Making Cookie Sheet Play Spaces

By: Jill Grattan & MaryAnn Demchak

All children are capable of interacting with the environment around them. Play spaces allow the child to interact with his/her world through tactile exploration (i.e., hands on learning). Play spaces help to structure the environment in a way that the child can explore and exercise control. “Stay-put” play spaces are anchored in some way to allow exploration and play, with out losing materials. Play Spaces are toys that encourage: exploration, self-initiated actions, cause and effect play, fine motor skills, visual skills, reaching, grasping, manipulating, and releasing. Play Spaces use high interest, multi-sensory materials that can be easily adapted to the unique interests of each child. Play Spaces can be used individually (i.e., independent play) or can be a fun interactive experience with others. Play Spaces are easy, individualized, cost effective to make, and come in a variety of styles. Cookie sheets can be used to make excellent play spaces.

Different textures and colors can be added to a cookie sheet to make a texture board. Texture boards encourage:

  • Tactile exploration
  • Searching
  • Can be used as a “feely” board without any items attached

You can add objects to be found and explored:

  • Cause and effect
  • Fine motor skills
  • Reaching, grasping, manipulating, releasing
  • Self-initiated actions
  • Visual skills

Modified texture boards allow the various tex-tures to be covered to remove that potential distraction and place the child’s focus on the objects/items on the board.

Magnetic materials work well on a cookie sheet as well:

  • Can play with various magnetic materials, even those not intended as magnets
  • Can experiment with patterns
  • Letters, numbers, etc.

You could also use the cookie sheet as a surface for art activities in a confined area:

  • Crayons, markers, paint, etc.

The play space could be used as an area to play with clay/molding materials:

  • Slime
  • Moon sand
  • Playdoh