Jelly: shapes and cars


Jelly is a fantastic, versatile sensory material. It is, of course, wibbly wobbly. It’s also a whole lot of bouncy, squishy, fun!

First, while Elly napped, Zeph helped me make jelly hearts, jelly cupcakes and a jelly slab. Any jelly mix will do, but I chose to use gelatin powder, water and food colouring to avoid a sugar shot in the case the kids decided to eat the lot. This is super simple – just follow the instructions on the gelatin packet, or try the method at the end of the post. Zeph was really interested in the effect of mixing the powder into cold water, and then watching it disappear (dissolve) when it went into the warm water.

Once the jelly was set and Elly was awake we chose our preferred implements: forks, spoons and chopsticks for experimentation and mark making; shapes from our shape sorter to use like cookie cutters (Zeph really enjoyed this); and, as always, cars!

The play started out with poking and prodding at the jelly and proceeded with Zeph cutting out shapes and Elly digging in wih a spoon. They tried turning the moulds upside down and tipping or shaking it out, they squished it between their fingers and bounced it on the ground. They tipped or scooped squished pieces from container to container. Elly tried picking it up with chopsticks but not with much success. Finally they drove cars through in and buried them underneath it.

This activity was a success with both boys: Zeph can do things like this for up to an hour, and though Elly normally gets bored more quickly he probably spent fifteen or twenty minutes happy with this. With some of our messy play he’ll tell me ‘finished’ in sign language and then try to go and get into the bath after about three minutes as that is one of his favourite parts of anything!

It is quite a messy activity, especially with my kids, who almost always get to a point where they want to throw things around! We do things like this on the verandah where it’s a little more contained and I can wash it down easily, but an outside space would also be perfect if you have one available.

To make jelly with gelatin

1 tablespoon gelatin powder (extra gelatin increases how solid the jelly is)
475mls warm water
3 or 4 tablespoons cold water
Food colouring

Add the gelatin to the cold water. It will become a lumpy semi-solid.
Dissolve the gelatin mix in warm water.
Add food colouring.
Pour in into moulds and refrigerate until it sets.