I’m going to be honest with you all. I haven’t been the best homeschooling mom when it comes to preschoolers. We didn’t start homeschooling our oldest until he was in kindergarten, so as my others have grown – it’s been a struggle. It’s mostly been play and fun. But, this year with two in Kindergarten and a preschooler, I wanted to be more purposeful with our “play” times this year.
My poor kids. I’m not a very crafty person and I can’t stand paints. Messy…messy…MESSY!!!
I have always loved the idea of the sensory bins, but truthfully they freak me out. I tried cloud dough with our oldest once and it was quite frankly, a disaster. It was everywhere and I vowed right then and there that we would ne-ver do that again. And we didn’t. However, I am now convinced that was absolutely the wrong decision. So last week I decided we were going to try a Fall Sensory Bin and I was determined.
My husband gave me a strict budget, since our own budget is pretty tight, so I drove to the dollar store with my four-year old in tow and we searched the entire store for a bin and items to fill it up. Now, a couple of these items came from the dollar spot at Target, but they were still a dollar. So here’s what we came up with:
River Rocks (large, medium and small)
Pumpkins and gourds
Apple-Pumpkin Scented candle
Foam sticker leaves (Target)
Foam sticker pumpkins (Target)
I could hardly believe we found so many great items for our first bin on our excursion. In fact, I was so excited and could hardly wait until it was planned in our school day to “play.” But, we waited and I’m so glad we did! I kept telling my 3-year old all week that we were going to play on Friday and she could not contain her excitement.
So on Friday we dumped out all of our items and began piling them into the bin. We started with the rocks and layered them from large to small. Then I added the styrofoam pumpkins and gourds, followed by the felt leaves, fall scented candle, the foam sticker leaves and pumpkins and voila – DONE! Now, I didn’t just pour it all in without a rhyme or reason. I really tried to mix them up and put things down under some of the rocks so she had “dig” for them.
Then, I got a muffin tin from the kitchen and sorted one of each item into the cups. We are still working on our colors, so I thought this would be a great way to reinforce them. So, I would ask her if she could “find any other big leaves” in the bin. And off she’d go “searching and digging” for whatever I said.
She would look and look for the items I mentioned. She had great fun digging with her scoop and matching them in the muffin tin.
She absolutely loved finding the items and scooping them out. She literally played with the bin and its contents for nearly 45 minutes, which is a miracle for a very busy and active 3 year old.
While she was digging and scooping, I also asked her to smell the candle. Although she couldn’t tell me what it smelled like – other than “yummy, mommy” – she had fun sniffing. I did tell her what it smelled like so she would know, but I’m not sure it registered with her being only 3 years old.
All in all, I would say our $10 sensory bin was a success! We will bring it out a few more times this season for more fun. I cannot wait to go back and see what I can find for our next sensory bin! Of course, there are other items you can add to the bin, which you might have around your house or yard – pinecones, acorns, sticks. Be creative and have the kids help you fill it!
Do you use sensory bins in your homeschool? Where do you find your contents?