Swamp Sensory Tub

It’s gooey , it’s gross and it’s green! It’s a swamp and this sensory play idea was a huge hit with both my 5 year old and my toddler. It was surprisingly easy to make and a great way to spend some chill time outside. Sensory play is so much more than squishing things it’s about discovering with all your senses and pretend play as well. My kids spent a good about of time simply making sounds with the goo, sounds like glurp, goop, glug, squish , slip , slurp. It was fun to see how they both narrated their experience and the giggles were amazing too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some gelatin ( I used plain because I had it on hand and added kool-aid for color but plain jello without the sugar should work too). You will also need a large container,  pool noodle, some plastic swamp creatures, water and a large tub or water table to play in.sensory fun for kids
  2. My daughter helped me make the gelatin. I followed the directions on the back for fruit jellies doubling the recipe.fun things for kids
  3. I love that by using kool-aid the gelatin smells awesome and is so tart even if kids do taste it , they spit it out. Also I used this old animal cracker container because it was a perfect fit for a space I had in my fridge. And it had a lid which was important since it was at kid level too. We let the gelatin set overnight in the fridge even though ours was ready to go in about 3 hours.
  4. We cleaned the water table ( it had dirt and rocks in it from our last play adventure) – this was an activity all on it’s own.
  5. Then the next morning after the gelatin was nice and set I filled one side with the gelatin and the other with water – added sliced pieces of pool noodle for lily pads and just enough creatures to invite play.
  6. And play they did.sensory tub ideas
  7. My son loved flopping the gelatin into the water side and it was neat to see how it would sink  to the bottom.sensory tub with jello
  8. My daughter loved squishing and squishing and squishing . I just kept taking pictures and soaking up the giggles. Did I mention it smelled amazing too, much better than a real swamp.jello sensory bin
  9. In the afternoon the sun melted the gelatin and my kids were bummed but we covered it and sure enough the next morning it was all congealed again and they had an absolute blast pulling the creatures out of the goo,sensory ideas for toddlers and we noticed the imprints they made too.  gelatin sensory bin We’ll see how many days we can keep it going!
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  1. says

    I love this! Jello is one of our favorite sensory materials.

    • admin says

      I did and because you asked that let me go make it more clear in the post. However since putting it into our water table it melts every afternoon and re-congeals by morning. Albeit we are in the Seattle area and it gets cool at night still. I think tomorrow will be it’s last day though it’s getting a little ew.

  2. Carey C says

    Hey, I have a couple questions. This is a great idea but mine didn’t turn out like yours. Can you plz give me the exact recipe for the mixture you made? My gelatin packets did not have a recipe for ‘fruit jellies’ on them so I guess I didn’t do it right. Do I need to add juice or what ingredients to the mixture?

    Also, how did you cut the pool noodles to look like flowers? Was it a big or small pool noodle?

    I would appreciate any details of the instructions you can give. Thanks so much!!

    • admin says

      This is the recipe : Sprinkle 2 packets of unflavored gelatine over 1 cup (250 mL) cold water( I added koolaid in cold ) ; let stand 1 minute. Add 3 cups (750 mL) water , heated to boiling and stir until gelatine is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Sweeten to taste, then chill and serve as above.

      I doubled this ( 4 packets total)

      I hope that helps!

  3. Cheryl says

    We did this today 🙂 The kids really enjoyed it – thanks for sharing. Wish I had noticed you posted the recipe before now – but it worked out 🙂 Even my ten-year-old had a lot of fun.

  4. Emma says

    Just wondering if Jelly (I am from England so not jam type jelly) would work as well? I may try this, during the week – am debating combining this and the ice shapes I have seen on some other sites. Many thanks for the lovely ideas

    • Allison McDonald says

      Goodness this is late, pool noodles are the long foam floats you find at pools and Koolaid is a powdered drink mix with great artificial colors and flavors… not sure you can call it food though.

  5. Valerie says

    I want to do this for my 3 yr old granddaughters birthday party but my daughter thinks it will be too messy for a party. Does the green in the kool aid stain the kids hands or clothes, and how easy is it to clean up. Does it totally dissolve or leave something funky in the grass. Thank you for your help.

    • Allison McDonald says

      It didn’t stain our hands or clothes at all, it’s just regular jello – but we wiped them immediately after playing which is easier with two kids vs. a party. It will leave something funky in the grass if it’s hot out for sure. I threw the bulk of the goo away ( into our yard waste bin actually) and then let the kids help me clean it.


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