Sometimes I'm asked if we have any plans.
"What are your plans for summer vacation?"
"Any plans for winter break?"
And generally my answer is no... we're going to wing it. We'll find things to do... somehow.
That's where Pinterest can save our day! If there are no events at the library, it's too cold or rainy for the park and the pool is closed, then I'm on Pinterest looking for fun sensory activities for Ivan. And I can usually find something fun, educational and maybe just a little bit messy.
This baked cotton ball project has been bouncing around Pinterest and the mommy blogoshpere lately so I thought we could give it a shot and see how it might be adapted for blind children. This activity is sticky, messy, crunchy and soft all in one! Here's how to do it...
What You'll Need
- Cookie sheet or tray
- parchment paper
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbs water
- cotton balls
- food coloring
- vanilla (or other flavors) extract
Mix flour and water in a big bowl. Mixing is easy, so get your child involved right from the beginning. Things will get messy so it's probably best to sit at a table or high chair with a tray, but if you're like us and play most of your games on the floor, be sure to put a towel down to collect the mess.
If you want to add color, go ahead and drop in some food coloring. For multiple colors you can split your flour mixture into separate bowls. I also added some vanilla extract and a little bit of ground cloves to give the mixture a nice scent. Lemon or almond extract would be nice, too. Ivan seems to engage more with an activity if there is a distinct aroma involved plus it's a great way to add more sensory input to the activity.
Next, drop your cotton balls into the flour mixture and get them all soaked up in the batter. This is where things can get really sticky and gooey! Place the wet cotton balls on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake the cotton balls at 350° for about 30 minutes. I baked mine a little too long and they came out a bit browned, but that's OK. The same thing happens when I bake cookies.
Let the cotton balls cool completely then smooth the edges with scissors to make sure you don't have any pokey parts that might hurt little hands. Throw your baked cotton balls into a bowl and let the fun begin!
Playing with Your Baked Cotton Balls
The coolest thing about baked cotton balls is that they're hard, but super light and really easy to crush with your bare hands. Give the ball a squeeze and you'll get a satisfying *CRUNCH* and then the soft, pliable cotton ball is revealed inside! They're kind of like fortune cookies, but easier to break and the fortune is always the same... softness!
Ivan liked to pull the cotton balls apart and feel how long a cotton string he could make. He also liked the sound of the crunch. You could also play with toy hammers and hit the cotton balls or maybe run toy trucks over them.
One word of warning... you'll go through your baked cotton balls faster than you'd think, so be sure to make a big batch!