A fun heart-themed sensory play with real crunch – your kids will break some hearts with this fun Baked Cotton Ball Sensory Activity for Valentine’s Day.
Baked Cotton Ball Sensory Play
Okay… this is a bit embarrassing.
It has been over a year since I mentioned this activity in our Chalkboard & Lovebugs Valentine’s Day Party. I think that’s my problem with being so holiday-obsessed, I’m constantly on to the next holiday and occasion… and sometimes things like this fun sensory play idea get left behind.
My daughter helped me prepare these baked cotton ball hearts for our Valentine’s Day parties and they were so much fun for the kids to hammer, rip apart and otherwise break! The kids loved the crunchy yet squishy texture of the baked cotton balls – you’re basically coating cotton balls in a paper mache mixture and hardening it.
They loved hammering and crunching through the tough coating and feeling it give way to the soft cotton balls. It is really satisfying sensory play – especially if you have a little one who loves hammering or using tools!
You can modify this recipe to fit just about any theme! We’re going to do a rainbow theme next (and with my current turn-around, you can expect to see that next year), and you can even just do individual cotton balls for kids to smash whenever they feel like!
They take about 5 minutes to make and then 2 hours to fully dry after the 45 minutes baking, so plan accordingly.
PS – I also have to give a shout-out to my friend, Mary Catherine’s heartbreakers candy activity which also lets kids use real tools to break some candy hearts.
Materials to Make Baked Cotton Ball Hearts
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- Paint or food dye
- Cotton balls
- Cookie sheet
- Non-stick baking spray
- Hammers, tools
Tip: have a surface or container for the kids to smash the hearts on/in. We put down a tarp and then used individual cookie sheets for each kid.
How to Make Baked Cotton Ball Hearts
Preheat your oven to 300F
Combine the flour and water, then dye as desired.
We wanted some purple hearts and some pink, so we split the paper mache mixture and dyed one bowl of each.
Draw your heart shapes on a piece of tinfoil and place on a cookie sheet.
I would also suggest using some non-stick cooking spray – we didn’t and bits of tinfoil stuck to the bottom of one of the hearts.
Dip the cotton balls in the paper mache mixture and coat thoroughly.
Arrange the coated cotton balls on the tinfoil in the heart shape.
Fill the heart shape, ensuring the cotton balls are touching so the shape bakes and forms together.
Bake for 45 minutes, then allow to cool and harden on the cookie sheet.
Then grab a bunch of tools, set the kids up somewhere where you don’t mind some “construction dust” and let them get to work!
Grab your free printable for our Valentine’s Day Baked Cotton Ball Play:
This crunchy and satisfying sensory play is a unique activity for kids – and a fun way to work off some steam!
Check out 23 more Heart-themed activities for kids from my fellow bloggers below:
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Heart Letter Puzzles // Pocket of Preschool
Valentine Hearts Ten Frame Clip Cards // Mrs. Jones Creation Station
Heart Digraph Puzzles // The Kindergarten Connection
Printable Valentine’s Math Activities // Stay at Home Educator
Alphabet Hearts // Playdough to Plato
Valentine’s Day Emergent Reader // Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten
Heart Syllable Sort // Recipe for Teaching
Candy Hearts Count and Clip Cards // Modern Preschool
CVC Hearts // The Primary Post
Valentine’s Day Number Recognition Bingo Game // Schooling a Monkey
Valentine’s Day Activities (Heart Craft & Cutting Practice) // Fairy Poppins
Heart Counting Cards // Powerful Mothering
Sorting Hearts Fine Motor Tray // Teach Me Mommy
Candy Heart Estimation Station // The STEM Laboratory
Contraction Conversation Hearts // The Simplified Classroom
Chocolate Heart Play Dough Mats // Fantastic Fun and Learning
Jar of Hearts: Editable Sight Words to Read and Write // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Hearts Make Ten Game // Sara J Creations
Heart Roll, Cover and Write Mats // Fun Learning for Kids
Heart Ice and Oil Density Experiment // Science Kiddo
Candy Heart Sentences // Pages of Grace
Heart Sight Word Match // The Letters of Literacy
Heart Name Crafts // Fun-A-Day