I put together a sensory bin every month or so. The process is simple and inexpensive…and the different themes I’ve created over the past year have kept my boys entertained. I tend to pull out the bin when the boys just need a little something different to keep them occupied (when I’m trying to cook dinner, for example).
Sensory bins aren’t necessarily associated with sensory processing disorder. I’d venture to say every preschool across America has some sort of sensory table – sand boxes and water tables, tubs full of rice or beans. I believe the concept is to involve the senses in children’s play time…to allow for hands-on exploration. My mom, a career preschool/kindergarten teacher, daycare director and, now, trainer for headstart, explained one example to me – that playing with sand, specifically, helps to develop kid’s fine motor skills and is a great precursor to handwriting. There may be direct connections for some of the other common sensory table contents as well but overall when a child plays with a sensory bin their senses are involved in seeing, hearing, feeling and sometimes even smelling the objects with which they are playing.
The occupational therapist who has been coming to our house for play/therapy sessions commented that she’d like to pass along the sensory bin idea to the mom of another patient. Her comment made me think that posting some sensory bin ideas on my blog, and posting them here as well, might be beneficial. so here you go!
This winter themed bin was the very first one I made back in January 2012 and I recreated it again last month. Our beautiful Colorado winter weather occasionally offers up days when it’s too cold to go outside. And harnessing little-boy-energy without going outdoors can be tricky!
As you take the lid off the Rubbermaid bin you find sandwich bags filled with cotton balls. Homemade snowballs perfect for an indoor snowball fight! If you squeeze all the air out of the bags those suckers really fly! I borrowed this idea from my boy’s preschool where the annual Christmas party always hosts a huge cotton ball fight inside the gymnasium. At ages 5.5 and 4, the “snowballs” are currently harrison’s and graham’s favorite part of the winter-themed sensory bin.
This is what you’ll find underneath all those cottonball packages.
A bed of white and blue sea glass (purchased at michael’s craft store), fuzzy pom poms (dollar store), and large clear glass gems (dollar store). There’s a great mix of textures – hard and soft, smooth and rough. Some are heavier and some are lighter. Some make loud noises and some make soft noises. The boys love investigating the different contents!
I always provide some type of bowl and some type of spoon for sorting (or just scooping and dumping). These particular bowls were from the dollar store. The tweezers in the background are learning resources brand, purchased online a long time ago and the measuring cup is from my kitchen.
On the other side of the bin I provided different size Styrofoam balls (dollar store) and toothpicks for building snowmen or snowflakes.
I always TRY to hold some items back and add them later to maintain interest and excitement in the sensory bin. A couple weeks ago I added two different size white pom poms that were left over from another craft project. They were purchased at michael’s.
Here’s graham, in his knight costume, having fun with the sensory bin.
It is easy to change out the contents based on the current season (winter) or on an upcoming holiday (valentine’s day). In fact, last weekend I switched out the “snowy” theme of this sensory bin and made it more “icy”. I’ll have to share pictures of the icier sensory bin with you too.
I hope this post encourages you to put together a sensory bin for your home! It’s certainly an easy way to provide a different activity for our kiddos (sensational or not) to enjoy!