Inside: Work on fine motor skills while hunting for gold coins with this St. Patricks’ Day sensory activity. There is also science involved as the children realize that the goop’s consistency changes as they dig their fingers into it!
Our 2 and 3 year olds love gold coins.
When we put them out in March for our St. Patrick’s Day activities, the children will collect them, store them in little treasure chests, hunt for them, and use them with cash registers in our dramatic play area.
I’m always looking for new ways to use them, and this year I wanted to focus on fine motor strengthening.
I recalled how we made our own 2-ingredient goop last year and it was a hit!
So, why not do the same thing, this time adding gold coins?
The goal is to push the fingers through the goop to find the coins, pulling them out onto a tray.
Such a fun St. Patrick’s Day sensory favorite!
Find the Gold Coins St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Activity
What we used:
- Gold coins (we also added gold lids from jars)
- 2-ingredient goop (instructions below)
- Containers to place the coins
- Shamrock cookie cutters (completely optional – it was a last minute decision)
Making the goop:
Steve Spanger calls this “Quicksand Goo” because of its unusual consistency.
Compare what it feels like to move your hand around slowly and then very quickly. You can’t move your hand around very fast. In fact, the faster you thrash around, the more like a solid the gooey stuff becomes. Sink your entire hand into the goo and try to grab the fluid and pull it up. That’s the sensation of sinking in quicksand! – Steve Spangler
You can follow Steve’s measurements, as he’s more precise than I am. I sort of eyeballed it.
I had 2 bins on either side of my Simplay3 sensory table, with a tray in between.
I poured a half box of the cornstarch in both bins and added water until it “felt right”. (See? This is why you might want to check out Steve’s page where he actually has measurements. 🤩)
Our children were already familiar with gold coins from our sensory bin.
I explained that they were now inside goop, and their job was to remove them from the goop and place them in a dish or on the tray.
At first it seemed easy.
After all, you just reached inside and pulled them out, right?
The children quickly realized that the goop changed consistency as it was handled.
It wasn’t as easy as just reaching in and pulling out coins.
Some of the coins were under a layer of the goop.
As one of our almost 3 year olds explained to his mimi as she picked him up that day:
“We had to reach in and get the coins, but it was hard! Our fingers had to dig to get the coins out and then everything was runny.”
Retrieving the Coins
Once a coin was free from the goop it could be put into a strainer, a container, or directly on the tray that separated both bins.
One by one, the coins were pulled out of the goop.
And during the process, the children marveled at how the goop kept changing as they touched it.
Many times during the coin retrieval they would stop and place their entire hand into the goop, because it felt so….interesting!
It took a lot of work getting all those coins out, and it was all done with the children’s fingers.
Talk about fine motor strengthening!
Washing the Coins
This is completely optional, but we added one last step to this St. Patrick’s Day sensory activity.
Once all the coins were pulled out of the goop, we placed them in the strainers, took them to sink, and rinsed them off.
I placed a fresh towel on the counter next to the sink and the children dumped the freshly rinsed coins on top of it to dry.
Such a fun way to work on fine motor skills with an activity that was completely hands-on!