This past Tuesday evening, Alexis and I were joined by Early Childhood Educators and students as we explored sensory materials together. I think we’ve started a tradition of playful selfies at our workshops. The feature image was taken after our workshop with us hiding behind a mountain of shaving cream we created. If you haven’t used shaving cream purely for the sensory experience of massaging it through your hands, I highly recommend it.

The evening began with a sit down seminar/discussion period where we brainstormed types of sensory play, barriers of offering sensory play in the classroom and solutions to those hindrances. There were so many good ideas about recycling materials, which dollar stores carried certain materials, wholesalers and offering a variety of activities for children.

We had the educators pair up with someone from a different centre prior to entering the play space. Educators were encouraged to play like children would, their partner would be documenting how they played, what they said and the types of materials they chose to use, fifteen minutes later, they would switch roles.

The group of ladies and one gent played a lot more carefully than the children did with the same materials offered two weeks ago. “Do we play in one area? Can we move around the room?” Immediately, the adults were asking permission to play a certain way. We watched as the pairs:
– explored potion mixing with shampoos and conditioners
– created shaving cream patterns
– poked playdough
– manipulated light and reflections
– ran fingers through salt
– massaged water beads
– smeared cornstarch finger paint
– poured sand
– danced with fabric
– cut, smell and create flower arrangements

While everyone in the room was busy documenting their partner, I took down a few notes of my own. Besides noticing how neat everyone was playing, I captured a little dialogue:
“What is this?”
“Can I use this?”
“Sorry, this is so wasteful.” (While squirting shaving cream)
“Which one is open, I don’t want to open a new one.”
“Do play here?”

As adults, I think we often play by the rules. Rules which we have somehow created along the way, rules that our children do not have, which allow them to explore freely without inhibitions. May we all find our inner child today and explore everyday materials with new found curiosity. Thank you so much to Vancouver Foundation, Volunteer Richmond, Richmond Community Foundation and Ulferts Kids for helping to make this workshop happen, and for allowing us to play! For more pictures from this workshop, please visit our Facebook Page (

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