I didn’t get around to sharing this awesome Brain Dissection sensory play idea last year, though I did give you a sneak peek on my Instagram account. Ella loved it so much that we’ve already done it again this year as part of our Kids’ Science Party (which I will also share with you soon).
(If this isn’t your thing, check out our other sensory play ideas here.)
This was not only a really engaging and fun sensory activity, we also used it to learn about the different parts of the brain (something Ella had shown interest in) and work on our fine motor skills using “brain dissection tools.”
Presenting the brain on a large platter not only gave Ella a designated surface to play in, it also made clean up really easy – I just took the platter over to the sink and rinsed it off after she was done playing. (And then took her to the bath and did the same thing.)
How to Make a Brain Dissection Sensory Play Invitation
This sensory play activity didn’t use many materials, but the materials were very specific:
- Brain Jell-O mold
- Cake decorating tools
- 3-4 packets red or pink Jell-O (plus ingredients)
- Bowl of warm water
- Tray for playing on
If you are not very confident in your knowledge of the brain, feel free to also have a phone or computer within the area (but far away enough from the Jell-O) to consult with any questions that come up during your brain dissection. If your child isn’t squeamish, there are probably some cool Youtube videos they can watch during their “operation.”
Making the brain, ensure you follow the directions on your Jell-O box to make Jell-O intended for a mold – it requires slightly less cool water than regular Jell-O.
Make the Jell-O and place it in the brain mold. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Remove from the fridge shortly before you are ready to use it – it will melt if left out at room temperature for too long.
When it is set, place the brain mold in the bowl of warm water to loosen the Jell-O for easy removal.
Place on your tray and get to work!
We started off without the tools – simply feeling the brain, noticing the bumps and “little roads” that made up the texture and funny appearance. Ella was also really fascinated by the hemisphere division that runs down the center of the brain and learned that brains have left and right hemispheres.
Next, she picked up the “scalpel” and got to work. This was a lot of fun and we talked about which parts of the brain she was cutting into and what those parts are responsible for. She was surprised that scientists don’t know everything about the brain and how it works – that we really only know a small portion – but after a while she was excited that discoveries are still possible to be made!
We noticed that different tools cut into the brain differently, and played at our dissection for at least 20 minutes…
And then, well, um… this happened:
Yup, this turned into a taste sensory experiment! There are few things weirder than your child exclaiming, “Brains are delicious!”
I was completely okay with this turn of events (and had expected it) but if you’re not okay with your child tasting the Jell-O (especially if you’re doing this activity with a group) then it may be prudent to go over your expectations before the experiment – and maybe serve them just as fun of a snack so that they are not hungry when doing this.
After tasting, Ella squished up the brain with her hands and continued to experiment with the “surgery tools.” All in all, I would say she got at least an hour’s worth of sensory play out of this and if I really wanted to, I could have placed those bits of Jell-O back in a container in the fridge and used them again for another sensory play activity.
This has got to be one of our favourite sensory play activities that we have ever done – there were so many elements to it, despite it being super simple and affordable to set up. The brain mold is re-usable and then the cupcake tools are a great addition to a kids’ kitchen set – or if you want an excuse to treat yourself to some decorating tools! We purchased the silver tray for a party years ago and have gotten so much use out of it since, the cost per use is probably in the fraction of a penny area.
What do you think? Would you let your kids try this brain dissection activity?
If you end up buying the brain mold, check out this list of 5 Messy Play Surgery ideas you can use it with from my friend, Anne.