Monday, December 31, 2012

sensory bins - winter theme

back before i ever considered homeschooling i started reading homeschooling blogs.  (i should have taken that as a predictor of things to come).  i stumbled across a few different blogs as i perused the internet (avoiding pinterest because i know how quickly i would become addicted to it) for craft/activity ideas to keep my boys busy.  one blog i have enjoyed is 1+1+1=1.  the author of the blog, carisa, offered fantastic ideas for sensory bins.  after reading through a number of her posts i felt confident in creating my own version.  the process was simple and inexpensive...and the different themes i've created over the past year have kept my boys entertained.  i do not use my sensory bins as a part of our homeschool curriculum, rather i pull ours out and change things up when the boys just need a little something different to keep them occupied.

sensory bins aren't necessarily associated with sensory processing disorder(although maybe i should have taken that as a predictor of things to come as well).  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 five senses in children's play 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.  here's an article that explains the concept a bit more.

since our friend juliana has been coming over to play with us she has seen and played with two different themed sensory bins and commented that she'd like to pass along the idea to the mom of another "friend" she "plays" with.  her comment made me think that posting some sensory bin ideas on my blog may be beneficial.  so ya go!  

this winter themed bin was the very first one i made back in january 2012 and i recreated it again last week.  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 harrison and graham's preschool where the annual christmas party always hosts a huge cottonball fight inside the gymnasium.  at ages 5.5 and 4, the "snowballs" are currently my boys 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), fuzzy pom poms (dollar store), and large clear glass gems (dollar store).

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, 3 for $1.  the tweezers in the background are learning resources brand purchased at 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.  this week 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.

other sensory bins themes i've created over the past year (and will post about as i recreate them in the year to come): valentine's bin, construction bin, easter bin , gardening bin, fourth of july bin , straws and scissors bin, outer space bin, build-a-monster bin.

i hope this post encourages you to put together a sensory bin for your home!  i'm very thankful i stumbled upon carisa's website and took the time to learn about this great play idea!

**updated to add i have submitted this post to the spd blogger network.


April said...

Rachel, you are such an amazing mom and wife! I love Graham in his costume. Such happy boys! You are such an inspiration to me! Thanks for sharing all the creative things you do with your boys. I LOVE your ideas and creativity.

rachel white said...

April, you are so kind and encouraging! When are you going to bring the kids over to play in the sensory bin?? ;-) We need a get-together!