Disclaimer: This is by far the messiest sensory play I’ve undertaken with either of my children, and that’s saying a lot. But it’s worth it!
In retrospect, I would have done this activity around Christmas. Something about it felt very seasonal, perfect for the holidays, although technically it is still winter which means hot cocoa season. The original version of this game called for a container of hot cocoa mix, but it’s very hard to find a brand with no milk powder. Instead, I mixed together a tub of cocoa powder but added about 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored protein powder. This meant the mix wouldn’t be too bitter if Veronika happened to lick her fingers (which she did!). Straight cocoa powder probably won’t appeal to your little one.
To complete the set-up, I added a few gingerbread people ornaments. in keeping with the cocoa theme. If you want to keep the bin fully edible, use mini Dandies marshmallows instead. Or try gingerbread men cookies, if in stock around the holidays.
I added a funnel and a few scoops and rakes, and Veronika went to town!
This was like indoor dirt, except it smelled divine. I held the scoop up to her nose a few times to fully enjoy that chocolate-y scent, which prompted little “mmm’s” of delight.
Mostly she loved scooping through it.
Once I showed he how to fill up the funnel, she became an expert at that.
The gingerbread men were fun to put in the cocoa and bury, then dig up again. Again, I wish I’d thought to use edible marshmallows, though!
By now she had completely spooned cocoa powder all over her pants and socks. Another mea culpa: wear only a diaper next time!
Well, since we were already this messy, I figured why not take our sensory bowl from indoor “dirt” to “mud”. I poured in a little oat milk, which made the whole thing smell even better. She loved stirring and watching the powder dissolve in big bubbles.
Okay, playtime complete; now it was immediately upstairs for a wash and a change!