Friday, July 26, 2013

Sensory Play & Experiential Art From Nature AKA Lavender is for Boys Too

When we moved to our rural home we inherited a gorgeous, large lavender bed, which provides countless sensory possibilities and explorations for my boys who are naturally drawn to it -- the vibrant color (except for right now in the hot, arid summer) and the overpowering scent. Red Ted Art recently did a Lavender Hang-Out and shared amazing Lavender Make and Bakes, which inspired us to do some new lavender explorations and to share those alongside all of our other lavender sensory play experiences and creations.  

The lavender initially attracted Wild Thing about a year ago when his interest in bees was peaked by Winnie the Pooh, some books we were reading and the real bees that buzzed around the lavender bed. We made a wonderfully engaging Bee Sensory Bin with the lavender included.  

Next, The Imagination Tree and Connecting Family and Seoul inspired us to try herbed playdough. Of course, we made ours with lavender, and I learned to embrace playdough play with my boys instead of dreading it. (If you also feel intimidated by playdough sometimes, particularly making your own, check out this great post featuring Tips on Playing with Playdough and Playdough Recipes from JDaniel4s Mom).

Now for the new activities we did this week with thanks to Red Ted Art for inspiration. We started with contact paper, lavender and spices. We shook and pulled the lavender off its stalk so that it would stick to the contact paper and sprinkled spices on the paper too. (Sorry - I didn't get any good photos of our contact paper art).

Next, we decided a painting experiment would be fun. We wanted to see if we could use lavender as a paintbrush and turn some spices into paint. The spice element was inspired by Learn with Play at Home and Nurture Store. It was an interesting sensory experience. 

We picked some lavender. Alongside it, I laid out a small jar of water and some spice packets I purchased on clearance recently. I also spread out a large piece of water paper on the boys' picnic table. Caterpillar happened to be napping at the time, so this experiential art exploration was just for Wild Thing -- and he really enjoyed it. 

I loved the outcome and the streaks and strokes the lavender created. 

For quite some time I've wanted to make Mind Jars/Meditation Jars/Calm Jars with the boys -- ever since Awesomely Awake shared them in a beautifully written post on How to Raise Peaceful Children. She linked to Our Mind Jar by Here We Are Together

A neighbor brought us two bell jars, I (finally) got some glitter glue at the 99 cent store and decided I wanted to add some fresh lavender and lavender oil to them as well for an extra calming and soothing element. The process of making them engaged both Caterpillar and Wild Thing completely and had them asking for days to work on the jar again and again. (In fact, I think Caterpillar could work on his everyday. He loves squirting the glitter glue in the jar, smelling the lovely lavender scent and then shaking the glitter glue worms all around!)

I added some Montessori real-life skills practice into the process as well, letting Wild Thing pour the water into his jar himself using the small creamer I bought at a thrift store months ago so that he could pour milk on his cereal by himself. Caterpillar wanted to pour too, but needed help from Mommy. 

I loved how beautiful the jar looked with the fresh lavender just in...

Caterpillar LOVES to squirt the glitter glue into the jar. It takes a lot of pressure to do it, so there are developmental benefits too as he works on his grip to squirt out the glue.

Finally, time to shake! 

The other night before we went bed, we shook ours up and sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as we watched the glitter swirl around and, finally, settle. I will say, the lavender did make the water in one of the jars turn brown, but the smell when we open the jars is divine! I think we will probably add food color to the brown water jar, and both jars could use a bit more glitter. Still, I'm so glad we finally made these. The boys absolutely love them -- and I do too! 
What sensory and art experiences does nature inspire for you? 

You might also like:
Kids Get Arty: Inocente
All You Need Are Sticks
Little Blue + Little Yellow Sensory Play


  1. can't wait till we have lavender in bloom again here! Saving these ideas for when our spring arrives!

  2. I love your collection of lavender ideas. The painting with spices and a lavender paint brush looks like so much fun and must have had an amazing aroma. The jars look like a lot of fun too and I love that you use them in other ways (like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star).

  3. What a wonderful collection of ideas. We have done the lavender play dough (well actually I believe it was lemon lavender scented) and lavender rice bin for relaxing, but I love the painting ideas. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!