COVID-19 Update: The Arboretum is temporarily closed–even to walkers–until further notice. Find updates and information here.
By Reba Luiken and Liz Potasek
With just a few items you may already have around the house, you can create sensory balloons. The process is simple, yet engaging: Just fill balloons with different materials, like sand, dried corn, rice or beans.
The finished balloons can be stacked or squeezed and stretched (which is why they are an outdoor toy at the Potasek house). They also became the object of creative play. With a little imagination, they transformed into potatoes to be buried and unearthed in the sandbox; oranges and berries that were carried around in a bucket and offered up as snack; and a stress-ball for mom.
The Arboretum’s coordinator of informal interpretation Reba Luiken, who suggested the project, recommends creating a stacking challenge (How high can you build a tower?) and trying out a few different materials in the balloons (Can you tell them apart through the balloons? Which one stacks the best?)
We found them to be an easy, delightful way to decompress after a long morning of distance learning and virtual meetings.
Notes: Make sure kids are supervised when using these, and keep an eye out for leaks after use.
-Fillers (You can try uncooked corn, beans, sand and rice… See if you can think of some more materials to try out.)
-Funnel (optional but helpful; cutting the top off of a plastic water bottle works well for larger materials.)
1. Blow up the balloon to stretch it out a bit. Let the air out.
2. Add your filler material until the balloon is about two to three times its original (not inflated) size. It helps to use a funnel!
3. Tie off the balloon and enjoy.