Tag Archives: sensory bin

Shape Sorting Sensory Activity

Buddy still loves sensory bins, especially the construction site sensory bin that I blogged about here. He pulls out the bin of black beans and construction vehicles at least twice a week. When I saw the shape sorting sensory bin on Stir The Wonder’s blog, I knew it would be an easy adaption of our construction bin. I already had the shape buttons from my quiet book (read more here) and I had the bin of beans, I just needed to put the two together.

To start, I took the trucks out of our sensory bin, and I dumped in a bag of shape buttons. Stir The Wonder used a muffin pan to sort the shapes. I decided to use an ice cube tray instead. I wanted to give Buddy lots of places to sort for all the different shapes. The extra spots on the ice cube tray also provided the opportunity to sort by shape, color, or size.

At first, Buddy was very interested about the shapes in his bin. He quickly started telling me all of the shapes and colors he saw. Buddy was happy to start pulling them out and putting them into different parts of the ice cube tray.

After awhile, Buddy decided he missed his CAT mini trucks (affiliate link). So he put them in the bin, and used them to help scoop and move the shapes into the ice cube tray. It took a lot of effort to try to scoop just the buttons and not the beans. 

Trucks make everything more fun!

I tried to encourage Buddy to find matches to put in the tray based on shape or color. Eventually, though, he just wanted to get all the shapes out of his “concrete”, so he could play trucks the way he normally does.

Overall, I was pleased to have a new way to practice shapes and colors. I think Buddy liked the variety with the sensory bin as well. The next time I try it, I may choose to use fine motor tools to grab the buttons instead of the trucks. But either way, it is a great way to practice both early math skills and fine motor skills.

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Mighty, Mighty Construction Site Sensory Bin

Buddy is really into construction vehicles right now, so I decided to do another construction sensory bin for this week’s Time To Read Tuesday. (Read about our other construction site sensory bin with shredded paper here.) I checked out the book Mighty, Mighty Construction Site (affiliate link) from our library to go with our sensory bin. Buddy loves Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (affiliate link), so we were both excited to read the sequel.

I started by reading the book with Buddy. He loved all of the trucks from the other book and all of the new ones too. I loved the themes of friendship and teamwork. It’s a great book and definitely worth checking out or buying.

Then, I pulled out our sensory bin, poured in black beans, and added four mini CAT construction vehicles. I bought mine at the dollar store, but you can also get them here. They are really nice for the price, and all of the parts move the same way they do on the actual construction vehicles. Buddy was with me when we bought them a few months ago, but he hasn’t seen them since then. These new toys made the sensory bin extra exciting. 

I knew we had a bulldozer and a dump truck, but I wasn’t sure what the other two vehicles are. Fortunately, both were new friends added to Mighty, Mighty Construction Site. After looking at the pictures, we decided our other trucks were a backhoe and a front-end loader.

In the book, the front-end loader helps fill up the dump truck. We spent a lot of time doing that as well. Then Buddy tried using the backhoe and the bulldozer to fill up the dump truck. He had the best time filling up the dump truck, driving it around the bin, and dumping it back out. Buddy also loved grabbing handfuls of beans and dropping them.

This was one of my most successful activities in a long time. Buddy played with the trucks for over an hour! When we had to stop for dinner, he was hysterical about me putting it away. We compromised by picking up the beans and leaving them in the bin with the trucks. (Normally I keep my sensory bin fillers in an extra large ziplock bag in a cabinet.) We’ve played with it twice in the last week. It’s a mess, but Buddy loves it so much, it’s worth it. I know we’ll continue to play with our Mighty, Mighty Construction Site sensory bin often.

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Gardening Sensory Bin

Buddy loves sensory bins, so it’s always fun when I come across a new sensory bin idea. I first saw the idea of making a gardening sensory bin on Frugal Mom Eh’s blog. Now that it’s spring, it is the perfect time to try it.

Buddy and I bought the gardening materials from the dollar store. I had him pick out some flowers he liked, and I bought some small plastic pots as well. We also bought a jumprope with carrot handles. I cut off the rope so we could use the carrots in the bin. We bought five bags of black beans at the grocery store, and the rest of the tools we already had at home.

Before we played in the gardening sensory bin, I cut down the stems of the plastic flowers with wire cutters so they would fit in the pots. I wrapped the ends with electrical tape to cover up the exposed wire. I also found some toy gardening tools that we’ve used with some of our other sensory bins.

The bin was set up with the flowers and some black beans in the pots and the carrots buried in the “dirt”. Buddy was very eager to play in the bin, and he immediately started taking out all of the flowers.  I hoped that picking out the flowers with Buddy would increase his interest in them, but it didn’t.

Buddy’s favorite part of the bin was the plastic pots. He loved scooping up the beans and putting them into the pots. Then he’d pour the beans out of the bin, and start over again. Buddy also loved banging the pots together and stacking them in one another.

I loved the black beans as a sensory bin filler. In fact, it is my favorite filler that we’ve tried. Buddy loves it as much as rice because it’s easy to rake, scoop, and pour. I prefer it to rice, though, because it’s much bigger and easier to pick up. Buddy also helped me pick up the spilled beans to put back in the bin (something he can’t do when we play with rice).

Overall, Buddy and I both were really happy with this sensory bin. It entertained him for a long time, and was faster to clean up than some of our other sensory activities. I’m sure we’ll do it again soon.

Construction Site Sensory Bin

I first saw the idea of doing a sensory bin with construction trucks and shredded paper on Busy Toddler’s blog. I immediately loved the idea because it’s easy to set up and includes Buddy’s love of vehicles! We haven’t done a sensory bin with shredded paper since our Open the Barn Door activity in August. Back then, Buddy wasn’t interested in the paper at all. I was curious to see how his reaction would be different now.

To set up the activity, I put some paper from our shredder in a large bin and put it on the floor of the kitchen. Then, I placed some construction trucks in the paper. These were purchased at the dollar section of Target years ago, and are used more as a decoration in Buddy’s room as a toy. As a result, Buddy was especially interested in playing with these “new toys”.

Buddy first started driving the trucks around in the paper. I showed him how to use the digger to push paper around, and he tried to do it too. Then, Buddy discovered how to fill and dump the paper in the back of the dump truck. This was a lot of fun for him.

Buddy was just as interested in driving the trucks around on the kitchen floor as he was in the paper. The cars made a noise on the floor, which Buddy thought was very entertaining.

The last time we did a shredded paper sensory bin, Buddy wasn’t very interested in the paper. That wasn’t the case this time! Buddy thought the paper was a lot of fun! Once he tired of playing with the trucks, Buddy decided to play with the paper. I was expecting things to get messy, and boy, was I right!

Buddy threw paper everywhere and made a huge mess! Then, in typical toddler style, he decided to run around the house and leave a trail of paper in his wake. Once Buddy was “all done”, I threw him in his crib and swept the floor. It didn’t take too long to pick up the mess once Buddy was contained. Even though it was a messy activity, it was worth it to see Buddy have so much fun.

I’d love to try some new sensory bins this spring. If you have any great ideas for sensory bins, please let me know!

Kinetic Sand Play

When we were in Florida for Christmas, we took Buddy to the beach. He had the best time playing in the sand. We would fill a bucket together, make a sand castle, and then knock it down. Buddy loved this activity!

Now that we’re back in the Great White North, I’ve been looking for ideas for fun indoor activities. I came across this recipe for DIY Kinetic Sand from Baby First Blog and immediately thought of our Florida beach fun. We had an open bag of play sand in our garage, so I had everything I needed on hand. Kinetic sand has the properties of wet sand, which means it is easy to mold. I was hoping that it would be less messy (it wasn’t) and more fun (it was!) than regular sand.

I doubled the recipe and used two cups of sand. The next time we do this, I will probably prepare at least another two cups for play. The recipe said to let dry for a couple hours, but I let mine out over night. It was a little dry, so I added a little more water before we started playing.

I set out the kinetic sand and a few tools in a pan for Buddy. He was so excited when he saw the it!

We recreated the same play activities that we did on the beach in Florida. I had a small pot from his water/sand table (affiliate link) that we filled with sand. Just like on the beach, we filled, dumped, and knocked down our towers over and over. Every time we made a new sand tower, Buddy was in awe!

And then he immediately wanted to knock it down!

Buddy did a great job of keeping most of the sand in the pan. He actually was much neater with this activity that he is when we do our rice sensory bin. The kinetic sand kept Buddy entertained for over a half hour! It was a bit messy, but Buddy had so much fun, it was worth it.

I’m hoping to do some more sensory bins this winter. If you have any good ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Open the Barn Door Animal Activity

Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase something using these links, I will receive a small commission. 

Even though my themed summer days are over, I still want to do some Time to Read Tuesday activities. Right now, Buddy is really into lift the flap books, so I chose Open the Barn Door to read. Buddy loves the flaps and the animals in this book! We read it together before I showed him the animal activity.

I put together a farm play area with some farm animal toys, the bucket from our Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks, and some “hay” made of shredded paper. Buddy loves his farm animal toys and putting things in different containers, so I knew he’d enjoy this activity. I wasn’t sure how he’d react to the shredded paper, but I thought it would be a fun sensory activity for him.

Buddy was excited when he first saw the farm scene, but he wasn’t sure about the shredded paper. He started by just pulling out all of the animals out of the paper. He didn’t want to touch the paper at all! As he pulled out the animals, we talked about the animal’s name and found it in the book.

Animal activity first

Wow! Look at all these animals!

Checking out the cow in the book.

Checking out the cow in the book.

After I pulled out the red bucket from the paper, Buddy immediately started filling it up with animals. His favorite thing to do with these animals is to put them in their tube and spill them out again, so I figured he’d be interested in doing that with a different container. He spent a lot of time filling up the bucket with the animals and pouring it on himself.

Animals in bucket

I was amazed that Buddy wasn’t interested in the paper at all. We did our activity in the kitchen because I expected a huge mess. In fact, if I hadn’t interfered at all, Buddy would have just played with the animals and ignored the paper. But I wanted Buddy to explore in the paper, so I took his animals and buried them in the “hay”. He initially was nervous about digging in the paper to get them, but eventually he started having fun with the paper too.

Having fun with shredded paper

Playing with paper

Paper everywhere

In the end, it did make a mess, but it was easy to sweep up. Buddy had a lot of fun with his animals and a new sensory material. If you have any other ideas for sensory bins, please share in the comments. I hope to do another one soon.

Rice Sensory Bin

Today, for Try Something New Thursday, I put together a rice sensory bin for Buddy. I’ve been wanting to try sensory bins for a long time, but I’ve been too busy with school work to have time to put one together.

I bought a extra large bag of rice and a big bin to put it in. Then I threw in some measuring cups, a slotted spoon, an empty container of baby food, a bowl, and a plastic cup (left over from our ice boat activity). I thought Buddy would like to scoop and play with the rice, and I knew he’d want to shake it up in the container with the lid. (He loves anything that makes noise.)

Buddy is checking out everything in the bin.

Buddy checking out everything in the bin.

Buddy was very interested in the rice bin, but he wanted to take the items out of the bin to examine them closer. He realized the rice made a noise when he shook the bowl, but unfortunately that meant rice went all over the floor. My sweet little boy tried to pick up the rice and put it back into the bowl (and he was somewhat successful), but he quickly realized it was too much to pick up. I knew before we started that it would make a big mess, but I underestimated how quickly the rice would be everywhere!

rice sensory bin 2

Buddy loved playing with this cup.

Buddy had lots of fun, even though the majority of his play was on the kitchen floor and not actually in the bin. Eventually, he decided to push the bin around and then explore the kitchen. (He never gets to play on the floor of the kitchen, and I think he was excited to crawl around in a new setting.)

rice sensory bin 3

Even though this activity was a big mess, it only took a few minutes to clean up. I definitely will try it again, but next time I’ll try some different materials in the rice.