Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sensory Bins for Kids! (in case I'm not the last parent on earth to be making these yet)

The latest thing I'm excited about is SENSORY BINS for the boys! I had one as a kid, but I didn't know they had a name till now. Basically you get a big plastic bin, and fill it with any sort of material, then add extra little toys, cups, scoops, or tools and just let the kids have at it. The possibilities are endless and I'm excited to try different kinds. I thought I would throw another blog together with some ideas I've found around the web, in case you happen to be new to the idea too. They can be super simple, or very detailed. Kids just like having something they can dig their hands into to explore the textures and scoop and pour, but you can take it a step further too and CREATE YOUR OWN LITTLE WORLD IN A BOX that kids can use their imaginations with, create stories, and use their senses to explore!

One popular idea I have seen used is using uncooked white rice, which is fine on its own, or it can be dyed for different themes by adding a couple drops of food coloring, stirring it around or shaking it up in a Tupperware container or baggy, then microwave for 5-10 seconds then spread out to finish drying. (none of these photos are mine)
you can also SCENT the rice with a few drops essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, etc. you can also even FREEZE the rice for outdoor summer play.
Another fun looking one is snow dough. 8 cups of all-purpose flour 1 cup of baby oil (or other oil) 1 small container of white/silver/blue glitter and wallah!
More ideas include: dried beans or peas, popcorn kernels, plain old dirt (Great for construction or garden themed bins) sand, aquarium gravel, colored glass stones, cotton balls, beads, confetti, tinsel, shredded paper, dry cereal, dry pasta, and also wet versions, like cooked spaghetti noodles dyed fun colors, mud, shaving cream, sand PLUS shaving cream, water and cornstarch mixed, or homemade goop AKA flubber, and last but not least, WATER BEADS, the latest craze for kids.
fill a bin with those and kids will have blast! they are cheap little beads that soak up water and grow in size, (also used to decoratively water flowers in vases.)They aren't sticky and wont leave residue on your hands, and they are nontoxic but should not be eaten. they can be found at many places like walmart, the dollar tree, or online. they also are fun to mix with shaving cream for yet another sensory experience. heres a great blog explaining them more.

Messier themed sensory bins can be played with in the bathtub or outside or on a drop cloth.
You can find cheap toys and things to add to them at dollar stores or just use things you have sitting around the house or things found in nature.
Some things to add to your bins could be: spoons, measuring cups, aquarium decorations, small bowls and cups, glitter, scoops, tongs, funnels (you can make your own funnel by cutting the top off a plastic water or pop bottle) , silicone cupcake liners, ice cube trays or egg cartons for them to practice sorting, foam letters, cheap bags of plastic toys like undersea creatures, dinosaurs etc, shells, real or fake leaves,fake flowers, little flower pots, shapes cut out of craft foam like fish, or lily pads or seaweed, sticks and bark( could use as bridges), rocks, small dump trucks and other vehicles, people figurines, pom poms, toilet paper tubes, cotton balls, googly eyes, feathers, fake or real fruit, holiday decorations, party favors, you get the idea.

The first bin I made was cornstarch and water, but I added too much water so I threw in some rice to help absorb it, and some food coloring, a couple plastic dinosaurs and spoons, put the kids and the bin in the bathtub, and to my surprise it kept them busy for a LONG time (and wasn't even too hard to clean up)! It just goes to show that even the simplest sensory bins can be a hit with kids.
they can be covered and stored somewhere like a garage and brought out another time when you need something special to occupy the kids.
Putting together different themed bins satisfies my itch to be creative, and gives the kids an opportunity to learn and have fun so it's a win-win. I thought I would post some examples so you can be inspired like I was :) (these are not mine.)

in this first picture, she cut out the bottom of can to use as a tunnel, and she found some plastic lids to use as a pond and cut one for a bridge.
here's an awesome dinosaur sensory bin
heres" how to make this awesome halloween one.

another cool Halloween one could be with black water beads, those sticky squishy toy eyes you can buy, some slime (recipe ideas here), and creepy crawlie bugs!

another cute fall one here

Growing a Jeweled Rose has TONS of amazing ideas, check her out.
here's a treasure hunt one she did using thistle seed and fake coins.

She even has "sensory play dates" where she fills kiddie pools up with different themed things like this farm one:
and I love this digging for bugs one:
this looks like a really cool one too!
water beads and glow sticks here
a super cute duck pond plus other great ideas here
adorable chick farm idea here
pond sensory bin
and some more inspiration:
here's an adorable fall "seek and find" bin idea with a printable so the kids can hunt for the hidden objects :) Aren't these just the neatest ideas ever? Hope you liked these too. There's SO MANY examples out there for every season, holiday and occasion, just google them! Laters everypony. ;)

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