Family, Projects

Sensory bins

Well, first off… I must report that this New Years Eve was one of my favourites on record. We got the kids tucked into bed, made a giant tray of delicious nachos with homemade pico de gallo on top, then settled in on the greatest couch in history, in front of a cozy fire, with my best friend in the whole world and watched back to back episodes of Jericho (our current date night tv series- thank you netflix). It was so peaceful, so cozy, so quiet… at one point I just kind of sat there soaking it all in, and I think that is when I finally fell in love with this house. I’m excited about a brand new year with my family and church, looking forward to seeing what God has planned for us in 2012.

Ok, now to the sensory bins… I’ve been ogling these on homeschool blogs for a long time now. This week I am prepping for the winter/spring season of homeschooling, and I knew I needed a few new and fresh activities for Juno because Justus’s school work load continues to slowly build. Finally decided to make a run for wal-mart and the dollar store and put a few fun bins together.

Here’s my haul of supplies…

The first order of business was to dye some rice. I tried to find unique fillers for the base of each bin, to give them a different and interesting feel for the Bug. In the dinosaur bin I chose a rice filler, and then dyed it all black to look like stones/gravel.
To dye the rice you fill a large ziplock bag with white rice and add lots of food colouring and a tsp of rubbing alcohol. Smoosh and shake the bag around until it’s all covered and then lay it out overnight on a cookie sheet to dry.
I chose to add some extra rice once mine was all coloured, just to give it a bit more variation, some are black, some grey, some still a bit white. I’ve also seen this done with green colouring to resemble grass.
The rice is still drying, so I will have to take a pic of the dino bin tomorrow.

Then I put together the horse/farm bin.
I used all natural hamster shavings for the base, cut a piece off a fake plant from the dollar store (I divided the one plant 3 ways for different bins), and just added the little horses and some plastic fencing and a tractor from toys the kids already had. Some of the horses are originally from the dollar store, you can get lots of different animal sets there. My kids love them!
(If anyone wants to do this kind of bin, let me know and you can have some hamster shavings. I bought the smallest bag I could find and it’s still HUGE.)

Next I started the aquarium bin…
I picked up a bag of aquarium stones and added a couple pieces of that fake plant. Then I just threw in some of the sea creatures we had, and added a new pack of rubbery frogs (Juno LOVES these silly frogs). I will probably add water to this bin most of the time when she is using it, but if I don’t want to use water I could also shred blue tissue paper for water and make construction paper lily pads for the frogs. Knowing Juno, her mermaid dolls will be joining in the fun also.

Lastly I made my favourite bin of all…
The princess sensory bin!
I saw many good ideas for sensory bins online, and the other bins use all the great suggestions from online sources. But this bin was fuelled totally by my daughter’s tastes. She likes all things sparkly and pretty, and the dollar store was an excellent source of girly things to add.
I found this mirror for the middle, can be a mirror, a lake, a skating rink, etc… fluffy fake snow in the Christmas clearance, giant gems, small gems, sparkly vase filler, and a pack of these tiny girls.
Then I was lucky enough to find a 6 pack of these sparkly purple trees in the clearance section of Superstore for 98 cents!

And in the future if I want to change this bin up, it can become a winter/Christmas scene, with the mirror as a skating rink, some cotton balls for snow balls/snowmen, and these extras to bring some Christmas cheer…

The best thing about these bins is that they can keep growing and changing. We can add new toys, combine bins, change themes… a small investment in some basic materials and the opportunities for imagination are huge. I’m already looking forward to adding to these and have a bunch of ideas for different themes using many of the same materials. I know they are nothing new or original, but I think they are wonderful and I am SO excited to pull them out one at a time over the next number of weeks to let Juno explore and play. Such a great winter (indoor) activity for little people!

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  • Reply Hannah January 3, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Your New Years sounds divine! We always make the mistake of doing something and always end up disappointed with it. This year we braved the crowds and went into the city in Melbourne to watch the fireworks. Gah!!!! Exhausting and not that great!

    • Reply Christa January 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I don’t know if it’s old age or what, but braving the weather and people doesnt appeal to me at all anymore. Though I guess the weather isn’t as much of a factor for you guys! :). Happy new year Pees fam!!!

  • Reply Jen January 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Love the sensory bins!! Great ideas! You did a great job on the princess bin too…if she loves sparkly things, she’s gonna love that one! 🙂
    I could never do sensory bins in this house…the boys would have rice, hamster shavings, stones and fluffy fake snow all over the house and all I’d have left is empty bins!!! LOL 🙂
    Good luck with this next season of homeschooling!

    • Reply Christa January 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Ha! There will totally be rice, shavings and fake snow all over my house! But that’s a small price to pay for a happily busy Juno! 🙂

  • Reply Jon January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    New Years was so fun! I wish we could do it all over again!

    Juno is going to lose her mind when she sees these! You did such a good job with them!

  • Reply Fil January 8, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Great job with the sensory bins Christa! I’ll have to ‘borrow’ some of your ideas, hopefully you won’t mind.

    • Reply Christa January 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      my ideas are all borrowed too! 🙂

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