We put together our St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin last week, and as I expected it has already become a daily play choice for both of the girls. Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to explore the bin freely and incorporate a few specific learning activities along the way.
Why play with sensory bins?
If you would like to read a little more about sensory bins and why they are helpful in play and learning, The Outlaw Mom gives a good, brief description of sensory bins and their benefits.
What’s in Our Bin?
We didn’t have a lot of St. Patrick’s Day materials on hand, so I made a quick trip to the Dollar Tree. Almost everything in our bin was purchased there with the exception of the black bins. I grabbed them from our Halloween supplies. I wanted the black pots to serve as our bins, but since they are a bit small I decided to use two of them. I also added a couple of materials to the small green buckets. The combination of buckets ended up offering a lot of opportunities for sorting, transferring and pouring.
So what’s in it, already…
- Pinto beans as the base-So far beans have been one of my favorite materials to use as a base for sensory bins.
- Gold coins
- Green coins
- Foam shamrocks-different colors, some with glitter and some without
- Shamrock necklaces-We may leave these intact or end up cutting them into smaller strands of beads
- Small strips of gold ribbon
- Green flower table scatter
- Gold glass beads
- Green leprechaun hats
- Green ice cream scoop
Ways We Will Extend the Use of Our Sensory Bin
Starting this bin a while before St. Patrick’s Day will give us many opportunities to use it in different ways.
This first week I will simply leave the bin out for the kids to explore on their own. As you can see in the pictures below, Tinker couldn’t wait to get started. This self-directed learning and sensory exploration is the primary focus of sensory bins. The kids will feel the different textures, observe the objects, and begin to experiment with the materials in different ways. During this time I will also watch to see what they are naturally doing with the objects so I can decide which activities we might do next.
Once I see that the kids are done freely exploring the bin, I will start using some of the options below for extending its use. These are more adult-directed than free exploration, but they will allow us to focus on specific skills. The bin will also remain out and available for free exploration. We might just use it for various activities throughout the day.
If you read about our Christmas sensory bin, you will notice that these ideas for extending the learning are almost exactly the same. Using sensory bins we are able to practice important developmental skills over and over again. By adding a little novelty with new items, kids are engaged and excited more than they might be if I used the same materials over and over again.
- Talk…just talk about what the kids are doing as they explore the bin. This can be a great way to introduce and discuss new vocabulary. Describe what little ones are doing. Ask older children to describe what they are doing in their own words.
- Name objects in the bin for Tinker (2 years) and ask her to locate them. As she is able, ask her to pick up an object and name it.
- Name the colors of objects in the bin.
- Discuss and explore the texture of different objects in the bin.
- Play “I Spy” with Lovey (4 years) by describing an object using its physical description (color, shape, size, texture).
- Make up a story using some of the items in the sensory bin.
Transferring and Pouring:
- Practice fine motor skills by moving small pieces from one bin to the next. Toddlers can use their fingers in pincer grasp, or you could include tongs.
- Pour beans from one container to the next. This is a toddler favorite!
- Choose a kind of object. Find all of those items in the sensory bin. Count how many in all.
- Choose two different kinds of objects. Find all of those items in the sensory bin. Count how many of each. Then compare the two numbers (more, less, the same).
- Roll a number cube (with either dots, numbers, or number words). Find that many objects.
- Roll a number cube. Decide what number is one more than the number rolled. Then find that many objects.
- Roll a number cube. Decide what number is one less than the number rolled. Then find that many objects.
- Introduce and practice estimation with gold coins like this activity from Carrots Are Orange.
Sorting: Sort objects from the bin by:
- Select some of the objects and make a pattern.
- If your child is just beginning patterning, make a pattern for the child. Then ask him or her to copy it or extend the pattern.
More Resources for St. Patrick’s Day
I love to look at a variety of sensory bins before I put mine together. There are so many different materials and ideas that can be used. Here are some of my favorite sensory bins from around the web.
The simplicity of this Green and Gold Sensory Tub from No Time for Flashcards makes it very easy to put together. Kids will love focusing on pouring and transferring while digging for gold.
This whole bin is inviting, but I especially love the peg doll leprechauns that go along with the St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin from Pink and Green Mama.
JDaniel4’s Mom has a cute idea for digging up stone potatoes and treasures. There’s even a book to go along with it.
This post from H is for Homeschooling includes a great description of materials used and specific skills that can be practiced with each material.
If you love water beads or just want to try them out, this St. Patrick’s Day Water Bead Sensory Play from PlayDrMom would be a lot of fun for the kids.
And I rarely let a post go by that doesn’t include books. They are so important! If you are looking for some books to read as we get closer to St. Patrick’s Day, check out the Celtic Mythology & Irish Legends from What Do We Do All Day?
Are you making a St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin? What will be in it?
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