The last time we went for a nature walk, we came back with tons of ‘finds’ or ‘harvest’ as Pari and I like to call! We were going wild with ideas for what to do or create with our nature collection.
One of the ideas that really struck a chord was to make a 5 senses nature sensory box! This idea sprung from the ‘Garden of Five Senses’ here in Delhi that we’ve visited often.
Actually, I’d been wanting to convert our big square balcony into a five senses playscape for Pari. And, I’m getting there, too, step by step. (more on that later)
But in the meantime, this 5 senses box is meant to be a bonus – to bring nature indoors and play with.
Besides, the whole process of putting it together has been very joyful and soothing for Pari and me.
(You might wonder about that mehendi/henna on her arm! Well – she’s very fond of it and wants me to apply not just on her palms but on full arms. Quite a task it is! Even so – good for me – ‘cuz I LOVE applying mehendi to others; on my own hands, too, but then I don’t have the patience to let it dry for couple of hours!)
So, we first laid all our finds on a big tray and sifted through the piles and piles of dried fruits and flowers of the Casuarina trees (Whistling Pine or River She Oak), dry leaves, twigs, feathers and other nature’s elements.
Then, we sorted them into trays and bowls.
Next, we got a large box and laid it on the floor.
This process was where we let the creative juices flow. I told Pari that we’re going to create a garden in the box, which would enable her to play using all five senses.
We talked a little about the five senses and how each plays a role in helping us experience things.
These are some of the things we used to explore each of the sensory pleasure.
Sight – we tried making the whole thing as beautiful and colourful as possible. Pari brought out her princess cut-outs and decided to make the garden a home for her princesses!
I told you, she’s riding the princess wave of her childhood at this time!
We found a gorgeous peacock in our scrap box, which we’d made long time back (from card stock).
Pari also placed a toy princess, queen and king to complete her princess family.
Smell – Rose petals, lavendar sachet – we wanted to make it aromatic and invigorating in a gentle way. Not overpowering.
- We used some flax seeds to play with for their silky smooth texture, bulk and sand-like flow
- These flax seeds were not edible any more because they had turned rancid just a few days after I bought from the store. (obviously, they were not stored well in the grocery store).
- I would like to mention here that I’m very conscious about using food items for play purpose. I use them sparingly.
- We’ve used this batch of flax seeds over and over again
- Before Pari wants to play, I keep them in the refrigerator for a while so they turn cold and feels really rejuvenating to touch
- So, the flax seeds you see in this box are super cold – another sensory experience besides the ticklish flowy texture of the seeds themselves
- The pleasure a child feels when the seeds run between the fingers make them do this back and forth
- We also added other elements to enhance the sense of touch – lace, dry pods, leaves and feathers – to tickle and giggle!
Hear – I added couple of tin lids (of used glass jars) – to strike against each other and peculiar sounds, a small box filled with beads – to shake; some shells – for some clunky sounds. Even the flax seeds make a gentle rhythmic music as if sand flowing under waves!
Taste – Okay, yes – we included this part, too! Pari wanted to add tid bits from some cake decoration stuff that we got a while back.
I don’t ever use any icing or flavoured and coloured decorations for my cake but when Pari bakes with me, she likes to make it fancy, So we got a small bottle of those colourful stars some time back. Goes without saying – she couldn’t resist popping in her mouth when playing in the sensory box!
Not just Pari, even I couldn’t resist myself from playing with this five senses nature box that afternoon.
Pari played with it the whole day and late into evening.
Couple of days back, my niece – Sarah, was here, and she was pretty curious about this sensory box. She seemed hesitant initially but soon I could see that she was eager to explore it bit by bit.
Toward the end, she grabbed a fistful of the flax seeds and regaled in ‘pouring’ it into the box standing upright! My sis-in-law (bhabhi) sighed that my floor was getting messy but I told her not to worry.
This mess is nothing when I compare the delight on the face of these little ones! Nothing gives me as much joy as watching them play unrestrained and fancy-free! And, sensory play is one such that invites them to engage whole heartedly.
This is the 3rd part of my series on nature and kids and how to connect the two. Read the previous articles in this series.
This ‘50+ ideas to enjoy nature’ article has become the most popular article on my blog – ever – inviting thousands of readers since last week! Thank you to all of you who read, commented and shared. 🙂
And, the first one in the series –