Ok, you guys, I have to tell you that I really, really, really, really, REALLY (really) love sensory bins. They're just such a great tool to have because they encourage kids to explore their surroundings, experiment, and make connections between their play and their learning. And that's really important because not only does it create neural pathways in the brain, but it helps to promote language development, scientific reasoning, understanding of cause and effect, understanding of sensory attributes such as temperature and texture, problem solving skills, fine and gross motor skills, and social skills.
We usually have at least one sensory bin put together in our house; typically it is one that relates to the current season or an upcoming holiday. I try to rotate them, because after they've been out for a while, they tend to lose their interest. Changing up the themes and rotating the items helps to keep the bins interesting and keep everyone engaged. Even though Theo (4) and my niece (5) use them the most- they're here the most during the day- you might be surprised at how often Emma (7) and even Sophia (10) want to get in on the action.
Today I thought I'd share with you 3 winter sensory bins that have really been holding my kids' attention recently. These bins are really geared toward the preschool or older crowd (sensory play is really good for babies, too, but these bins have pieces in them that can present a choking hazard to little ones.), so please use your best judgement if you choose to put them together for your kids! Just a note in case you are interested- the bins I use are 28 quart storage bins that I bought for $5 apiece. Ok! Here we go!
Bin #1- Coloring Snow
Obviously, this one is going to be dependent on your weather, but I'll tell you what: sometimes when you can't go OUT to play in the snow, bringing it in is the next best thing. And it makes for a super easy sensory bin. We just scooped up a bunch of snow and threw it in one of our containers. I gave the kids some scoops and measuring cups, as well as some pipettes and some colored water. They spent a good 45 minutes coloring, scooping, and building things out of the snow.
Admittedly, the snow was not the prettiest color when they were done with it... but no big deal, because we just dumped it out when we were done. And the next time it snowed, my girls decided we needed to do this again so THEY could get in on it, too.
Bin # 2- Arctic Animals
My kids have REALLY enjoyed this one. Theo and I put it together last week, and the first time we had it out, he and my niece played in it for 2 & 1/2 hours. Seriously. At one point, I offered them lunch and they refused because they wanted to keep playing in the bin. The next day, the first thing my niece said to me was, "Can I play in the sensory bin?" So I think this one's a good one.
I started with a "snow" base made of salt and silver glitter. Salt really looks like powdery snow, especially when it's falling, and the silver glitter makes it sparkle.
Then I let Theo add various items to the bin, like cotton balls, some plastic snowflakes, and a couple of yarn pom poms that are the remainder of an indoor snowball game I made a couple of years ago. Finally, we added some arctic animals we got at the dollar store (I try to keep the cost of our bins low, so MANY of the items we put in them come from the dollar store), including a wolf, some penguins, a polar bear and a seal.
Bin # 3: Valentine's Day
This bin is all about texture and surprise finds. There are lots of little pieces in it, which means that they have to dig through the paper shreds to find them.Those red hearts in the corners are actually little containers, so they can open them up, put things in them, hide them, find them, etc., and the buckets allow for scooping, filling, dumping, etc. You'll notice I put a pair of "kid tweezers" in there for them to grab things with- great fine motor practice!
Since its kind of hard to see when it's all put together, here is what I included in this bin:
With the exception of the flowers, the large pompoms, and the letters, everything in the bin cae from the dollar store.
Ok, so there they are! Three great winter sensory bins for preschoolers!