping and measuring and pouring cornflakes had so much to offer?
Baby F loved it too. She hasn’t been keen on the wetter, messier sensory play we have done but this was a hit. Once I realised she couldn’t reach into the box very easily I gave her a handful of cornflakes in a shallow tray, and a pine cone to explore. the cornflakes were perfect as it didn’t matter if she ate some (ideally not the pine cone though!). She seemed to like the crunchy texture and it held her attention for ages.
L and N really did spend a long time just scooping and pouring. There was a sprinkling of imaginary play involving picnics and feeding babies but they didn’t need it, the box was enough for them! The bickering and teasing evaporated as if by magic, and co-operative play developed!
They really enjoyed filling the cups with cornflakes and seeds, counting the pinecones (L even started doing sums with his!). N requested some brushes to “do cleaning”, so two pastry brushes were added to the box. They had fun at one point sticking cornflakes between the kernels of the pine cones to “decorate a Christmas tree” – brilliant!
Another bonus to this activity was minimal mess, and the sweeping up of the cornflakes seemed to be just as popular as the box itself – L and N co-operated on this too. the Autumn sensory box literally turned our day, and our moods around completely – magic!
This is what the box looks like now (I think digging to find the scattered seeds will be fun):