Inside: Learn the ABC’s and have some good ol’ squishy fun with this easy Alphabet Jello Sensory Bin!
Jello Alphabet Sensory Bin for Preschoolers
I have no idea how I came to be in possession of two boxes of strawberry Jell-O powder.
We tend to make our own homemade jellies if the craving ever strikes, and strawberry flavouring NEVER tastes like strawberries. The packages must have made their way into the basket during one of those “hungry shops” where everything looks good in the store, and then you get home and wonder what you were thinking.
So, what’s a mom to do when she’s staring at not one but two boxes of strawberry Jell-O and the thought of feeding it to six kids (and the resulting mass sugar high) is completely terrifying?
She makes a Jello Alphabet Sensory Bin!
Related: Another one of our favorite things to do with Jello is make edible Jello slime!
How to Set Up a Jello Sensory Bin
This activity was so easy to set up and the kids loved it! It’s one of my all-time favorite sensory bin ideas!
All you need are:
Here’s how I set up our alphabet Jello sensory bin:
- First, I prepared the Jell-O according to package directions.
- Then I poured the liquid Jello into clear plastic bin and immediately added in a bag of alphabet beads. I stirred the letters so that they would be evenly distributed throughout our sensory bin.
- Finally, I let the Jello sensory bin set overnight. It was ready to go for exploration the next day!
Safety note: While the Jello is edible, the alphabet beads are not. We don’t recommend letting kids eat the Jello just in case they grab a letter by accident. Always supervise children while playing with any sensory bin.
A few tips:
- If you wanted to, or were making more than two boxes of Jell-O for a bigger sensory bin experience, you could add in the beads in half hour increments to ensure that they are all suspended in the jelly at different levels, as the Jell-O firms up from the bottom toward the top, so the beads will not sink to the bottom. (I’d like to thank my college boyfriend for that tip, which he used to suspend my friend’s sunglasses in Jell-O.)
- I was saving my energy for the clean-up, so I just mixed the jelly up a little bit before giving it to the kids so that the pieces weren’t all at the bottom.
Jello Alphabet Sensory Bin: The Reaction
This is a great sensory bin for toddlers or sensory bin for preschool — not only is it a good letter recognition activity, it’s just plain ol’ sensory fun!
At first, the kids could not believe that I was letting them dig their fingers into jello and loved the squishy sensation of grabbing fistfulls of jelly!
Even my more sensory-averse children quickly dug into the activity, realizing how pleasant the cool (but not cold) squishy jelly was – I also didn’t find the Jell-O too sticky, which helped.
They put the round letters on their fingers like rings, and searched for their first initials. Miss G scooped up some Jell-O and served it to the observing toddlers.
More Sensory Bin Ideas for Play and Exploration
Eventually, I started a letter recognition game, asking them to find letters as I sounded them out. You could even make it an Alphabet Jelly Bingo of sorts!
The children played with this bin for over half an hour, watching the consistency of the jelly become more soup-like, and I used this opportunity to discuss viscosity, and asked them to hypothesize why the jelly was changing consistency. (You can use the word “guess,” but we have some Dinosaur Train fans in the house who love using “hypothesize” whenever possible.)
We came to the conclusion that the jelly changed because we were squishing it and breaking it down, and also that our hands must have heated up the jelly because the jelly was no longer cool to the touch. It was now less viscose.
(For me, having the children create hypothesizes and explain their thinking was the main goal of my question – if they were really curious at the real answer, we would look further into it, but just fostering that creative thinking and encouraging them to add that extra element of scientific thinking and evidence gathering is enough for me.)
What’s awesome about using the alphabet beads instead of magnetic letters or a moveable alphabet is that this activity can really have two parts — searching for and gathering the beads from the jelly, and then making a necklace or key chain from the retrieved letters.
I wasn’t really looking forward to clean-up but it was really easy to clean this activity up with a bit of water afterwards, as Mr. W demonstrates.
As for the bin, I just dumped the remaining contents of jelly and beads into a colander and ran some water through it.
We may be discovering more boxes of Jell-O in our cupboards in the near future after the success of this activity. I have already thought of some really fun Jell-O learning ideas that I can’t wait to try and share with you!