This is one I had been planning for a while!
If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that our oven broke down just before the baby’s birthday. You may also know that we have bought an emergency oven to tide us over until the new kitchen is installed. The oven we got was £30 and is a really tiny little thing, good only for fish fingers to be honest. Not cakes. I learnt that when I attempted some buns. But it was that baking disaster that led to one of the most fun edible play experiences we’ve had, so it turned out well in the end! This is what we did:
- I popped the salvageable pieces of chocolate sponge cake into a blender and whizzed them up until they reached a crumb like consistency. This was our soil.
- I made some small roses from yellow fondant icing- I used a small round cutter (it was actually one end of an orange sucker) and folded it slightly, before adding another one and folding that round. I used four circles folded around each other for each rose.
- The Big one used green fondant icing to make some leaves and shoots to pop up from the grass.
- We broke up two Rivita crackers to make a cobbled path.
- We used a small packet of Rainbow drops to make ‘blossom’ to hide inside the soil.
- We cooked up some spaghetti and pasta tubes, rinsed it under cold water and added some green food colouring. This was going to be green worms but actually worked better as grass around the soil.
- We painted one ‘hump’ from a cardboard egg carton with red paint, to make a toad stool.
- We arranged all of this on the Tuff Spot.
- We added the wooden Eco house and some of the dolls and play mobile characters.
The pre-schooler was immediately taken with this. He could not wait to jump in and play! This was exactly what I wanted to see because the Eco house was his main birthday present back in December but he hadn’t really played with it much so far. Straight away he started to:
- Use different voices for the different characters.
- Engage in an active story with the dolls and the wooden horse, using the garden as a trigger.
- Talk about the characters and the story he had invented, asking us to join in with him.
Once the baby woke from her nap, I invited them all to explore the edible garden. Most of our sensory play has to be edible if we are to do it with the baby around, so this one was really lovely in that almost everything that could go in her mouth was perfectly safe! I encouraged the children to:
- Explore the soil with their fingers, and the pre-schooler used words such as soft, crumbly, squashy
- Use their noses to sniff the soii
- Taste the soil- the pre-schooler exclaimed that it tasted like cake!
- Dig their fingers in to find the hidden rainbow drops
- Explore the ‘slimy’ grass, and watch what happens when it gets mixed in with the soil
- Press the rainbow drops between their fingers
- Taste the flowers, leaves and grass.
I left the kids to play for a while and watched from a short distance, as I was keen for the pre-schooler to continue with his imaginative play. He loves to invent stories and use props as characters, so it was lovely to see him so engaged for such a long time. Once he moved back to the garden, I noticed that he was using his fingertips to trace patterns in the soil, and so I drew a letter ‘L’ for him to copy. Then we played a quick number game- I drew a number and he had to read it upside down from his position around the Tuff Spot.
This was a truly wonderful sensory experience for all the children and one I would love to do again if possible. Next time I would perhaps add a few different characters to enable the pre-schooler to extend his imaginative play a little, and perhaps add some words to help him too.