Is there much educational value to this sensory tray? No. But is it fantastic messy fun? Yes! And sometimes that’s all you need with a toddler.
I originally intended to use sand for the craft, but didn’t have any. In a pinch, I made colored salt! I first put coarse salt into small zip-top plastic bags and added a few drops of food coloring to each. Seal and knead to disperse the color. (Meanwhile, you can also use colored sand from a sand art kit or add your own food coloring to sand at home).
Now squirt a generous layer of foamy shaving cream onto a shallow tray – the more the better! If you prefer, you could do this activity right on a craft table, but I liked containing it (somewhat!) on the tray.
Sprinkle with the colored sand or salt. I added a few plastic spoons to facilitate things, but Veronika immediately had her hands in the mixture without any encouragement. She liked scooping it onto the floor in big dollops…
…and also enjoyed testing how it felt with her fingers. The contrast of smooth creamy shaving cream and very coarse salt is of course the point here, and she seemed fascinated by this mix of textures.
I thought she might just spoon through it, but soon her little toy figures were in the shaving cream. Once they were messy, she couldn’t quite decide if this was funny or if she was worried about them! I rinsed the toys off before she got upset.
In retrospect, I would have done this project at bedtime, rather than early in the day. That way I could have stripped Veronika down to a diaper and plopped her into a bathtub right after. As it was, I felt bad cutting things short before the mess got out of control, once I realized she was walking around with shaving cream all over her hands, feet, and legs.
But she still got in a good twenty minutes or so of fun.