We first discovered this stuff when some was included in our sensory play in a box from Dragon Sensory. In this instance we had a small box of the red jelly and I decided to add some water beads to make a whole new texture. It was an instant hit. Since then I’ve brought lots more boxes of Gelli Baff and come up with various activities and ideas you can use for sensory play.
If you haven’t heard of it before, Gelli Baff is a product that turns water into jelly that you can put in your bath (see what they did there!?). There are also slime and snow version available. Of all the times we’ve played with Gelli Baff we’ve only put it in the bath once. And that was only because Smallest Child had got herself into such a mess it just made sense! Typically we use it in smaller quantities for sensory play. There are so many different ways to play with Gelli Baff I thought I’d share some of my favourite activities and ideas.
When you’re making your Gelli Baff make sure you give it time to thicken before deciding if you need to add more powder. It takes up to five minutes to thicken fully and,it’s easier to add some extra water if you do need to loosen it up. It’s very easy to end up with a much thicker goop than you intended if you don’t give it time.
Put it in the bath or paddling pool
First up, the reason that it was invented – you can just Gelli Baff in the bath or paddling pool. Personally I think it’s better to use it in the paddling pool. You can’t make the bath too deep with this stuff in it, which kind of defeats the purpose of a bath in the first place! We’ve used it in the paddling pool and it’s so much fun. It really doesn’t matter if it goes everywhere because, according to the website, it’s safe to use outside and bio-degradeable.
Arctic sensory bin
A lot of the different ways that you can play with Gelli Baff comes from the variety of textures that you can make it into. We made a very thick batch of blue Gelli Baff and then left it in our garage overnight to make it very cold. You can also make it using very cold water if you want to – I’d just made various batches for different sensory activities and wanted to use this the next day.
When you make the blue gel thick enough and break it up it actually looks white. We used a small tub and added in some arctic animals. Because the gel was so cold it allowed lots of conversations about temperatures etc. Smallest Child also built a little “igloo” for the penguin by burrowing out a little hole for him.
Swamp Sensory Bin
This swamp sensory bin from No time for flash cards uses gelatine and kool-aid to make the swamp. I think something like Slime Baff would work better for this as it give a slimier texture. Just use the green slime and add in crocodiles, frogs, snakes and bugs. They also suggest using slices of swimming pool noodle as stepping stones for the animals.
Coloured ice cubes and thick Gelli Baff
Adding ice and using different colours introduces loads of different elements to paying with Gelli Baff. The night before we did this activity I froze some ice cubes with food colouring in them (multiple colours). We then made up three different colours of quite thick Gelli Baff and placed the ice cubes on top. The idea is that the ice cubes would thin the jelly out as they melted. We also had a bowl of warm water on standby in case of chilly fingers (mainly mine!!). Smallest Child absolutely loved the way that the ice cubes coloured the jelly. We also added extra water to help melt the ice. Because there were so many different colours involved it proved to be a great opportunity to explore colour mixing. In the end we had made a weird, sandy brown colour. Just like almost every single paint mix ends up brown!!!
Dinosaur swamp sensory bin
A variation on the swamp is a gelli baff dinosaur sensory bin. Red or green work well for this (red could be lava from a volcano, green the grass). The best texture for this is slightly thicker than the instructions. Add in a small bowl of water to act as a watering hole, some plastic trees and dinosaurs and you’re good to go. Depending on the size of your dinosaurs this might be a good one to do in either a large or small tub.
Waterbeads and Gelli Baff
To get a brilliant consistency for this you want the Gelli Baff to be really quite watery. Don’t forget the water beads will suck some of the water up as well, unless they’re 100% expanded already, so you may end up adding some extra water. The mixture of gloopy Gelli Baff and lumpy waterbeads makes for really good sensory play. You can pour it, use funnels, fill up bottles or even put it through a colander. If you want to make this into a theme then why not use just clear water beads to blue or green Gelli Baff to make frogspawn.
Number and letter recognition games
Because Gelli Baff is quite difficult to see through when it’s thick one really good activity idea is to hide stuff in it. Hide plastic letters and numbers in the gelli and get your child to find them, naming each one as they go.
Ocean themed fine motor skills game
This Gelli Baff activity uses gator tweezers to help you little ones practice their fine motor skills. We used blue Gelli Baff that was relatively thin and hid lots of small sea creatures. She then had to use the toddler tweezers to “rescue” all of the animals. We used quite a lot of the jelly so it was quite deep. She also had a fishing net on hand to help scoop them out of the “water”
Use Gelli Baff like kinetic sand
You may not have thought of this but, if you make it thick enough, you can actually use it a bit like kinetic sand. You can form balls out of it, makes “cakes” and “cookies” with it and lots of other shapes. I’m a big fan of kinetic sand, and this makes an interesting alternative.
Gelli Baff play ideas – it’s not just for toddlers!
I hope that you’ve found these 9 Gelli Baff play ideas and activities useful. Alongside things like our rainbow rice, Gelli Baff has become a sensory play staple in our house. It’s not just for the little ones though. All of the kids (and actually me as well) find playing with this stuff strangely therapeutic! If you’ve got pre-schoolers at home have a look at the toddler activity and crafts section of the website for lots more ideas to help keep the kids entertained.
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