Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving skills, and social interaction. This type of play aids in developing and enhancing memory. It is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child. Make these (cheap) squishy sensory bags to place on the light table and reap the benefits of all these.
This light table sensory play activity requires minimal materials and the squishy bags are fairly simple to assemble.
First, gather the following materials needed for these light table squishy bags:
- Clear floral gel beads (found near the flower aisle at Dollar Tree)
- Plastic zip top bags (any size will work; gallon size are recommended for this tutorial)
- Liquid watercolor (found at the craft store) or regular food coloring
* Links are included at the bottom of this page for your convenience.
Floral water beads come already soaked and ready to go! The 11.4 oz bottle will fit perfectly into a gallon-size bag. So, if you want to make 6 squishy bags, toss 6 of these jars into your cart.
There are different ways to color the clear floral water beads:
- food coloring (quick & easy, and you probably already have it on hand)
- tempera paint (from the art easel– just squirt a bit into the jar and stir it up)
- liquid watercolor!
Where do you buy Liquid Watercolor?
Liquid watercolors are the very best way to dye sensory materials. You can buy liquid watercolors online (Amazon and Discount School Supply are two great options.) They are available in dozens of bright, gorgeous, amazing colors. (Gold watercolor, anyone?!)
Craft stores also carry liquid watercolor; it’s a well-kept secret! The trouble is, many craft store clerks have never heard of liquid watercolor. (Can you imagine?!) This photo was taken at Michaels. Liquid watercolor is generally located on a low shelf near the regular, adult paints. Sargent brand comes in the 6 rainbow colors. Don’t forget to use your craft store coupon.
- Duct tape
It is important to use good quality bags for this activity since a leak or spill could get extremely messy. Use a high quality brand that closes securely. You may even consider double-bagging these!
How to Assemble Squishy Bags:
- Dump the clear floral beads into a zip top bag
- Squirt liquid watercolor into the bag. If you don’t have liquid watercolor, use food coloring.
- Close the bag and mix well.
- Double bag each plastic bag to make them more secure. This sensory activity has the potential to get messy, so this step is definitely recommended.
Completely optional, highly recommended:
- For an extra layer of security, put a duct tape border around the outside of each bag. For an added bonus, use color-coordinated duct tape for each bag.
Variations of the squishy bags:
- Add a little bit of water to make the squishy bags even squishier.
- Add a little bit of clear hair gel (found at the dollar store) to make the squishy bags thicker.
These light table sensory activity squishy bags are fun to make in each of the six rainbow colors. They are great to use for a color mixing lesson. Overlap the bags to make more colors (ex: put the yellow squishy bag on top of the blue squishy bag to show children the color green.)