How to make a Football Sensory Tray & “The Stone Thrower”

An Incredible Story & Football Sensory Tray!

After reading Jael Ealey Richardson’s “The Stone Thrower” we decided to create a Football Sensory Tray with rice, sprinkles & mini sprinkle letters! This turned out to be a very inviting play opportunity that I’m excited to walk you through. So, let’s get started…

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Summary of “The Stone Thrower”

“The Stone Thrower” by Jael Ealey Richardson and illustrated by Matt James is the feel good & incredible story of Chuck Ealey told by his daughter. Chuck grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio in the 1950’s when everything was segregated. He lived right next to the train tracks that divided the neighborhoods. One day he began throwing rocks, aiming to hit a letter on the coal cars that passed by. With much practice and determination he got better & better at it.

This unexpectedly led to him becoming a fantastic quarterback in high school & college winning EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. A total of 27 + 35 = 62 wins, which was unheard of!

Unfortunately as mentioned only in the authors note, this was at a time when the National Football League in America did not believe he could be a great quarterback because of the color of his skin. So, he moved to Canada & had an excellent quarterback career, leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the championship Grey Cup in his first year! He was also named MVP and the CFL’s Rookie of the Year!

We are celebrating Black History Month by following along with @hereweeread ‘s brilliant “29 Days of Black History” FREE printable wonderfully designed by @whimsicaldesigns_bycj. This book is one of many that we’ll be reading this month, check out our Black History Book List here & join us!

Football Sensory Tray?

You might be wondering… “What do you do with it?” or “How is this not just going to be a sensory mess?” There are many ways to answer these two common questions…

close up of mini sprinkle letters in football sensory tray

First, the most basic answer to “What you could do with a Football Sensory Tray?” is… have Fun. Sensory play at its finest is not about “doing” something specific. It is about exploring, feeling, listening, watching, problem solving, creating, etc… This is an open-ended activity. Just as each child has their own unique personality, experience, and preference in play, the outcome of this activity is just as special.

As for the second question, Yes, this could be a messy one! But, I hear you. I’ve been asked that question many times. Therefore, a detailed answer, along with strategies for successful messy sensory play, can be found by reading, “What about the Sensory Mess?”

What We Did with Football Sensory Tray…

close up of mini sprinkle letters in football sensory tray

We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. For this activity we colored some white rice with green food coloring which worked but not as dark as I’d like; so we added some green acrylic paint too. This definitely helped get the desired color of “grass” we were looking for.

close up of football sensory tray

We laid it out in the tray to dry, then made lines of white “yard lines” and added a container of sprinkles as the “crowd”. *NOTE: round sprinkles make a more convincing “crowd” but we used what we had on hand. Lastly we added @happi_crafts mini sprinkle letters to represent the two teams in the Super Bowl this year SF & KC because we love using them!

My daughter enjoyed open ended play with this football sensory tray. She initiated hiding the tiny sprinkle letters and finding them, listened to the calming sound the rice makes as it falls, and more.

close up of baby feet in football sensory tray

My newborn grandson got in on the action too since its never too early to start sensory play, lol. He was deep in thought as we dipped his feet into the rice and sprinkled it onto them. He loves the sound of rain so he loved it. Then he napped for quite some time. 🙂

I would suggest Football Sensory if you’re looking for a fun themed activity to connect with your child.

Materials We Used

  1. “The Stone Thrower” book (from the library or you can buy one here)
  2. Rice
  3. Food coloring or Paint (or both)
  4. A tray
  5. Sprinkles
  6. @happi_crafts mini sprinkle letters (optional)
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Make a Football Sensory Tray?

  1. Place the rice into a gallon sized ziplock bag.
  2. Squirt green food coloring and/or green acrylic paint into the bag.
  3. Seal and shake the bag to turn all of the rice green.
  4. Pour the green rice into the tray and allow time to dry.
  5. Once dry create lines with the white rice.
  6. Pour the sprinkles on the sidelines to look like the crowd.
  7. If you have @happi_craft mini sprinkle letters, choose the letters that represent the teams and add them on either side.
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

Wait, There’s More…

Sample of “Communicating & Connecting FREE Bonus Printable.

I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.

It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).

As a Thank You for subscribing; this is a special FREEBIE for our Email Subscribers Only. 🙂 Click here if you’ve already subscribed. Otherwise, Sign Up below to get the password & access to our entire FREE Printables Library today! 😉

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