We do a lot of baking in our classroom. Around this time of year we use a great deal of fragrant spices in our baking such as ginger, cinnamon and allspice. When we bake, we simply measure out these spices from the jars purchased at the store.
A great sensory experience that we wanted the children to explore was to see these spices before they are ground up and placed in containers.
We purchased the whole spices from a spice store and put them out with mortars and pestles for grinding.
We had fennel seed, cloves, star anise, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger(for this we added a grater).
The children enjoyed using the mortar and pestle and seeing how the spices changed under their twisting. The room was incredibly fragrant as the children discussed among themselves how they felt about each smell.
The clerk at the spice store even found a large piece of natural cinnamon for me to show the children. In this state it really looks just like tree bark from the back yard.
After a few days of grinding and exploring spices, we had quite a bowl full of ground up material. Rather than waste it, we decided to make sachets. This was another learning opportunity as the children did not know what that term meant.
We cut up some fabric that we had on hand.
Put out fabric markers for the children to use to decorate the material.
Then they scooped out a couple of spoonfuls of the spice mixture and we helped them tie it up.
This way, although this was primarily a process oriented activity, the children had a piece of it to bring home and use to explain their experiences to their families.