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The Transforming Schema

A child exploring a transformation schema will have an interest in changing materials. You may find that they enjoy mixing sand and water, adding water to their food in addition to transforming themselves by drawing and painting on their body. 

Sensory and messy play ideas


There are lots of simple ways to explore a transforming schema by simply combining two materials. Here is a list of simple sensory and messy play ideas that involve two materials, however, you can add as many as you want:

  • Water and shaving foam

  • Water and fairy liquid

  • Water and glitter

  • Sand and water

  • Sand and mud

  • Clay and water

  • Shaving foam and glitter 


Mark making ideas


Mark making is a great way for children to explore how they can change an item or material, you can:

  • Paint pebbles or concrete with water.

  • Paint windows or clear Perspex.

  • Add shaving foam to a tray and mix in a small amount of paint, place some paper on top to see how it creates marks.

  • Add fairy liquid to paint, blow through a straw to create bubbles in it and add a piece of paper on top to create bubble marks. 

Treasure Basket Ideas

Put together treasure baskets that allow children to explore how items are combined and how they change: 

  • Dried pasta: give children containers and mixing tools alongside different types of pasta.

  • Layered sensory bottles: create a layered sensory bottle using water, vegetable oil and washing up liquid. As children shake the bottles they will see the liquids mix, and you can add more materials to the bottles such as glitter and water beads.

  • Malleable materials: add malleable materials to a resealable bag (slime, play dough or clay). Children can transform the materials by squeezing the bag. 

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