I love messy play. I especially love messy play when I can easily contain and clean it up afterwards, which usually isn’t that hard. This activity was no exception. I got the inspiration for the Jell-O Ocean world on Growing a Jeweled Rose, which truly has some amazing ideas for sensory plan (will be doing many of these in the future). She had done the activity in the bathtub but I had planned to do it outside instead., although the bathtub idea would be even easier for cleanup.
I purchased some plastic ocean creatures at the dollar store -10 for $1 (as well as some dinosaurs, farm animals and snakes so we can do this again some other day). I also bought 2 boxes of generic Jell-O at superstore for 0.69 cents. I had planned to buy sugar-free Jell-O but it contained aspartame so I decided to go with the regular stuff. I quickly prepared the Jell-O in a container that baby Z could easily get his little hands into and then arranged the sea creatures in the Jell-O, stuck it in the fridge and waited for it to set (about an hour, although it took us a few days before we used it).
I set up a tarp outside to place the Jell-O ocean world on and contain the mess. This part is crucial if you are doing this outside because ants LOVE Jell-O! I placed baby Z in front of the container and waited for him to dig in. At first he slapped the Jell-O and his little hands bounced on the surface and he seemed fairly amused until he noticed the ocean creatures buried in the Jell-O. Soon after he dug his fingers into the blue-gooey-goodness he proceeded to cry and cry a lot. I wasn’t sure what the problem was and stuck my hands into the freezing cold Jell-O. Aha – baby Z hates anything cold so I placed it in the sun for about 15 minutes while we explored nature for a bit.
Finally the Jell-O had warmed up and was just right for baby Z’s sensitive hands. He dug right in, squishing the blue goo, he tasted it as I knew he would, but was far more interested in collecting the plastic toys within. I let him explore the ocean world for as long as he wanted. He eventually crawled away and found some leaves to play with but he came back to it. Finally it was close to nap time so we cleaned up, baby Z had a bath in his little outdoor pool and we wrapped up.
This was a great activity, he didn’t eat much so I didn’t have to worry about the sugar and it entertained him for a long time. I love that he got to use his senses and explore different textures and I named all the sea creatures as he picked them up. We will definitely do this again!
Note: the blue Jell-O did stain his hands but some soap and water got it off really easily.