Inspired by a friend who is making sensory bins for her toddler, I decided to give it a try. Frankly, assembling these looked like a lot of fun! My mom used to do a sensory bin for my little brother using rice and cars and his little figurines and I had been waiting until V got past the putting in her mouth stage to give them a try.** Unsure whether my daughter V would find them interesting play experiences, I decided to use items we already had in the house, with the exception of plastic bins that I bought for a dollar each at the dollar store.
To add to the learning experience, I also coupled each bin with story books we had around the house. I will rotate the titles out with new books from the library consistent with each theme.
These are the 5 themed bins that I came up with:
Fantasy/Magical Kingdom: I used pink sparkly felt for the bottom, purple paper Easter grass, feathers, lace, a foam star, and a lace paper heart. I cut a castle card in half (I had gotten these for a buck at a craft store a while ago) and glued each side to the side of a fruit container which I filled with rice, jeweled discs, sparkly buttons, and a magic fairy for a treasure hunt. My husband, M, later purchased some sparkly jewels on an outing with V that they added to the box, but the rest of the items were things we had around the house.
Books: The Wizard of Oz; A Fairy Went A-Marketing by Rose Fyleman
Dinosaur: I used kidney and cranberry beans for the base, red jeweled discs, a cork (a tree stump), plastic trees, black and yellow fuzzy balls (dinosaur eggs and rocks), green paper Easter grass, feathers, and brown wooden buttons. We added some of V’s dinosaur friends for play.
Books: Dinosaur Babies by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; A Dinosaur Named Sue by Fay Robinson
Jungle Animals: I used a mix of kidney beans and cranberry beans for the base, some more of the green Easter grass, shapes cut from animal print felt, assorted earth toned buttons, green fuzzy pompoms, jungle finger puppets and plastic jungle figurines. The glass scooper is an empty baby food jar that journeys from bin to bin based on what V wants to scoop.
Books: One Gorilla by Atsuko Morozumi; Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel
Sky and Space: I used a blue sparkly felt for the base. I also used felt to construct sun, star, and moon shapes. I cut different moon phases out of white foam pieces. I added glow in the dark stars, blue, black, and white buttons, blue pompoms, cotton balls, and plastic bubble wrap clouds. I also included black beans as part of the sensory mix. At some point, we hope to add some space figurines.
Books: Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger; Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch; I’ll Catch the Moon by Nina Crews
Snow (Yep, I know it’s REAL seasonal…! It turns out, it’s V’s favorite one, though!): For the base, I used a mix of garbanzo beans and rice. I added many white and clear buttons (which are hard to see in the photo), cotton balls, a sparkly snow flake, white cardboard letters spelling “Snow”, a stuffed snowman, and some feathers. She loves this one so much; I think because it reminds her of Christmastime.
Books: Geraldine’s Big Snow by Holly Keller; Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
The bins are really easy to put together; I did them over two evenings while watching some shows with my husband. In the mornings now, these bins are the first things that V seeks out for play.
Here are some great links to serve as a reference and to help you get your creativity flowing:
**Please use caution when making sensory bins for young children. This blog and the author assume no liability for any injuries associated with these activities. All items may pose choking hazards to young children.
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