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Potion Play: How to Set Up and Extend Sensory Play Experiences

We are thrilled to introduce our collaboration with The Magick Folk, a mom-founded brand that creates handmade, all-natural sensory kits. From fairy dust to bowls of bubbling liquid, potion play offers endless opportunities to combine make-believe and scientific observation. Sensory play can also serve as a meaningful, hands-on introduction to mindfulness. As children mix and create, we can help them connect to their senses by encouraging them to notice and describe what they see, smell, hear, and feel.

Getting Started: Potion Play Setup

If your child is new to potion play, use the following tips to set up an inviting workspace. Try to gather and prepare all of the ingredients, vessels, and utensils your child will need before inviting him or her to the space. Keep your child’s age and abilities in mind.  Young children can use small jars or cups to pour water, while older children might enjoy having a pitcher or water nearby. Once your child has had some potion play experience, he or she can assist with setup or create a workspace independently!  

★ Use transparent mixing bowls.

Transparent bowls and ball jars allow children to observe how different solids and liquids interact. As colors mix and bubbles appear, children will have a clear view of what’s happening beneath the potion’s surface. To encourage investigative thinking, offer your child bowls of different sizes and depths with each potion play experience.  


★ Have a dish towel nearby to support independent cleanup.

Creating potions is a form of water play. Preparing for the occasional spill is one way to support independence, minimize distraction, and make your expectations clear. Explain to your child, “Please keep the water inside the bowl by mixing and pouring slowly. I’m going to leave this towel here, just in case you need it.” If a single dish towel isn’t doing the trick, try covering your child’s entire workspace with an absorbent towel and place the bowls + potion ingredients on top!  

★ Divide ingredients in half.

When setting up for potion play, pour a small amount of each ingredient into an individual, small dish. Tuck the remainder of each ingredient away for later. Challenge your child to find new ways to work with the initial ingredients before offering a refill. You may be able to save the remaining ingredients for an entirely different potion play experience! Dividing ingredients in half is also a great strategy for playdates. You can create two separate workspaces at the same table and offer each child his or her own portion of every ingredient!


★ Offer tiny spoons to encourage scooping and sprinkling.

Though dumping is satisfying (and fun!), it poses a challenge for this type of sensory play. Children may feel like they’ve “finished” or “run out” of ingredients quickly. Tiny spoons like sugar spoons and measuring spoons encourage children to scoop or sprinkle. Slowing down the process of combining ingredients allows children to make scientific discoveries as they play. 

Strategies to Extend Potion Play

Here are a few of our favorite ways to keep the sensory fun going:


★ Encourage your child to add something new to his or her potion. 

Brainstorm household objects that you’re open to including in your family’s potion play experiences. Here are some ideas to get your started: ice cubes, paper scraps that can be torn or cut into small pieces, shavings from a pencil sharpener, bars of soap that are just about finished, and anything you can find in your recycling bin. Just be sure to strain the contents of your potion before pouring down the drain or into your garden! 


★ Offer additional bowls, cups, or utensils. 

Pouring liquids from one bowl or cup into another is a meaningful way for children to explore the concept of volume. Whisks, slotted spoons and spatulas allow children to interact with their potion in new and interesting ways.   

★ Gather some small toys to join in the fun!

Peg dolls, animal figures, boats and vehicles bring an element of make-believe to children’s potion play. Whether your child creates a foamy car wash or gives someone a rainbow-colored bath, toys are a welcome addition to sensory play experiences of all kinds.

Help us spread some magic and enter to win one of our bestselling Magick Folk sensory kits by sharing a photo of your family’s one-of-a-kind potion, tagging @roseandrex and using the hashtag #RRpotionplay.

Photography by @unknitandtiedtogether

About the Author
Lauren Vien taught in private Manhattan preschools for over a decade before joining the Rose & Rex team as Education Director. With a masters in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from NYU, Lauren is deeply passionate about positive language and developmental play. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and two young children, Henry and Violet. Family pastimes include building with couch cushions, preparing plant-based meals, and scooting to neighborhood playgrounds.
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