Sensory activities for toddlers - CORN MEAL

Corn meal is a wonderful sensory material for kids to explore! Rewarding and extremely useful for those little brains of theirs! And - let's admit it - messy, too. 

But don't worry, you'll also find a few hints for you to avoid my rookie mistakes, and alternative solutions that might save the day :) - including several ways to make sensory play easier for moms.

sensory activities for toddlers

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I've had a package of corn meal for ages, waiting to be used in our sensory-play box, but I somehow kept putting it off, waiting for the warm weather to kick in, so we could jump straight to the real sand. (not there yet) So I finally openend the package and set the corn meal out on a pan for our toddler to explore...and to make a real mess in the kitchen.
Since then, the corn meal has been a great hit! The kid has asked to play with this great material for several days in a row by now. And I've learned some things along :)


what you need for sensory play

What you see in the photo was a 'track-making kit'. He used many additional utensils and items in playing with corn meal. He scooped, transferred corn meal from one tiny cup to another, over and over again. 

What he really enjoyed most was making tracks, using his fingers, chopsticks and - his favorite - a plastic bowl-and-dough scraper - similar to this one:

sensory activities for kids - making tracks

    sensory play for kids



    What amazes me is the fact that while toddlers are pouring and digging and concentrating on the materials, a lot of GOOD STUFF is happening in the background, in that little brains of theirs.

    To avoid repeating myself, here is a link to a post that includes a list of several KEY BENEFITS OF SENSORY PLAY (link), just if you'd like to read more about it.

    It's amazing what incredible things are learned by kids when playing with sensory materials, isn't it?

    sensory play for toddlers

    Kids will combine the 'tools' with their hands and fingers, and that's what may make it even more interesting. You may even want to offer additional small toys, or rocks, or any other open-ended materials you feel would make the handling more interesting to your kid.  Then sit back and enjoy observing...if you can. ...

    Which brings us to what I promised at the beginning of the post: tips on how to contain the mess {that mom has to clean. Each. Time.} - and to make it bearable enough to let the kids enjoy sensory play again and again. Let me tell you in short how it went on in our home:

    sensory activities for kids - corn meal

    What happened to me were several (normal) rookie mistakes when I offered sensory materials to the toddler for the first few times.

    At first, I put the play pan directly on the kitchen table - and everything that left it fell at first on the table, then on the clothes and then on the floor, leaving tiny particles in the air. As you can imagine, the vacuum cleaner was on heavy duty those days :) But like other moms, I soon found better solutions by trial and error :)  I made it easier for me by moving the play area to the floor. And when I added a bed sheet, the mess was minimized - and my sanity rescued ;) I won't go on about how I learned each of {many} lessons, it might take too much of your time. But I did make a short list of tips how to survive sensory play - you can check out the post here, it's all about 4 easy tips.

    Proud to say that learning from my own mistakes, we have nearly tamed the mess with sensory materials since. Happy happy! 

    And if you want more information on sensory bins, you might want to check out this e-book by Sharla Kostelyk:

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    sensory play benefits for kids


    1. This is a great activity! I have 2 little ones (3 1/2 boy and 19 month old girl) and I think they'll love this activity. I'll try the rice and use a bed sheet underneath. I appreciate the wisdom from your 'mistakes' and have pinned it as well. Great to be connected!!

      1. Liz,
        thank you for teh lovely comment. A good choice of yours, rice plus bed sheet. Exactly this was the first thing I 'dared' to try out with our kid. Enjoy! Damjana