I’m always looking for fun activities that I can do together with my little sensory seeker and with a price tag averaging less than $5.00, how can you go wrong with a simple bean box? Here’s the low-down on some sensational fun for every age…
What You’ll Need
- Plastic shoe box with lid
- 2-3 bags of dried beans
- Various scoops and cups
- (optional) Mat or plastic tablecloth
We made an adventure out of putting together our bean box (although this might not be fun for everyone!). Little Miss and I selected our plastic shoe box at the local discount store and she helped me pick which beans she wanted to put in the box. For extra fun, you can decorate the box and lid with stickers or t-shirt paint!
Open the bags of dried beans, pour them into the box, and get down to play!
- Tactile: Beans are smooth and move between your fingers without the sticky sensation of clay, play dough, or sand — a great compromise for sensory seekers who aren’t into messy play!
- Visual: Looking at beans as they are swirled around the box or poured between clear containers can be mesmerizing! For added fun, use markers or paints to color some of the beans or use different varieties of beans.
- Hearing: Pouring the beans between containers or into the bean box itself makes a soothing rain sound (imagine a rain stick).
- Fine Motor: Scooping and pouring beans, picking up one or two beans at a time and putting them into containers.. the fine motor opportunities are endless!
- Critical Thinking: Bean boxes also present great opportunities for critical thinking — try hiding small toys or treasures in the box or asking children to sort beans by size/color.
The following is a partial list of activities you can play with your new bean box.We’d also love to hear all your ideas in the comments!
Scoop & Pour: Use different sized measuring spoons and cups to scoop beans and pour them into different containers. This is a great activity for fine motor since it forces children to use a steady hand and helps with motor planning (how to get the full scoop to the cup).
Note: Using tools like scoops can also help sensory avoiders get into bean box fun without touching the beans!
Bean Sort: Set up several different cups and sort different colors/shapes of beans into the cups. This encourages critical thinking (how are beans different? the same?) and can be great for fine motor (developing pincer grasp to select one bean at a time).
Buried Treasure: Hide small toys or other treasures (beads, candies, etc) and let children dig for them. Using fingers to determine the difference between beans and “treasures” is a great tactile experience!
Bean Soup: Using a spoon or other utensil, stir the beans in the box. Add pretend “ingredients” (possibly sorted beans from the Bean Sort activity) and make your own imaginary soup. Ladle beans into bowls and serve!
Bean Train: Make up lines of beans on the floor (you can even use glue and construction paper to make more permanent art). Can you write your name in beans?
I hope this post helps you and your sensational child spend a few fun hours together — especially on one of those cold winter days we’re having here in the Midwestern U.S. right now. And if you and your kids come up with any other great bean box games, we’d love to hear ‘em!