Alphabet Sensory Play: One Toy, Three Ways

[Andrew: Last night, Dear and I were just discussing how we think this blog might evolve as the years go by and eventually Dylan and our daughter might even start contributing to it when they can start writing! So cute – well, this entry will be one with Dear and Dylan’s voice!]

Jasmine: Yes, Dylan is too young to recognise letters (Dylan: Mummy, don’t under-estimate me! Such negative talk is bad for children’s self-esteem, according to research) but I thought there were many things he could still do with them! This post details how we played with alphabet magnets in three different ways.

I had been on the lookout for alphabet magnets for ages but most were upper case only and rather expensive. Then we came across this pack of magnets from Toys ‘R’ Us with both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers for half the price, so we bought it!

Dylan: Mummy and Daddy were shopping for presents for my friend Bruce’s birthday – he got Duplo, a Lego luggage tag and a nice Toys R Us  eco bag. All I got was this pack of cheapo letters… I tried sneakily taking the luggage tag away from Bruce’s bag before the party, but Mummy spotted it and put it back. Hmph!

Play Method 1: Magnets

Jasmine: This was obvious. Dilly liked playing with the magnets as they were. He enjoyed sliding them around the fridge…

Dylan: Actually Mummy, I look kinda bored in this pic and am staring at the floor. Are you sure I ‘enjoyed’ it?

Jasmine: No baby, I’m quite sure you were looking at the letters.

Dylan: Daddy! We will let you be the final judge of that… Oh, you weren’t even there? Where are you when we need you?


Jasmine: And also got a bit frustrated when we put them on a baking tray, coz he couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t come off.


Make it fall!

Dylan: This tray looks very familiar…  They make my cheese toast on it every morning! But why is there plastic instead of bread on my tray?? Grrr!

Play Method 2: Lavender Rice Sensory Bin

Jasmine: I finally got around to doing this- or rather, telling Andrew how to set it up. It was really easy! We got an old ice-cream tub, filled it with rice and the letters of Dylan’s name. We then added a few drops of lavender essential oil from Tasmania, which combined with the rustling sound of the grains, made for a very calming pre-bedtime sensory routine. (Dylan: Yea, like I said – my friend Bruce got Duplo from Mummy and I get to play with… rice with leftover lavender oil that Mummy got from two years ago. Anyway, what’s the point of putting my name there, Mummy, since you said earlier that I’m too young to recognise letters? Something’s wrong with your pedagogy, or in my case, baby-gogy…  Hmph.)

Actually Dilly, using your name was Daddy’s idea. HAHAHA.


Dylan managed to excavate all the letters!


Dylan, reporting for clean-up duty!

(Dylan: Actually mummy, clean-up is Daddy’s duty – mess-up is mine!)

Jasmine: We then extended the activity by moving him into the bathtub and letting him sweep up the rice with his little dustpan. (Dylan: Child labour at its finest – Daddy tried getting me to sweep up the rice from the floor later, but I just swept it all over the floor even more!! Hahaha!)


Result: A little boy who can’t sit still for 5 minutes sat and played for 45 min! (Dylan: Hey – weren’t you happy just a few posts ago that I could walk and now you’re saying I can’t sit still for 5 minutes? Make up your mind, Mummy!)

Jasmine: On a sidenote, I’d been debating whether to buy Dyl some kinetic sand. I guess the success of this rice sensory bin pretty much confirms it! (Dylan: Oh man, I’m soooo privileged – from playing with rice and now to sand… Somebody PLEASE get me a Lego set! Anyone who reads this blog, please! …Granny??)

Play Method 3: Alphabet Water Play

Jasmine: So I have to be very honest in admitting that this was not my best sensory activity. In fact, the epic failure of this activity the first time made me seriously reconsider doing sensory toys and just buying more toys off Amazon instead. I actually did this activity three times!

The basic idea was to help Dylan discover and explore letters, by freezing them in ice cubes.20140515-132310.jpg

The first couple times, I put the ice cubes in a tub of water for Dylan (and Agnes joined the second time) to play with. It worked for about 10 minutes, with the babies sucking on the ice, smearing the melting colours, but after that, it descended into chaos as the floor was so wet and the babies were just slipping and sliding everywhere. Poor little Dyl even slipped and bumped his cheek.


Think I’m going to go into sensory activity retirement now. Thanks for listening.

Dylan: Yay! So now I can get my Lego set…

Jasmine: Actually baby, your new toys from Amazon just arrived today.

Dylan: Yay!  Thanks Mummy! They better be good or I’ll blog about them…. But please don’t put me in the Amazon box again.

Jasmine: I was on the verge of giving up, but Andrew, of all people, came to the rescue and had the idea of making bigger ice-cubes as they melted too quickly! (Dylan: Nooo Daddy… why do you hate me? I thought I was done with these sensory play activities!) He found these small tupperwares and made these:


Jasmine: This time, we put Dyl in the tub with the alphabet “boats” and it was the most successful of the three attempts, as Dylan got to feel the temperature difference between the ice and water, see the colours run and pull the encased letters out from the ice as it melted. (Since food coloring was used, we do suggest hosing baby down after the activity.)         IMG_5633 IMG_5636

Dylan: Ooh, yummy! These are like little popsicles!

Next, we are probably going to go with Steffy’s suggestion and use fruit juice instead of food coloring, to add a dimension of taste to the sensory play.


Dylan: So that’s the end of Mummy’s sensory activities… hopefully I’ll be getting some real toys soon, like dump trucks and Lego? But I just overheard Mummy asking Daddy why the ice cubes melted so quickly (unlike the cubes in her Milo??)… Hopefully Mummy won’t consider using Milo as my next sensory activity or I will keep her up all night! Anyway, you’ll see in the next blog post that Mummy finally bought me some real toys! Look out for that 🙂


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