Insects in Jello

Sensory toddler fun with plastic insects stuck in jello!

(E was 32 months old.)


You’ll need:

  • Jello.
  • Plastic insects.
  • Bowls.
  • Tongs (optional).
  • Spoon and fork (optional).


How to put insects in jello:

Prepare the jello according to the directions, then drop in the plastic insects, place in the fridge and wait a few hours until the jello is set. That’s all there is to it. If you’re worried that cheap plastic animals can’t withstand boiling water, you can let the jello cool down a bit before you insert the insects.




I made two bowls of jello, one orange, one lime, and tried to avoid using the “grosser” insects in the set 😉 {My husband still thought it was pretty gross 😉 }

Once the jello had set, I simply put the bowls on the table with a few empty bowls, a spoon, a fork and some tongs {E had randomly asked where our tongs were before bed the night before, so I thought she’d enjoy using them – and she sure did!}.

She started out using the tongs to move jello from one bowl to the other.


Set up and getting started with her tongs.

She also explored the jello with her hands, remarking how “cold” it was.


Holding a chunk of jello.
Feeling the jello in the bowl.

Then she discovered the first insect and was enthralled.


Holding a jello covered dragonfly.
Excited about the jello covered butterfly.

She carefully set the insects out in the pyrex baking dish


Plastic insects in a baking dish.

before she decided that they needed to be covered in jello again and dumped the mixed jello from the plastic bowls on top.


Dumping out the jello.

E picked up the insects with her tongs again, then put them back and squished the jello with her hands.


Picking up a caterpillar with tongs.
Squishing jello with her hands.

Back to the tongs and transferring chunks of jello to other bowls. This particular chunk got her imagination going, and she announced that she was now cooking meat.


Transferring a large chunk of jello with her tongs.

Of course you need the proper equipment to cook – so she got up and went to get the pan she uses for pretend cooking, then dumped the jello, insects and all, into the pan.


Dumping everything from the baking dish into the pan.

She stirred with the tongs


Stirring with her tongs.

and piled up all the insects on top of each other.


A pile of plastic insects.

Every time she picked out an insect, she smiled fondly at it. This one got her talking about The Little Hungry Caterpillar book that we sadly hadn’t read in a while {time to make up for lost time!}.


So happy to have found the caterpillar.

For the second caterpillar, she gave the fork a try.


Caterpillar on a fork.

Whenever E cooks, she always warns me to stay away because it’s hot {wherever does she get that? 😉 } but this was the first time she thought to incorporate an oven mitt in her play.


Using an oven mitt.

When she was pretty much done with this activity, she started sorting the insects back into a smaller bowl. First, she simply used her hands


Putting insects back into a bowl.

then decided to find out what it’s like to use the oven mitt to pick up the insects.

It took her a few tries to grab the butterfly but by the time she picked up the centipede, she’d gotten the hang of it.


Trying to pick up a butterfly with her oven mitt.
Centipede stuck to oven mitt.


What I learned:

  • This didn’t get really messy. Most of the jello stayed on the table, and the few spots on the floor wiped up easily. I’d actually expected it to be stickier than it was.
  • E didn’t care for the taste of the jello. She’d never had any before but she did give it a lick or two after playing with it for a while. She wasn’t impressed.
    I hadn’t meant it for eating, of course, and had picked the lime flavor because I didn’t think she’d like the taste.
    I’m sure it really wouldn’t have been a problem if she’d taken a few bites but I still preferred that she didn’t like it.


Additional suggestions:

  • Use plain gelatin if you want to reduce the temptation to eat it.
  • Use another theme for figures to put in the jello. Anything is more interesting when you have to remove it from jello to play with it.


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