One of the top passions and priorities in my life is education. I am a lifelong learner myself, proudly holding a Master’s degree in education. I have been a child educator and care giver in many capacities throughout my life. I am passionate about education at all ages and levels and especially at early childhood when so much about a person is formed in such a short period of time. I want to share with you how to create your own powerful tools for learning. Specifically sensory bins. I am crazy passionate about sensory bins because in my opinion, they are the single activity that provides opportunity for the most diverse learning experiences for kids. To learn more about the specific benefits of sensory bin learning and to see more of my own sensory bin ideas you can read a previous blog post of mine. Here is how to make and use Ocean themed sensory bins for preschool/ kindergarten learners and one for infants as well.
You can find so many items in your own home just by poking around. One of your goals is to find a mix of items that differ in texture, size, weight, color, etc. Check the bottom of the toy bins and borrow from sets of toys for the theme you need. . .
- cookie cutters, measuring cups, measuring spoons, tongs
- books, magazines, music, apps and videos
- beads, buttons, erasers, stickers,
- game pieces, plastic figures, stuffed animals, toys
- wooden toys and natural elements like rocks, shells,
- coordinating fabrics, ribbons, papers. . .
Whatever you cant find at home you will find at the dollar store, second hand store or craft store. (Carefully sanitize all items from second hand stores. You can spray items with a bleach and water solution or use other methods.)
You need fillers that are fun to manipulate and interesting to touch. You can make your own SUPER EASY colored rice here. You can use dirt from your yard, cheap aquarium rocks, dry beans, shaving cream. . . whatever fits your theme and your lifestyle.
Once you get your items put together you can use different things to create the play environment:
- train table
- water/sand table
- plastic storage container
- cardboard box
- floor mat
- cookie sheet
Ask questions like these to engage child in learning through play:
- show me big, bigger, biggest
- which object rhymes with “wish”?
- How many things can you find that are yellow?
- See this animal? What is it called? Shark or whale?
- Which shell has lines on it?
- Copy this pattern I made from erasers.
- Now you create a pattern for me to follow.
- Find a sea animal that starts with the “p” sound
- Can you move these puff balls into the ice cube trays without using your hands? What tools could you use to move the balls.
- How many of these spoonfuls does it take to fill the cup with rice?
- what letter does this start with?
- which item is the heaviest? Which of the fish weighs the most?
- can you put the shiny rock under the crab?
- which item feels scratchy?
- What does the shell feel like? What about the paper fish?
- How many octopus are there? What if I take 4 away? Add 2?
TIP: Another activity for this is to give children small/med sized plastic containers to create their own “dry” aquariums with the materials from the sensory bin. This leads to imaginary play and a new opportunity to learn in a different way!
To modify the ocean sensory bin experience for babies, use larger, safe (infant appropriate) toys that are in the same theme.
While babies explore objects:
- name the creatures and items
- point out connections like texture, color, etc.
- supplement with song and stories about oceans and ocean creatures
If you think that your little one will put smaller items like rice or racks in their mouth, you can always hold them so that their feet can explore the fillers!
Sensory give little ones ways to learn and make valuable connections to future learning. It provides rich experiences to their learning repertoire.
Have questions about sensory bins? Ask them in the comments!
Does your little one love Ocean theme and have a birthday coming up? You could make the sensory bins as an activity for the little ones for extraordinary entertainment at the party!! Here are some other supplies that I think are super cute for the Ocean themed Birthday.