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Exploring our senses: 5 Creative Ways to Use Dried Botanicals in Sensory Play

Exploring our senses: 5 Creative Ways to Use Dried Botanicals in Sensory Play
Sensory play , the most wonderful way for children to engage their senses, explore their surroundings, and enhance their development. Adding natural elements to sensory play can elevate the experience, and our dried botanicals offer a world of possibilities. In this blog post, we will explore five creative ways to incorporate our dried botanicals into sensory play activities, providing children with a multi sensory and enriching play opportunities.

We thought we would try something a little different and include some references to the Early Years Learning Framework for our Early Childhood educators, we would love to hear your thoughts on this so don't be shy to throw us a comment below.

1. Sensory exploration station (AKA open-ended sensory play)

Create a captivating exploration station, outside or inside, with our without a mud kitchen or sensory table. All you need is some tubs or an old sink. Set up a variety of our dried botanicals, wild tree tools, sorting containers, old utensils, magnify glass and scales, scales are fun for adding a touch of numeracy. To extend on this play try adding other elements such as coloured rice, sand, or chickpea foam for additional sensory input and a little bit of mess!

2. Dried citrus stampers with Dried botanical dough

Enhance the sensory experience of playdough by infusing it with the aromatic scents of dried botanicals. Start by making a basic playdough recipe, then incorporate finely ground dried lavender, rose petals, or chamomile flowers into the mixture. As children mould and manipulate the playdough, they'll enjoy the soothing scents and develop their fine motor skills simultaneously. *Try using our dried orange slices to make prints! 

Additional play dough fun- Citrus dough

Add a dab of yellow food colouring and turmeric to dye your dough and add a squeeze of lemon & citrus essential oils. You wont be disappointed here, It’s smells so gooooood!!

P.S Children may learn what "sour" is, if or when they have a taste (definitely not advised obviously, but very likely)

P.S.S Adding more turmeric does not make your playdough more orange, but it does make your hands more yellow! 

3. Nature-inspired Art- DIY Rain Sticks

Encourage creativity and artistic expression by incorporating dried botanicals into arts and crafts projects. Provide children with a variety of dried flowers, leaves, and seeds. They can arrange them on paper or canvas, creating beautiful nature-inspired collages or using them as stamps for painting.

Try the following steps for a DIY rain stick

*Using rice grains fill a toilet roll, add masking tape at either end to secure *Roll in tissue paper and use PVA glue to decorate with dried botanicals.
*Leave them to dry overnight and shake, shake, shake (this gloomy weather is calling you)

4. Frozen Ice Eggs & Fossil hunting

Frozen ice eggs with dried botanicals offer a delightful sensory play experience that combines nature, creativity and a good dose of science! Give it a try and see how your child reacts to the frozen treasures hidden within! As the ice melts away, the dried botanicals will release their aroma and add a sensory dimension to the activity. Your child can feel, smell, and see the botanicals in the ice, which can spark their curiosity and imagination.


*Collect up your egg shells by cracking your eggs near the top.

*Fill them with dried botanicals and mini dinosaurs or small toys

*Add water and pop them in the freezer, freeze overnight or until completely solid. (You can peel them like an egg which is great for little hands)



*Set up a dedicated space for the excavation activity (digging patch, sandpit, tubs of dirt)

*Bury your frozen eggs (keep this part a secret)

*Add tools for excavation (e.g., spoons, spray bottles with warm water, small brushes)

5. Tea parties and sunshine soup

Engage multiple senses by creating herbal sensory tea and sunshine soup to your imaginative play experiences.


Combine dried botanicals, teacups, teapot, water play, teaspoons, bowls. Children can mix and match different botanicals to create their own sensory tea blends. As they mix their tea, the botanicals will let our some gorgeous scents, children can engage in calming rituals and experience a multisensory journey.

*Make up a mix of marigold, calendula flowers and a dash of turmeric for a bright yellow colour.

*Add all the yellow flowers you can find and mix, mix, mix!

What Early Years Learning Outcomes and Developmental milestones are associated with these sensory experiences?

"Through these play experiences, children will have the opportunity to use their sensory capabilities and dispositions with increasing integration, skill and purpose to explore and respond to their world. " (.LEARNING OUTCOME 3: CHILDREN HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF WELLBEING- EYLF)

Open-ended sensory exploration supports cognitive development as children actively explore and investigate their environment. Language skills are developed as children express and label their thoughts, feelings, and sensory preferences. Children's motor skills are developed as they use their hands, arms and body to explore movement and patterns.


Play Schemas that can be promoted through sensory play

Play schemas are patterns of play that children use to make sense of the world around them. At different times in young children's lives, play schemas can appear more obvious. Sensory play provides children with limitless opportunities to explore their environment, experiment with materials, and engage in different schemas. By providing materials and opportunities that align with different schemas, children can continue to explore and engage with their environment in meaningful ways. Here are a few examples of play schemas that can be observed during our 5 sensory play idea;


  • Trajectory: This schema involves exploring movement and the effects of force on objects. Children may use these sensory materials to experiment with throwing, dropping, or rolling.
  • Enveloping: This schema involves covering or surrounding objects with other items. These activities offer children the opportunity to engage in enveloping play through burying and hiding objects.
  • Transporting: This schema involves moving objects from one place to another. During this play, children may transport materials from one container to another, pour liquids from one vessel to another, or move objects around their environment.
  • Rotation: This schema involves exploring circular movements and how they affect objects. Children may use their sensory materials to spin, twirl, or stir them, observing the patterns and movements they create.
  • Transforming. This schema involves children turning one thing into another. (AKA sunshine soup)

Suggested Intentional teaching strategies to support sensory play

Educators and Parents can support children by providing a wide range of intentional strategies to support children's developmental skills. Choosing when to interact with children can be a bit of a guessing game, it is important to sit back and consider if your timing for asking a question or inviting yourself into the play. Sometimes our purpose is merely to observe and supervise.

If you a looking for some prompts the following strategies can guide these sensory play experiences;

  • *Ask a variety of thought provoking open questions that start with words such as, "tell me about", "what do you think", "how can we find out".
  • *Provide time and opportunities for children to engage independently with tasks and play
  • *Display delight, encouragement and enthusiasm for children’s attempts and listen carefully as children hypothesise and expand on their thinking through conversation and questioning.
  • *Provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment and a wide range of tools and materials to resource their motor skills
  • *Embed sustainability in daily routines and practices (our most favourite and important past time)
  • Final thoughts on incorporating dried botanicals into sensory play

Sensory play offers delightful, open-ended and educational experiences for children. From basic sensory trays and scented playdough to nature-inspired art and fossil hunting, these creative ideas engage multiple senses. By bringing the natural world into sensory play, children can develop a deeper connection with nature and enjoy the beauty and wonder of our dried botanicals in a hands-on and meaningful way.

We have a large range of botanicals available instore to help recreate some of these ideas.

Blog References

1)Developmental milestones and the EYLF/NQS

2)BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia


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