I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… I think I might have just stepped over to the Pinterest side of me that I didn’t even know I had. I started doing something new with my son, not having any idea of how it would turn out. And let me tell you, it was a BIG HIT.
Let me introduce you to “Sensory Bins”.
My sister has often mentioned the importance of sensory play. She’s a preschool special education consultant, so any advice she has to offer in way of cognitive development is going to be pretty valuable. It kept coming to my mind because I’ve been dying to try to find things for Jack to do. It’s too hot to play outside (other than swim) and this toddler NEEDED something new. BAD.
I started looking up sensory tables, knowing how ridiculous I was being since 1) I cannot afford to buy a sensory table and B) where the heck would I even put it. After some research, I found a new love. Which is sensory bins. And OH. MY. GOSH.
They are SO easy. You can find EVERYTHING you need at the dollar store. The only expensive problem is that I have too many ideas and I wish I could put together one for every week of the year. Seriously. I love these things. And not only do I love them, but you know who else does? MY TWO-YEAR-OLD.
He asks to play with them Every. Single. Day. As soon as he’s done eating breakfast he’ll walk over to the hall closet and point. “Bin! Bin!” When he plays… honestly, it’s actually quiet. Like NAP TIME QUIET. I am so obsessed with these, I don’t even know where to begin…
I guess I’ll start with the bins themselves. What the heck is a sensory bin? Basically, all it is… is a shoe-box sized container filled with some kind of material that a kid can just stick their hands in and feel! Texture is important. You can also put little treasures and toys in. Scoops, funnels, anything that will let them play around and experiment. It’s basically a miniature sandbox. (Actually, you can totally use sand!)
Is it messy? Yes. But isn’t everything else that a toddler does? Yes! In my experience, it hasn’t been bad at all and YOU are the one who controls what kind of a mess it is. YOU are the one who decides what kind of a bin it will be. You don’t even have to do it inside if you don’t want to!
So with that, let me show you what I put together, so you can get an idea:
I found these colorful packing peanuts. So fun. Despite the fact that he was the one who picked out the Styrofoam peanuts, this is actually Jack’s least favorite bin. I’m not too worried though because I think he’ll like it more as he gets a little older. I’ve hidden wooden numbers in there, which will be fun when he starts to learn how to count.
3 bags of packing peanuts: $6
Plastic shovels: $1
ALL IN ALL: $9
I reeeeally love this one. BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING DINOSAUR THEMED!
Red kidney beans $1
White beans $1
Dinosaur play set $1
Plastic shovels (shared with the other box!)
ALL IN ALL: $4
This is my most recent one, I put it together for the fall time! Take note of the messiness in the background.
Corn Kernels: $2
Fabric leaves: $1
Set of Dump Trucks: $6
ALL IN ALL: $9
This one is the holy grail of sensory bins for my toddler. Honestly, he’s kind of obsessed… THE WATER SENSORY BIN. And okay, I know what you’re thinking. Yikes! But here is what I do. Knowing that I was going to try out a water bin, I got a towel from the dollar store (bonus! This one is a cool round shape!) I set it out in the kitchen and put a bath mat ON TOP of that. Double protection. Then I have Jack sit with the bin on the bath mat. We’ve had a bunch of spills but it was no big deal with this set-up. I will say though that the first time he did this, he got pretty soaked himself- so that’s something to think about!
As you can see, I started to switch it up by putting in a tiny droplet of dishwashing soap and giving him one of my slotted spoons. He adored it. He likes to throw in glass aquarium pebbles, stir them around with the spoon and scoop up bubbles. This has been a massive hit at our house. In fact: Tantrum Warning – may cause a lot of tears when putting away!
Aquarium rocks $1
Spoons and dishwashing soap: On hand
ALL IN ALL: TWO FREAKING DOLLARS
Today he also decided that he wanted to “wash” everything in my baking drawer. So prepare yourself for this kind of discovery/shenanigans.
I’ve been having way too much fun. I found an easy recipe to make fake snow. I think I’ll be putting together a winter bin in a few months!