Friday, October 23, 2009

letter practice/sensory practice bags

This was definitely not my idea - I saw it on another blog. But I thought it was so cool - and it is! - that I decided to do a tutorial so you could make your own.

I don't know what you'd call them, except sensory bags - but they're not really, except that they ARE squishy. Kids can practice 'drawing' shapes or writing letters with a light touch (preschoolers) or with a Q-Tip (kindergarten +). I wouldn't recommend these for older kids - especially pre-teen boys...sorry SM!....because they may be too tempted to pound on 'em good and then, SPLAT! with disastrous results. But you can always live on the edge, you know...both my girls love these.

1. Gather up your supplies. You always do that first, right? You'll need quart-size freezer bags, some paint - all I had was acrylic, but you could use tempera, too. Also needed is some good, wide, sturdy tape like masking tape or packing tape (not shown). I guess you could use gallon-size bags, but when I tried it myself, it seemed like an unwieldy size. So, just use what you have on hand. I had the giant bottle of paint because of my pumpkin painting project, but the smaller bottles are only about 50 cents at th'WM.
You'll want to go with a lighter paint. I like the look of the pink better than the red, and the orange better than the red, too. But just try it out. If your background (desk/kitchen table) is really light, then maybe a darker paint would work.

2. Open a Ziploc bag and squish some paint in. Now, I tried to eyeball it, and it looked to be about 3-4 tablespoons. I think that less is more, because I ended up having to squish some back out of the orange bag...not pretty. Of course, if you're using a larger bag, more paint goes in.

3. Mash the paint around a bit to see if it looks like it will cover the inside of the bag. You don't want it so deep that gentle pressure won't leave an impression, but also not so sparse that you can't tell what the impression is. This is the step where you get the amount right, because in the next step you will be....
4. Putting the tape on. I probably should have used masking tape for the tutorial, but I couldn't find it. The goal is to completely seal the top of the bag. I laid the bag on its side, put the tape just below the 'zip' and then turned the bag over, sealing the top down to the other 'zip.' There was overlap, and I cut off all but about 1/4 inch. Just for insurance.

5. OK, now you're done! Use a Q-Tip (ahem, a cotton swab) to make designs or practice letters. The bags withstood 3 days of homeschool use with my 5 y.o., who is by no means gentle. She practiced writing M, S, L and who-knows-what and she seemed to like them.

I even practiced my initials some.

Thinking about how this could be improved, I wonder if some other medium could be used like a thinned out version of the paper mache goop with food coloring, dish soap with food coloring or even old beef gravy or yogurt that you are so sick of eating but you can't bear to throw away....

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