Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Sensory bins

No matter the age of the child, they all engage with sensory bins. I love setting them up whether they are based on a theme we are doing at the time or focused on fine motor skills the children need to develop. I try to include a good variety of textures and colors and different types of manipulatives for interacting with the items in the bins. I have purchased over some time different types of tongs, tweezers, scoops, etc. from Dollar Tree and Amazon.  When I have had much younger children mixed with my normal toddler/preschool-aged children, I have set up a version with larger items so that it was safer. Because I choose to keep my in-home child care group small, I can monitor the children closely while they are participating with the sensory bins. These rocks, glass gems, scoops, and bowls were all purchased from Dollar Tree and the storage bins from Lowes.

Being that it is Wintertime, our newest sensory bin is all about snowflakes. The first step is to decide on the type of filler base that you want to use, and I chose rice. I put half of the rice into a gallon size baggy and added a few drops of blue food coloring and a drizzle of white vinegar, then shook the bag up until the color was distributed evenly. Then I poured the rice out onto paper towels to allow to dry, as well as get rid of the strong vinegar odor. I didn't have any liquid food coloring on hand, so I had to use my dyes that are made from vegetable colorants, so the results were not as vibrant as they normally are when I do this. Pictured is the beginnings of our St. Patrick's Day/Rainbow themed sensory bin which shows how vibrant you can get the filler to be using liquid food coloring and white vinegar. I purchased the gold coins and plastic shamrocks at Dollar Tree and the black plastic pots and glittery bouncy balls from Oriental Trading Company.

One thing I have learned through the years is to look at things and ask myself, "could this be used with the children?" because storing things just in case has always ended up surprising me with how either I was able to use them, or my daughter was with her children. Take, for example, a box of styrofoam peanuts that I received from something fragile that I ordered a few years ago. I kept them for over a year before it hit me that they could look like snow to the children and that the texture would be stimulating for them. So I used them to set up a Christmas sensory bin. I pulled out ribbons and a felt tree from our craft closet, I had metal boxes and a few jingle bells in the Christmas tote, I picked up plastic Christmas cookie cutters, glittery foam gingerbread men, trees and snowflake ornaments after Christmas one year from Dollar General at clearance prices, and last year got a great deal on wooden sled ornaments on Amazon.

Now back to our snowflake sensory bin I had a set of small felt snowflakes from Amazon as well as an embroidered type from Oriental Trading Company that I had purchased in the past in our Winter themed storage container, some clear glass gems I had picked up from the Dollar Tree, and some reusable ice cubes from Family Dollar, but I really wanted more of an impact and another texture to entice the children's senses, so I ordered a mixed size of plastic snowflakes from Amazon. During my research for Winter themed activities, I saw on Teaching 2 and 3-year-olds that she had added battery operated flickering tea light candles to her Winter sensory bin, and I just happened to have a box of them left from my daughter and son in laws vow renewal ceremony!

I think it turned out great, and the children have been spending lots of time interacting with it all. I added plastic bowls, scoops and shot cups for now, and plan on changing those out for plastic bottles and funnels next. 

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