Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sensory FAIL

My nephew is incredibly active and curious. Toys and gadgets don't keep him entertained for long. He wants to be exploring, dismantling, jumping, and moving. The two things he'll sit still for are Elmo music videos and videos of himself. While this really is cute and funny, I know it wears my sister out. She is a trooper though and has worked hard to find activities for him to do that will help keep his attention, focus his curiosity, and let him explore things. She's found things that work well...she's found things that don't work (she's kept a log of the various toddler/baby activities, which you can find here). Anytime I see something cool on Pinterest for her to try out with her boy I tag her in it. She probably gets tired of her obnoxious childless (okay...technically I do have a child right now, but I'm not really raising him yet...just growing him) older sister sending her activities and links...but what is an older sister for but to annoy and meddle? Two traits I found I mastered in my life (I'm typing up my old journals from when I was a kid...if I weren't already pregnant that'd serve as a pretty good prevention technique). Today's post has an activity I would have definitely tagged and sent to her on Pinterest. It looks like a blast. Sarah thought it looked like a great idea as well. Bubble Wrap and shaving cream combined into a fun kid's activity? What could go wrong?! 

The Original Pin
Look how happy she is! It makes me want to play in shaving cream and bubble wrap. Ultimate slip and slide?! 

Sarah says, "I was trying to get creative with sensory activities for my boys. Enter, Pinterest's "The Bubble Wrap Sensory Slide". The picture of the adorable little girl looking thoroughly pleased and shrieking with joy as she played in the bubble wrap and shaving cream had me sold...Shame on me for thinking this seemingly effortless activity would turn out like it was supposed to AND that my kids would actually enjoy it.  I recruited my mom to bring us bubble wrap from work, went to the dollar store and stocked up on shaving cream and planned the showdown with the ever-fickle game of perfectly timing organized activities with nap time, meal time, potty time, daddy-comes-home time, bed time, etc. I put a notable amount of energy into making this deceptively uncomplicated project into a three-minute reality for my family."

"It is important to note that my children are familiar with both shaving cream and bubble wrap. This is how it played out:"

The Pinstrosity
I'll just give you Sarah's play by play in her own words:
  • Laying out the bubble wrap on the grass really just involved me chasing it around the yard as it blew in the wind."
  • It took more than five 12-oz cans of shaving cream for "desired effect".
  • The kids wanted *nothing* to do with that strange mess mommy made on the ground.
  • After I enthusiastically demonstrated what they were supposed to do by jumping up and down, popping bubble wrap with my feet and using my best supportive and overdone, over-zealous mom voice to encourage their participation (and realizing it is way harder than it looks to stand on slippery plastic covered in shaving cream), I picked up each boy and set them right on top of the bubble wrap and made them try it.
  • My 16-month-old sprung right up and off the bubble wrap like a wind-up toy the second I set him down. I'm pretty sure he levitated; irate baby #1.

  • My almost-3-year-old stood up and fell down and stood up again then tried to walk but the bubble wrap stuck to his feet as he tried to walk away and it "followed him" - you can feel the passion in his fury in these pictures. 

  • The worst part of the bubble wrap sensory slide was every time you lifted your foot to walk or take a step, the bubble wrap would stick to your feet; it stuck to everything.
  • It was over in three minutes.
  • Side note: Food coloring plus children is a stupid idea.
  • Thank you Pinterest, for underhandedly bringing me an experience of foolishness I never knew existed, in front of my children, husband and on-looking neighbors. Not cool, Pinterest...not cool.
Poor Sarah! All that hard work and excited anticipation for a let down. Magdelyn and Stephanie I'm sure could say, "I know how you feel!". Even though I don't have kids yet, I feel like I can commiserate as I do with with the teenage girls at church (I love them, but sometimes I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall). Having a highly anticipated activity flop is so disheartening. But kids' fickleness does have a a year, this activity could be the coolest thing those to boys can imagine. Or it could be a repeat trauma for all involved. I'd give out advice on how to help a kid like an activity like this or on how to try this activity again and making it a positive experience...but I'm pretty much a zero on the experience meter here. Oh I could make something up and still give out ideas and advice...but I don't imagine that'd be all that helpful, lol. Mom's out there...any suggestions?  


  1. So sorry Sarah that your boys didn't like the feel of the crème--their expressions are priceless thou. Maybe anchoring the ends/middle sides with spikes or rocks ---plus spray water on the bubble wrap to keep the crème from sticking to the plastic.
    This could be an adult pool party game--just saying lol.

  2. Love your definition of an older sister's 'duties'! LOL All it took for this older sister to keep her 3 yr old nephew entertained for HOURS was to dig a 2'x2'x6" deep hole is Sis's yard... and hand said BOY his dump trucks and front end loaders. It was almost scary how focused he was on dirt play!

    Of course a bath for one very dusty boy was needed that night...

  3. I'm sorry to have chuckled my way through this post but it was very well written and the pics are awesome. Poor kiddos! lol

  4. Well but the pictures are really funny :)

  5. I have been offering sensory play in my child care program for years and NO not all kids like it - I would suggest starting off slow - maybe put the bubble wrap on the bottom of a short tote and add the shaving creme to it and let them rub their hands over it and experience it first a few times. As for the dye that is a HUGE no way! we use liquid watercolor paint: (

    Here is a link to my kids using the watercolors and shaving cream outside just on top of the picnic table always make sure to offer a spoon, brush or something so they can try it with out getting messy once they are comfortable I assure you they will be in it up to their eyeballs!

    I suggest working up to a large scale activity - but do try it again!

  6. I apologize for being a horrid human being and laughing. They are so not having it.

    This is the kind of thing that needs to be anchored down on a firm surface. Preferably without dye.

  7. I wonder about using some blue gel shaving cream, if you wanted some color. It does turn white once it's agitated, but would be blue for a little bit?

  8. I don't have kids, so this -might- be a really stupid thing for me to say, but did you ask them if it looked fun before you started working on it?

  9. I second: anchor down the bubble wrap, not all children enjoy sensory activities like this (it can actually be physically painful for children with sensory sensitivities), work into it slowly.

    Something not already said: Involve the kids in the making of the mess! Some children might be more interested in exploring if they get to put the shaving cream on the bubble wrap (and there's a hidden plus here: fine motor skills!)

    Also, try liquid watercolors instead of food coloring. It easily washes off or skin and out of clothes!

    -Preschool teacher and awesome aunt to 1.25 :D

  10. I'm howling with laughter over the pictures & the play by play!

  11. This is the funniest thing I've read today. Thanks for sharing your horrible experience!

  12. Oh yes- last summer I thought my kids would LOVE going down the slide covered in shaving cream... nope. Not one of the 5 would so much as touch it! Ugh.

  13. Okay, so that made me laugh a bit. Haha! Even though it might seem like a great Pinterest idea, I think Sarah should have considered how her kids would find the experience. Each kid has a different personality and different quirks and traits. Some would find this activity enjoyable, while some would not.
    Clay Delgado

  14. Has anyone else's kids rubbed their eyes during these sensory play activities? The soap and all? Please tell me I'm not the only one. Just holding my little sweety after he rubbed his eyes while we were making cornstarch putty with dish soap. Went downhill very quick.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.