To explore many of the the traditions of the Lunar New Year inviting a child to explore one of the symbols the citrus fruit which represents promising luck, prosperity, and a long life is a fun way to learn about the culture. Having mandarin oranges around the during the New Year is said to bring riches into your life. Before engaging in creating the sensory soup you can bring items from the holidays such as the lucky red envelope, money, tigers, mandarins, fire crackers, dragon, cherry blossoms, and more to open up a discussion about all of the beautiful aspects of the Lunar New Year.
Next you can set up a sensory bin with water, sliced citrus, chop sticks, tongs, ladles, and cups. We are lucky enough to have an orange tree at one of our center that is overflowing with oranges so we sliced some up and placed it in the sensory bin. Simply invite the child to explore by inviting them to make sensory soup.
Making pretend soup with a variety of materials is not only a great way for the children to enjoy some water play with but it can incorporate exploring so many senses. Children are able to scoop, pour & transfer materials from one container into another with a variety of utensils & containers. The containers & utensils help encourage exploration of measuring & mixing. Whenever water play is incorporated in an invitation it fosters creativity & enables children to experiment with science & math concepts. Children begin to understand & investigate with ideas such as more/less, same/different, many/few, empty/full, before/after, greater than/less than. Children also learn physics principles such as the effects of force (increasing the water flow through increased force); effects of gravity (water runs downhill) etc. With all that math & science happening in an open ended way there is plenty of language development when a child discusses the ingredients, how they will create their mixtures, & so forth. The social learnings from water play include collaboration, concentration, turn taking, problem solving, perseverance, self-regulation, & more. Children also gain physical learning through water play, such as precision in pouring, eye-hand coordination, & other skills. Exploring water combined with materials is captivating, engaging, engrossing & absorbing to almost all children.