Back to School – Fishing for Letters in Sensory Soup

Get messy with shaving foam and waterbeads in our Sensory Soup recipe for back to school letter recognition fun.

back to school sensory soup

We’ve made it past the half way point now in our school summer holidays over here in Ireland, so it’s time to start putting a learning twist into some of our arts and crafts activities to help the boys prepare for the new school year.

Freddie is starting out in Junior Infants this September, so I’ve been spending lots of time with him making sure that he is confident in writing and spelling his name.  I’ve been getting him to practise writing his name using different materials such as pencils, crayons, pens, chalk, building it with bricks, cutting it out of play-dough with letter cutters and tracing it in sand with his fingers. To involve his big brother as well, who will be going into 1st Class, I have been working with him on spelling and writing out our surname and practising all of the sight words he learnt last year. I have tried to do most of these activities when my toddler has been napping to allow the boys to concentrate a bit more and not have to worry about her running off with their pencils etc…

For more activities suitable for Back to School preparation check out our Fine Motor Fishing (using giant tweezers) and Free Printable Summer Learning Prompts

Back to School: Sensory Soup

Today I decided to add a sensory element to a name and word learning activity for my two sons. I cooked up some “Sensory Soup” for them to go fishing in for letters to make their names.  To make the soup I mixed together water-beads, shaving foam and glitter and added in our special ingredient, plastic letters.  Then in order to give the boys an activity each to play with at the same time, I also emptied out a tin of alphabet spaghetti into a dish for them to play around with and make words from.

My 6 year old set off with the shaving foam and waterbeads “Sensory Soup,” fishing out the correct letters to make up his full-name. He really enjoyed feeling the smooth and silky textures of the shaving foam and the water-beads mixed together. This was the first time that we had combined the two. It seemed to be taking him a good while to finish off his name though and he was starting to get a bit frustrated, as he couldn’t find the last letter he needed to finish off our surname. I eventually found it for him on the floor; it hadn’t even made it into the soup, so the poor boy had had no chance of completing his task!
back to school sensory soup 2

My 4 year really enjoyed playing with the alphabet spaghetti. When we have this for lunch he often has fun fishing out the letters for his name, so this was really a fun extension to this activity.  He did complain that it felt very cold though, so on reflection I maybe should have given it a quick blast in the microwave to warm it up a bit first.

back to school sensory soup 4

They then swapped over their activities.  My 6 year old was much quicker picking his letters out of the spaghetti, but he did say that he preferred the feel of the “Sensory Soup”.  My 4 year old loved the “Sensory Soup” as well, but he did need a bit more help finding some of his letters. He didn’t have quite enough patience to dig though all of the letters to find the ones he needed.

  The boys then asked if they could combine the two activities to see what type of mixture that would make and I thought why not? Whilst I took the letters to one side to clean up, the boys tipped the alphabet spaghetti into the “Sensory Soup” and then they had a good squash and squeeze around with it.  They did lots of giggling whilst doing this together, so all in all this was a successful hour spent together whilst their little sister had her nap.
back to school sensory soup 5
For even more shaving foam fun then please check our Invitation to make Messy Sundaes and Pretend Baking for Toddlers  
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36 comments… add one
  • August 4, 2014, 7:42 am

    Such a fun idea. It looks lovely and gooey!

  • Kay MummysBlog August 4, 2014, 2:17 pm

    This looks really fun – I wouldn't mind putting my hands in the shaving foam, but I feel a bit sqeamish about putting them in spaghetti! Is that weird?! x

    • multicraftingmummy August 4, 2014, 8:21 pm

      Not at all it did feel a bit weird with my hands in the cold spaghetti it definitly would have felt better warmed up a bit! The shaving foam felt fab though and smelt lovely as well.

  • Mae August 4, 2014, 6:07 pm

    What fun. I might take this outdoors so the kids can get really messy. Plus easy clean up with a hose.

    • multicraftingmummy August 4, 2014, 8:23 pm

      Good idea. Although we did mange to do this indoors without too much cleaning up to do, i think if i had involved my 2 year old we would definitely have needed to have taken it outside!

  • Nishana August 5, 2014, 7:14 am

    Fun and cute idea.. Love this. Will try someday with my daughter.. 🙂


  • Paul Wandason August 5, 2014, 7:51 am

    Reading this reminds me of those charity things where people take a bath in baked beans…I hope the sensory soup experience didn't go that far!

    • multicraftingmummy August 5, 2014, 7:06 pm

      Haha!! No we kept it restricted to just hands in them and no other body parts! I m sure if my toddler had been involved though that she would probably had fun tipping them over her head!!

  • Karen Bell August 5, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Fun learning sensory idea. I think messy play is always a good way to get children into learning. I bet they enjoyed it, especially at the end
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    • multicraftingmummy August 5, 2014, 7:07 pm

      They definitly enjoyed getting messy and they felt very proud of their experiment at the end! It's great to encourage them to take charge of some of the activity as well.

  • Rebecca U August 6, 2014, 9:38 am

    Great idea – I would have never thought of this type of thing #mmwbh

  • OneMommy August 7, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Learning and messy fun together! Love it!

    • Nicola Simpson August 9, 2014, 12:41 pm

      When they're having fun they don't even realise they are learning as well.

  • Zena Goldman August 8, 2014, 7:38 pm

    sounds like a great learning tool, #pocolo

    • Nicola Simpson August 9, 2014, 12:41 pm

      Thanks it worked out well for us and it wasn't too bad to clean up!

  • Susen Kuchta August 9, 2014, 11:00 am

    what a perfect activity for boys!! Getting their hands dirty but learning at the same time!

  • JDaniel4's Mom August 9, 2014, 11:53 am

    This looks like a whole lot of fun!

  • Emma @ P is for Preschooler August 9, 2014, 9:12 pm

    Two wonderfully messy ideas! I've never tried the shaving cream and water beads together – it must be a unique feeling!

  • BakedPotato Mummy August 9, 2014, 9:58 pm

    I love the idea of waterbeads, shaving foam and glitter! What at wonderful sensory mess!! Some brilliantly creative ways to start preparing your kids for the start of the new school year.
    Thanks for linking up with #BinkyLinky

    • Nicola Simpson August 11, 2014, 6:12 pm

      Thank you. It was great fun! We turned the same mixture minus the letters into "cupcakes" this week!

  • Honest Mum August 10, 2014, 8:35 pm

    Wow messy play looks fun, I'm a bit scared of it but should have a go! Thanks for linking up to #briliantblogposts

    • Nicola Simpson August 11, 2014, 6:12 pm

      Don't be scared! It actually wasn't that hard to clean up afterwards…

  • EmilyTwin MummyandDaddy August 11, 2014, 9:26 pm

    That looks super messy! Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

  • Katie Pinch August 14, 2014, 3:52 am

    Thanks for sharing, what a fun activity! I am going to feature it tomorrow on the Love to Learn Linky party. I hope you come and link up again 🙂

  • Charlotte August 16, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Great idea, my boys love this sort of play. Alphabettis look awesome sensory play!

  • Steph @MisplacedBrit October 1, 2014, 8:56 pm

    Haha! This one's fantastic!
    Love the bowl of foam! …I can imagine my kids would be most shocked to be 'allowed' to put their hands into the spagetti though!! 🙂

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