Sometimes there are days when the only goal is to keep my daughter busy, so that she doesn’t have a chance to spin off into a meltdown. Today was one of those days. When we are having a meltdown day, I like to have lots of easy-prep activities handy like this super easy pattern block sensory bag.
After we had played with our transportation dominoes, read some books, built towers with the foam blocks, put together some foam puzzles and a plethora of other activities, we needed some more meltdown-safe things to fill our morning. So we created this, a perfect sensory activity for preschoolers!
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Materials needed for the Pattern Block Sensory Bag:
There are lots of pattern block activities that are fun and engaging for children. A hair gel sensory bag is a super high-interest learning activity for young children.
To make the sensory bag:
Open the gallon-size zip top bag and fill with the clear hair gel. We used all of a 20 oz. bottle of gel. I’ve included a link to show you what it is, but you can usually purchase a bottle at a local dollar store.
Then add some plastic pattern blocks to the bag of gel. I was aiming for 4-5 of each shape, but my preschooler wanted to participate in the set up, so I’m not sure how many we ended up with. I avoided including the skinny rhombus because I thought it might be too pointy.
Then close and seal the bag.
If she is having a really rough day, I would either put duck tape across the seal of the bag or place the bag into a second bag. This will help prevent the bag being punctured and the hair gel making a mess.
Should you choose to use a second bag make sure that the writing on the outside of the bags is on the same side, so that you have one clear side to view the contents. Another hack for when you want to use sensory play in Ziploc bags is to use nail polish remover to erase the logo!
I adore sensory bags for lots of reasons:
Sensory bags in preschool are great for non-messy play: kids can squeeze them, throw them, push on them without fear of breaking something. This particular activity is a great sensory activity for toddlers as well! It is safe and stimulates their sense of touch.
They catch kids’ attention and can calm them down. Use them to help children reduce stress and anxiety during a rough day. It is also a relaxing activity to use as a brain break after a period of heavy work.
Bags, such as this one, are great for fine-motor skills while Shiloh pushes around the objects inside the gel. You can use a variety of interesting shapes and materials to create various sensory experiences. You can add food coloring, use pom poms, beads, small animal figures and more!
Related Activity: Fruit and Vegetable Hunt Farm Sensory Bin
Fine-motor skills are especially important to use with Shiloh’s Rett Syndrome diagnosis. While most girls diagnosed with Rett cannot use their hands at all by age five, Shiloh still has full use of hers.
She has a few quirks like layering fingers on top of each other, but in hopes of stalling future skill regression, we work to keep her hands very busy. Sensory play activities are so important for skill development and learning!
Other ways to use the Pattern Block Gel Sensory Bag for fun and learning:
- Count the shapes: There are so many ways to incorporate math and counting with this bag! How many shapes are there in all? How many hexagons? Can you create a group of 5 with triangles and squares?
- Sort the shapes: have children move and push shapes into groups. Can they find all the triangles? What about all of the squares?
- Create pictures using the shapes: Give children challenges to complete! Can they use the shapes provided to make a house? Or offer open-ended options: can they use the shapes to create something that moves?
- Name the shapes: Learning shapes is an important skill in preschool. Talk about the names of each shape. How many sides do each have? How are they similar and different?
Some of our Favorite Shape Books for Kids:
We can’t live without these!
Once your child’s creativity is sparked with this fun activity, take it a step further with these engaging resources:
My First SHAPES Padded Board BookRound Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes (A Latino Book of Concepts)Tangled: A Story About ShapesMouse ShapesShapesShape by ShapeCaptain Invincible and the Space Shapes (MathStart 2)Circle, Square, MooseThis Is a Book of ShapesPerfect Square