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Two local moms/former teachers have teamed up to sell sensory play kits for kids.

The Blessed Mess Sensory Play — a venture of Miranda Walker of Gifford and Karly Dalmagro of Champaign — is selling bins and kits with various themes for creative play times.

Such as: “Luck of the Irish,” which comes with green, white and orange pasta, a gold scoop, green and gold coins, green necklaces, a black pot, a glittery gold or green hat, green shamrocks, a squishy pot of gold and gold nuggets.

Another one of the kits, called “Dino-Mite,” comes with toy dinosaurs, toy green gems, wooden tongs, spoon and scoop, a metal tin, river stones, split peas, moldable sand, leaves and dinosaur egg.

The Bless Mess Sensory Play defines sensory play as “an open-ended activity that engages the senses through natural and scientific exploration. It encourages creativity, curiosity and investigation.”

Walker is a former early childhood educator who taught pre-K through second grade.

Dalmagro taught fifth grade and earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on English as a second language.

The kits are sold with all the materials needed for play, with bins optional, plus additional activities, ideas and books to go with the kits.

To learn more, see the website at

On the way

Philadelphia-based Five Below, a chain catering to adolescents and teens, will open a new store at 2008 N. Prospect Ave., C, next to the Burlington store under construction.

The company has applied for a building permit from the city, and sign permits have already been approved.

The new store will be built in the rest of the former Gander Mountain store building that won’t be occupied by the Burlington store set to open in May. Five Below didn’t respond to an inquiry about when the Champaign store will open.

The company describes itself as a “leading high-growth value retailer offering trend-right, high-quality products loved by tweens, teens and beyond.”

Targeted customers are those in Generation Z, ages 8-14, and Millennial/Generation X parents ages 24-44.

Most items are priced from $1-$15.

The merchandise includes room decor, games, toys, candy, beauty, holiday, technology, books, arts and crafts and apparel items.

Five Below has more than 900 stores in 36 states — 52 in Illinois — with 1,600-plus more locations to come, according to the chain’s website.

Share news about your business: Deb Pressey can be reached at 217-393-8258 or

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