Today we brought in some seasonal items from nature along with some play dough … and just let the children have at it! We used winter nature items from our area, such as pinecones and pine branches. Since I still had some extra scented pinecones – we used those. Some of the pine branches also had a good pine scent – so this was definitely a sensory experience for the hands, eyes AND nose!
Each child had a ball of play dough, a pinecone and a couple of small pieces from a pine branch to start off. We have various types of pine trees in our area, so we used a variety. I didn’t tell the children what to do with them. Most realized very quickly that they can make the pinecone and pine branches stand upright by using the play dough as a base. Other children noticed how they can make imprints of the pinecone in the play dough. And still others tried covering their pinecone entirely with the play dough.
Then, I added a few other sensory items … some cotton balls and seasonal colored macaroni and white glitter beads. Of course, I was thinking that they could make a snowy scene with the materials. But, instead they made their own creations – some used the cotton balls to look like snow – others realized that the cotton would “stick” to the play dough. Some used the colored macaroni to decorate the pinecone. Others simply smashed the macaroni into the play dough.
One child realized the pine needles looked like quills and made a porcupine! It really didn’t matter what they did – they very much enjoyed the process and creating their own masterpiece!