Sensory Play on a Mirror

Take your sensory activities to a new level with mirror play.

Earlier this week, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.  We enjoyed some sensory play on a mirror, and it was very, VERY cool.

sensory play on a mirror - happy hooligans

 If you’ve never used a mirror as a play surface, you need to do something about that! :)

rocks, shells, corn kernels, coffee beans and dried pasta on a mirrored surface

On this day, the hooligans were merely investigating a variety of natural items with tongs and tweezers, but placing the materials on top of a mirror added an entirely new perspective to a rather ordinary type of activity.

The Mirror:

The mirror that we used is one that normally hangs in the dress up area of our craft-room.  It”s slightly smaller than the average  full-length mirror, and it has a wooden frame around it.  I simply set the mirror on the second-hand coffee-table that we use as a craft and activity table.  It probably goes without saying, but just to be safe, I feel the need to say:  be sure to place your mirror on a table or flat surface that completely supports it.  You don’t want your child leaning or stepping on it and shattering the glass.

The Activity:

Present sensory materials in a wooden "lazy susan".

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I provided the hooligans with a tray full of natural items:

I had all of the items arranged in a wooden “Lazy Susan” and I provided an assortment of tools for the hooligans to examine them with: tweezers, tongs, scoops, wooden bowls and a magnifying glass.

scattering sensory materials over a mirror

The hooligans began by sprinkling and scattering handfuls of the goodies across the mirror just as I expected them to do.

But what happened next was not so ordinary.  They noticed something; they noticed that the sky was underneath them!

blue sky and clouds reflecting in the sensory table

And then they noticed the clouds, and that the reflection changed as the clouds moved across the sky.

And later when I moved the table underneath the tree, the littlest one said “ohhh, leaves!” when she looked down into the mirror.

I can’t describe how strange it was to look down only to find yourself looking up into the branches and leaves of our massive maple tree.  I’ve definitely never looked at the tree in quite the same way before.  It literally gave us a new perspective.

green leaves and branches reflected in the sensory table

And of course, they noticed themselves. They got a real charge out of seeing themselves and each other looking back at them from their play surface.  children discovering themselves in the mirrored sensory table

The frame around the mirror contained all of the objects on the mirror, and they seemed to know this, and they pushed and plowed all of the goodies around the table, knowing that they wouldn’t spill off the edges.small hands experience sensory play on a mirror

And the sound of the pasta, stones, buttons and kernels clattering around on the glass was wonderful.

I hope you’ll try this one.  It’s one of those things that you have to experience first-hand to really appreciate.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a full-length mirror.  Any picture frame type mirror will do.  Even a hand mirror would provide your child with an interesting surface to play on!  tweezers and an assortment of materials to be explored on a mirror

We’re definitely going to use our mirror as a play surface again.  I have a few activities in mind, and you can bet I’ll be sharing them with you just as soon as I can.

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    • happyhooligans says

      No, Alanna, it didn’t, but to be safe, you probably shouldn’t use a mirror that you care a great deal about just in case. Ours was a thrift shop find.

    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you, Karen! This was truly one of the most beautiful sensory activities we’ve ever done here. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.

  1. says

    Oh wow. Seriously! I’ve got all of those things, I’ve got a sectioned bowl, I’ve got a mirror but I have never thought of using a mirror for sensory play. I think I’ll be doing this over the weekend, thanks so much.

    Nipping over from the Outdoor Play Party.

    • happyhooligans says

      I would love to hear how it goes over at your house! Drop me a line, and let me know if you enjoy it as much as we did!

  2. Melodie Weeks says

    Very cool idea! I’m sure most of you realize this safety issue, but I thought I should share. Safety mirror glass would be best. Here in Oregon, USA our child care license department would have a fit if they saw a provider using a standard house mirror for a children’s activity. We are required to use children’s safety glass mirrors/non-shatter in our playrooms. Always something, sorry to be a downer. As soon as I can get a non shatter mirror I will hop on this idea, Thanks for sharing it!

  3. says

    I bet if this activity was done inside it wouldn’t have been quite as engaging. The reflections of the moving clouds and rustling leaves really sounded like it added so much to the experience!

  4. says

    I have really enjoyed looking around your blog tonight, new subscriber! I have three little ones of my own, and while I do not plan to start a full on daycare, I also take care of my neighbors children as well – so I love getting new & fun ideas!

    • happyhooligans says

      Oh, perfect, Lisa! We’ll keep you stocked up with plenty of ideas to keep your little ones (and your neighbour’s) having a great old time! So glad you’re following along with us now! Welcome!

  5. Molly says

    Love this site! I work full time, 12hrs shifts, and am off twice a week. I always felt too busy to think of how to do all of the fun things daycare gets to do with my toddler, but these ideas make it easy to do simple things that make our time together so special! Today we did the paint with marbles activity and it evolved into finger paint on different surfaces, paper and old sheets and grass, so fun! That morphed into an awesome bath party! Thanks for the ideas, I look forward to trying this one soon :-)

    • happyhooligans says

      Molly, your comment just made my night! That’s exactly why I blog about the things we do here! To pass all the stuff that works here with MY hooligans on to Moms like yourself, to try with YOUR hooligans! I’m so happy you’re enjoying our ideas! It sounds like you had a super time with the marbles-finger-painting-bath festivities! Don’t you love it when an activity takes on a life of its own?

  6. says

    What a neat idea! I’ve pinned it to my Sensory Experiences board on Pinterest. Thank you for sharing!

    I found your post through the After School Link-up.

  7. says

    I love this! The picture with the sky reflected in the mirror is beautiful! You were chosen as one of the five posts pinned to the Artsy Play Wednesday board. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you, Theresa! How exciting! This activity was as beautiful in real life as it was in the photos It was such an amazing play experience.

  8. says

    I love this idea, we’ve never played with mirrors as I’ve always assumed you might need a special type, but now I will keep an eye out in the charity shop. Loving the sky and leaves reflections, im off to pin this and will feature it in tomorrow’s Outdoor Play Party

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks so much, Hannah! This really has been a popular post! And it’s as pretty in real life as it is in the photos. When you’re looking for a mirror in the thrift shops, keep your eyes open for one that has a frame around it, like mine does. It makes it much easier for handling, and it contains all of the items that you’re playing with.

  9. says

    It sounds enchanting and I can just imagine the soft taps and clinks of the items on the mirror being so soothing. I’ll be featuring this on The Crafty Crow soon!

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes! Exactly, Cassie! The clacking and soft clattering really added to the whole sensory experience! I’m so happy to know that you’ll be sharing this post! I’m thrilled that a larger audience will get to see it, and hopefully be inspired to try it! Thank you! :)

  10. says

    Loved this so much! I have sent it to a teacher friend! I can’t wait to get into a classroom and try it out! That is the down side of Relief teaching! I might set it up for my friend’s children in the meantime! Glad I found you!

  11. jan says

    Great idea, I have a class of pmld pupils in early years that I teach for messy play, tgey are going to love this. Thanks xxx

  12. Clasina says

    I once did this in a slightly different way.with the children in my class. Every child hold a mirrortile in his hand and looked at it. They formed a row and the first one had no mirror but lead the way so that everyone was safe. They walk through the wood in an row while looking on down to the mirror that reflected the sky and the threecrowns. And they where very confused and thrilled by this experience. Very nice to do it yourself.

  13. Sharon says

    We have been using a tuff spot and child friendly mirror this term but have not taken it outside. Wow! I am going to try this when we are back.

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