Hands-on sensory play is an excellent way to introduce new topics to toddlers and preschoolers. By involving the senses through sensory exploration, new information can be delivered in a fun and memorable way. Over the years, we have found sensory squish bags to be a fun and meaningful way to engage little hands as we introduce new learning themes.
Sensory squish bags provide the perfect mess-free quiet time sensory activity. They can be used for seasonal learning themes or even a math concept such as sorting, counting, or color identification. We also love to use ours to occupy little hands at a restaurant, waiting room, or in those few minutes before dinner is ready. In addition to the mess-free sensory play, squish bags encourage hands-on exploration and make for great learning tools to spark conversations and build vocabulary.
How to Assemble a Sensory Squish Bag
Depending on the age of children, involving them in the assembly of the squish bag can be valuable added practice. It provides the opportunity to introduce concepts, vocabulary, and establish background knowledge.
The first step in assembling your squish bag is to add about 8-10 ounces of clear hair gel. If you have a desired color for your squish bag, add a few drops of food coloring.
Next, add your loose parts. This is a great time to introduce new concepts and discuss the objects in detail, bringing attention to vocabulary and descriptive words. You may also choose to incorporate counting as you drop each item into the squish bag.
Seal the bag and allow your little helpers to spread the hair gel around and to thoroughly mix the color if necessary.
As an added precaution for any of the hair gel leaking out of the bags, we add clear packing tape around the edges of the bag. This prevents the edges from popping open and keeps the sensory discovery and play much cleaner!
Leave the squish bags out for children to explore as you dive further into your learning theme and activities.
Sensory Squish Bags Across the Curriculum and Seasons
Here are some of our favorite sensory bags to explore throughout the year.
Pretend that you’re building a snowman with all the lose parts found in this fun snowman sensory squish bag!
These snowflakes won’t melt! Kids can squish and explore to their heart’s delight with this winter snowflake squish bag.
Have some hands-on fun as you squish around conversation hearts with this Valentine’s Day squish bag. You can even watch them dissolve as a science extension to learning!
Create a rainbow squish bag to investigate colors and color mixing.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a fun themed squish bag that includes popular symbols for the holiday such as shamrocks and gold coins.
“Plant” a beautiful garden of flowers and practice shape identification as you explore with this flower garden squish bag.
Collect items outdoors to make this nature-inspired sensory bag.
Take your sensory explorations to a mess-free version of the beach with these beach and sea sensory squish bags. It’s even fun to add your own treasures you may have found along the shore!
Up the wow factor with a glow-in-the-dark lava lamp sensory bag.
Watermelon is delicious year-round, but even better in the summer! Save those watermelon seeds and try out a watermelon squish bag. You may extend the fun and learning by counting seeds or dividing the bag in half with another piece of tape and practice making ten, for example 6 + 4 = 10.
Whether you’re learning about the night sky or getting ready to do some stargazing, try this constellation squish bag to add in some sensory play.
Help the apples “fall” off the tree with this apple tree squish bag.
Explore the changing colors of leaves during fall with an autumn leaves sensory bag.
Create pumpkin guts sensory bags for mess-free sensory play after you clean out a real pumpkin. Add in some phonics by focusing on the letter P.
This jack-o-lantern sensory play bag is ideal for babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers as they explore the shapes within the bag to create a jack-o-lantern face!
This googly eye squish bag is perfect for a monster theme or Halloween sensory play.
Save some corn kernels off an Indian corn husk and get right to exploring this fun and hands-on fall themed squish bag.
Work those fine motor muscles while decorating the Christmas tree in this Christmas squish bag.
Learn about magnetism with this magentic sensory bag.