Hey, Mothers of Boys!!! Looking for summer fun for kids? Let them get messy with a “Sensory Safari!”
We’ve already established that boys and messes go together. You know those days when they’re so covered in dirt that you just want to hose them down before letting them back in the house? What better time than summer to actually do it? One day last summer, I created a “Sensory Safari” for my kids that engaged all their senses and involved a lot of mommy-approved messes . . . outdoors, and easy to clean up with a hose or sprinkler. The look on my boys’ faces when I said, “Sure, go for it!” was hilarious. We (yes, myself included!) had so much fun making a mess that we’ll probably do this again this year. Try it! (But if you’re a clean freak, take a deep breath first and remember the hose is your friend).
Start the day with a (cheesy) poem. My kids are used to this, though it’s an optional step for you. I think in rhyme much of the time . . . (sure, it’s cute now, but I know my boys will find it obnoxious when they’re teenagers). See photo of our Sensory Safari rhyme to introduce the day.
Start the activities! Here are the Sensory Safari activities I created. Not all messy . . . but all fun.
Getting Around with Sound:
Basically, charades with sounds, plus an obstacle course twist. I gave the kids a list of sounds like lullaby, dog barking, snake hissing, etc. They had to make the sounds and have their brothers guess what they were. If they got it right, they progressed along an obstacle course (slide into kiddie pool, hopscotch, hula hoop, etc.). No mess yet, but they actually focused on this exercise, and of course made their sounds as loud as possible, and ultimately spiraled downward into the inevitable potty humor. That’s when it was time to move on to. . .
Making Sense of Scents:
We started to get messy here, and for my science-loving R, this one was extra-interesting. I poured a variety of food samples into little cups. I had the kids close their eyes and waft the scent from inside the cup up to their nose. They had to guess what they were smelling. My samples included lemon zest, garlic salt, cinnamon, maple syrup. Let them taste, too, describe what they smell and taste, and be sure to have your camera ready for some silly pics of tasting sour or spicy foods.
A little messy, a lot of fun. I got this idea from a parenting magazine last summer. A few days before the Sensory Safari, I bought some containers and knick knacks from the dollar store. I filled the container with approx. an inch of water, then put some of the toys in it and froze it. Once that layer was frozen, I added another inch or so of water with more toys in it, and froze it again. I think I did three layers in all. Then I presented the kids with their massive ice blocks and some “tools” (plastic spoon, plastic knife, toothpicks) and let them excavate/explore. It’s harder than you’d think to break through these ice blocks, but my kids had a blast trying all different ways to dig through to find their treasures, including pouring some warm water on the ice block to make it crack and melt a bit!
Once the kids are tired out from exploring their ice blocks, treat them to what I called “Whipped Delight.” I gave them the supplies to make their own treat – whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, etc. It was a nice break, and a chance for them to devour some deliciousness while of course getting sticky and messy.
Dirt. Water. MUD! Trucks. Little boys’ paradise! This was definitely the highlight of the day. No instructions needed, other than, “Yes, it’s ok! Get messy!” And the best part was that at the end, I literally hosed down my mud-covered little rascals, then finished the day with a playful bubble bath.
Sit back and enjoy the messy memories you just made and revel in the glory of being named — at least for a day – “SuperMOB, Supporter of Mess.”