Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory Tub

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It’s easy to forget about ‘water play’ in the winter months, saving it as something to set up for your child when the sun is out and keeping cool is a must!
By giving your child a little bit of nature indoors, it brings a little bit of that summer spirit into the dark, cold winter days.

So during an afternoon nap, I got to it… emptying the opaque storage tub of the animal themed small world play objects from last week’s play theme, and scavenging the cupboards (I have a lot of crafty bits and pieces that I seem to just accumulate,) for any inspiration. I found a bag of pebbles and a bag of glass beads, so began there. You could also use some coloured fish-tank gravel, depending upon the look you’re after.
Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory TubOf course, supervision will be required not only for the glass beads, but for the play in the water; this is a short-term sensory tub that must be supervised and is not intended to stay out for any period of time.
Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory TubTo provide an invitation to play and for added fun, I then prepared a basket of items that would help ‘Darth’ to play and explore the pond sensory tub.
After giving them a rinse to remove any soapiness, I put ‘Darth’s bath duck and wind-up frog to one side, for him to play with in the pond if he chooses to.
I used a small nest of three funnels bought for less than £1 in the local supermarket, a (clean) fishing net, a mini-colander from his play kitchen (a slotted-spoon would work just as well,) and some plastic ‘tweezers’ and a mini ladle (both from his play kitchen, as part of an IKEA set of utensils.)
I then decided where to place the tub (on a water-proof, safe surface.) I made sure there was an old, clean towel handy and began filling the tub, using a few jugs of tap water.
Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory TubBefore the final couple of jugs, I added some blue food colouring to enhance the look of the pond, then finished off pouring in the water to help the colouring to mix in.
Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory TubI used some left-over green foam, to make a lily pad, and used rosemary growing in the garden as ‘pond-weed,’ which also added a gorgeous scent to the pond. I still have some gorgeous pink flowers in bloom in the garden (yes… in January!) which looked beautiful against the turquoise hues of the beads and water.

Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory Tub

    Some ideas to extend this further for older children:

  • Use 5 small frog toys, and link with the ‘5 little speckled frogs’ rhyme
  • Write sight words on the pebbles in permanent marker for children to ‘fish out’ and read
  • Explore objects that float/sink into the pond
  • Explore how many small building bricks you can place on the lily pad before it sinks
  • Use it as a platform to teach counting; count pebbles, frogs, ducks, beads etc.

Happy playing!

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Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory Tub