Bright and colorful sensory bags for preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on August 1, 2011

in DIY, Sensory Bags, Sensory Bags

I just love these sensory bags. Making them is just as much fun as feeling and playing with them…

To make these really cool sensory bags, all you need is some hair gel, baggies, and food color. I purchased hair gel from the Dollar Store and used food color that comes in tubes to make the bright colors…


Miss Lauren and I filled each Ziploc baggie with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hair gel and added some food color to get the bright colors. The yellow hair gel worked as well as the clear gel and it smelled great!

After adding the gel and food color to the baggies, we used clear packing tape to seal the top of the baggies…

Miss Lauren blended the gel and color after the baggies were sealed. The entire time Miss Lauren made these she kept saying, “This is really fun, I think this is one of the best things we have made all summer!” I agree – it is definitely something fun I will make with the children this school year…

To remove the Ziploc print from the baggie all you need is to lightly rub the white letters and symbols with a very little nail polish remover and a sponge and the white print will come right off – easy peazy…

In two of the sensory baggies, I added a few trinkets to explore as well. I want to make a variety of these with the children later on so I saved most of the trinkets for a later time…









For now, I will add my colorful sensory bags to a basket and include them in the science and sensory center as a choice for play…

That is if I can get Miss Lauren to stop playing with them…

 I did try them out with Wy and he loved them too…

The combination of bright colors and the cool feel to the touch and the gel texture makes them irresistable…

I am linking this post to: Share your Sunday Best and No Time for Flashcards!

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1 Carol August 1, 2011 at 12:54 am

So cool, gonna try this one.

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:22 am


3 Holly August 1, 2011 at 2:11 am

Oh, we are so doing this this week! Thanks once again for a great idea!

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

You are welcome Holly:)

5 Kelly August 1, 2011 at 2:43 am

Those are so cool! They would be great for practicing writing the letters of the alphabet, spelling, and sight words for the older kiddos.

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

I am finding so many uses for these – I am very excited…

7 Kristah August 1, 2011 at 8:08 am

If you ever see those sented body wash, they will make them smell too. I used to get them at Christmas time because they have weird scents and colors and cheap. Just dont use freezer bags or you wont be able to smell. I guess you could just add scents and make them what ever you want.

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

Scented body wash is a great idea. It would make your whole classroom smell so good:)

9 Mary @ Parenthood August 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Careful with highly scented things; chances are it will make at least one of your kids miserable (but they won’t know why). Speaking as someone who is highly allergic to scents! Otherwise neat idea!

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I know what you mean – I can sometimes get a tummy ache and sometimes a headache when I am around strong smelling perfumes and other scents like that.

11 Leslie August 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

I love all of the wonderful ideas that you come up with! This is a site that I recommend for all ;-)

12 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

Thank you Leslie:)

13 Mercedes Hayes August 1, 2011 at 9:37 am

I have done those with my sunday schoolers and they absolutely love them. Great ideas.

14 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

That’s awesome – it would make a very good and simple activity for Sunday School!

15 Sarah August 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

I LOVE this idea! I think we will try this by laying the baggies on printed letters and tracing the letters through the baggie. My son has no interest in writing so maybe this will be a good alternative to pen and paper. :) Love your site!

16 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

Also try just letting him write on it with different tools like an eraser or his finger or a paint sponge . Switching around the tools also keeps it interesting…

17 Adele- playful learners August 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I love this idea we used to do something like this but in a rubber glove and tie up the top.

18 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Haha – I would imagine that is quite fun!

19 artsy_momma August 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I have made the ocean in a bag with hair gel- I never thought about adding food coloring to it! Great tip for removing the logo too. I bet my baby would get into this too if I maybe taped it down to her tray so she couldn’t put it in her mouth :)

20 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Good idea to tape it to a tray – I often do that with younger children.

21 Trisha August 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

These look like they would be fun and interesting using them with the light tables.

22 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm


23 Cheri August 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Flat foam shapes are perfect “trinkets” to add and don’t tear the bags – fish to blue bags, et cetera. ALSO, rubbing alcohol will remove the white letting off the zip bags, too, if you don’t have nail polish remover, or find it too harsh.

24 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Oh, I didn’t know rubbing alcohol would work on that. Thanks for the ideas on things that don’t tear the bags – I will come back here and review when we are ready to try this with the kids this fall.

25 Linda Cunningham August 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Try putting them in the freezer for a while before the kids play with them-they will feel even colder!

26 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Great idea Linda! I will do that!

27 Trisha August 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I just made one and used the McCormick brand neon food color and it worked really well. I pressed plastic cookie cutters onto it and it made the shapes of the cookie cutters. Fun!

28 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Awesome!! I will have to try the cookie cutters too! It adds another dimension of play:)

29 Heather August 7, 2011 at 2:58 am

I never would have thought of hair gel ~ what a great idea! They came out beautifully! Your students are going to love those sensory bags :)

Have a blessed day!

30 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 7, 2011 at 7:20 am

Thank you Heather – you have a blessed day too!

31 Patricia August 7, 2011 at 7:52 am

I picked up the hair gel to make these this week. What size baggies did you use, and were they freezer bags for more durability?
thank you!

32 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 7, 2011 at 8:30 am

I used the ZipLock freeaer baggies (the cheap kind of baggies will break open too quickly) and sandwich size baggies are plenty big enough.

33 Janice August 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm

That looks like a lot of fun, will pass it along to my niece who’s working on a masters in education!

34 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Yes, please do Janice:)

35 Ana Paula August 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

My children will love! I can imagine their handprint on the colorful sensory bags! Thanks for great idea… I’m a Brazilian Kindergarten teacher! XOXO

36 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm

They are just as much fun to make as they are to play with! Thanks for stopping by all the way from Brazil!

37 Katie K August 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I tried this with my son but I was worried about him breaking open the bag and getting the hair gel in his mouth so I used Karo Syrup instead. It worked great!

38 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. August 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm

That’s great Katie – I love it when folks modify ideas to work for them! Well done!

39 Emma September 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hello, some could be frozen too, it could be an interersting sensory experience…

40 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Absolutely! Some use the frozen gel bags as an owie pad!

41 Jen November 7, 2011 at 12:42 am

This looks like an awesome idea! Do you think 22 months is too young? I’m just wondering if he will try to get into the bag. He may suprise me, though. He’s doing much better than I thought he would with his bean/rice bins. Glad to join your linky for sensory play!


42 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. November 7, 2011 at 1:41 am

Jen – We used clear packing tape to take ours closed which helps contain any messes. Like with anything, you just have to keep an eye on things with young children.

43 MissAllison November 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Our sensory specialist suggests putting these in the freezer also because the gel wont freeze and its a great cool down activity

44 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. November 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

And then they would make great icy owie bags :)

45 Branda Davis December 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

love the idea, I have used liquid watercolor paint and baby oil sealed in laminating film, my students love this, but this idea is so much easier, we put foam shapes in ours and when learning names we put the kids names in the bags and then they can maneuver the letters around to spell out their name, they love it

46 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 31, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Those are great ideas Branda! Love the idea of adding the letters of their names!

47 Chelsea January 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Just so you know- the target brand of baggies are totally clear- and cheaper! :) They won’t break, they’re nice and thick!

48 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Good tip Chelsea!!

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