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We love incorporating letters into our water play – from our Frog Pond Sensory Bin to our Alphabet Soup activity, the kids just love digging in the water for letters! I thought I’d use their current pirate obsession to create this foamy Pirate Treasure Letter Hunt Sensory Bin!
Foam is the newest sensory material that I have mastered. Previously, I had read about it and the blog posts I read suggested using a stand or hand mixer to whip up tons of bubbles with dish soap. Despite adding plenty of cornstarch to help get things moving, I just never had much success with that method.
Then recently, I decided to give foam another try and this time I used the blender – what a difference! Just add a cup of water and about half a cup of dish soap and you won’t believe the foamy bubbles that you come out with. You can even add scent or color – like I did with our pirate sensory bin that I’m sharing today.
How to Make a Foamy Letter Treasure Hunt
First, assemble your materials:
- Dish soap
- Paint or food dye
- Sand box tools
- Pirate treasure
- Permanent marker
- Large container
- gems for other “treasure”
I had the kids put on their bathing suits for this activity, both because I knew they were going to get wet and also in case the paint stained their clothing. The paint simply dyed the foam without transferring to their hands or clothes – but better safe than sorry!
*For a classroom based version, use small tubs for fun sensory play! Same idea, just smaller scale.
I did 4 batches of foam in the blender, using up about half a bottle of dish soap, making enough foam to fill our wading pool. If you are using a smaller container you can get away with less foam!
On about half of the gold coins for the pirate treasure, I wrote various letters that the kids would recognize using permanent marker.
You can do variations according to what your group is learning and focusing on, but I decided to write out 3 sets of vowels and encourage the kids to try to search for a full set of vowels. Some of the coins were blank so there was a real effort to search! Only two kids worked on this bin at a time, so this worked for our group – adjust it according to your group’s size and focus.
The foam served as a fun sensory material but also a cover for the letters and gems, so the kids really had to dig their hands and tools into the foam to discover the treasure and it was genuinely a surprise whenever they pulled a piece up for inspection.
The kids were encouraged to throw back “doubles” of the vowels that they had already scooped out of the foam, so that both kids would have an equal opportunity to gather a full set of vowels, but they were allowed to keep any blank coins and gems that they dug up.
Whenever they found a vowel, they were encouraged to identify it and then check to see if they already had that vowel. We would also review periodically which vowels they still needed to find, but the focus for us was on having fun!
The kids loved digging in the foam and blowing it around the yard afterwards. The nice thing with not providing “duds” but rather just blank gold coins and gems was that it extended the sensory play while not being disappointing or discouraging.
This was a great letter identification game and a fun way to stay cool in the heat. We will definitely be repeating this activity (or versions of it) in the future!
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