/ / Why the Sea is Salty: Salt Dough and Sensory Bins {Poppins Book Nook}

Why the Sea is Salty: Salt Dough and Sensory Bins {Poppins Book Nook}


Poppins Book Nook Folktales May 2014

May brought us Folktales with the Poppins Book Nook.  It’s been some time since I really studied the difference between folktales, tall tales, and fairy tales, so I did a bit of research.  I discovered that tall tales included some of our favorites like Paul Bunyan and John Henry, but folktales tend to have a more specific purpose to explain events in nature or things like that.

We chose a Korean folktale entitled Why the Sea is Salty.  (It is also available as an interactive Storytime App for the iPad for just $1.99.)

Why the Sea is Salty

The story involves a king who owns a magical grinding mill that can make wishes come true.  A thief discovers the secret and decides to steal the hand mill for himself to gain wealth and fame.  He ponders what the greatest wish would be and chooses to be the best and biggest supplier of salt.  However, he doesn’t know that you have to tell the mill to stop!  The mill continues to grind salt, which fills up his boat and sinks it, then continues to fill the sea with salt.

Although this tale is a humorous attempt to explain the salinity of the sea, it’s really a story about “be careful what you wish for.”  It’s also a moral lesson in “crime does not pay.”

Our Activities

I asked the girls what they would wish for if they had the chance to use the mill in the story.  Here are their answers:

Big Sis, 12: “A whole room filled with bookcases and all the books I want.”

Lis Sis, 6:  “A pony.”

Baby Girl, 4: “A purple sparkly glitter unicorn with wings that is real that I could ride and keep forever!”

Their answers made me laugh.  I guess you can tell a lot about their personalities from that.

To demonstrate the properties of salt mixed with water, we made some salt dough just for fun.

Salt Dough Recipe

4 cups all-purpose flour

Dash of vanilla

2 cups of salt

2 cups of cold water

Mix the flour and salt together, then slowly add the water.  I admit that I was not exact about the measurements and really just added and mixed until we got the right consistency.  We’ve made salt dough so many times that it’s second nature to me now.  I add the vanilla just to make it smell good.  You could also use cinnamon.  This dough air dries after a few hours so you don’t even need to bake it.  It can also be saved in the refrigerator if not all used in one day.

Sensory Play with Simple Salt Dough Recipe and Activities

This is a great multi-sensory activity, though it can get messy so be prepared for that.  We used wax paper over our work surface.  With the combination of hands-on mixing, changing textures, and the added sense of smell with vanilla, this works well as an autism sensory activity.  Of course, kids of all ages and abilities love this!  I just provided some ordinary household objects for them to use as molds or to make textures and their imaginations took care of the rest.

Another activity that would work well for this story is the ocean sensory bin we made for our ocean study previously.

DIY Ocean Sensory Bin

Additional Resources

There are so many fun choices to read in the Folktales and Fables genre.  Here are a few more that we found:

Brer Rabbit Down the Well

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Illustrated Stories from Aesop

The Rabbit’s Tale


Read more from the iHomeschool Network bloggers:


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  1. You can tell they are adorable and imaginative girls based on their answers!

    I love your ocean sensory bin by the way. I bet that was a lot of fun to play with.

    Thank you for helping to bring a spoonful of reading fun to the Poppins Book Nook this month!

    1. Thank you! We are really enjoying the monthly themes and our participation in the Poppins Book Nook. Thanks for hosting and coordinating it all.

Thank you for taking the time to comment!