Jello is a fun food to taste and feel inside your mouth, but who knew it could also be used for play!? I love doing this jello sensory play activity outside on the grass, but if you are stuck inside on a rainy day it’s also a great activity, just put out a tarp in the kitchen. I know it can be hard as an adult, but remind yourself that messes are okay so that you don’t limit the child’s exploration.

Materials Needed for Jello Sensory Play:

  • 2 boxes (8 packets) of Knox Gelatin, unflavored
  • 4 different food colors
  • Cold and Hot Water
  • Washable, plastic toys to put in the jello
  • 4 plastic containers of different shapes and sizes
  • Sensory bin, water table, or large plastic bin to keep the mess contained
  • Scoops or shovels to explore the jello molds


  • When making the jello molds follow the directions on the Knox box, however remember to double the ingredients because you are using two boxes of Knox Gelatin.
  • I suggest unflavored Knox Gelatin so that if children explore with their mouths and not just hands, they aren’t ingesting a ton of sugar.
  • On the side of the box when it says to use juice, use water instead.
  • Evenly pour the liquid jello into four plastic containers.
  • Next drop one or two drops of the food coloring into each container; stir it up.
  • Lastly, put a few toys in each container. I used sea shells for one and legos for another.
  • Put the containers in the fridge for at least three hours to solidify.
  • When you take the jello sensory play molds out of the fridge, let them sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This will allow them to melt/soften just enough to easily slide a butter knife around the edges.
  • Now you can flip it upside down in your sensory bin. Gently squeeze the sides of the plastic containers, tap the bottom, and it should pop right out as one piece. If it’s not coming out easily, let it soften a bit longer.

Dig Into The Jello Sensory Play!

kids squishing jelloPut scoops and shovels in the sensory bin with the jello molds. If your child is old enough to not put things in his mouth you can offer spoons and cups. Don’t start off by telling the children what to do such as, “Can you get the toys out of the jello?” See how the child decides to explore on their own. Let the child use as many senses as he’s willing: touch, smell, taste, sight, and he can even hear if he listens closely as it squishes between his fingers. If you are able to do this sensory play activity outside, encourage your child to feel it in between his toes too! Ask the kids open ended questions such as, “What happened when your fingers pushed into the jello?” For nonverbal children, provide vocabulary words about how it feels.

Bonus! If you are caring for older children, let them help make the jello molds. Ask them what toys they want to put inside. Treat it like a science experiment! If they want to see what happens if you put less water or more food coloring let them explore and find out. As always have them make a hypothesis and record results. You could ask them, “What will happen if you put paper in the jello, or even marbles?”

For more sensory play activities check out what else we have to offer, here.

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