Playing with Nature – Pond Sensory Tub

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