St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin and Activities

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.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin

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.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin Materials

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.

Exploring: 

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.

Language Development:

  • 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!

St. Patrick's Day Toddler Play

Counting:

  • 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:

  • Color
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Texture

Patterning

  • 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.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin2

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?

There are also a  lot more St. Patrick’s Day ideas for kids on my Pinterest Boards.

Are you making a St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin? What will be in it?

This post has been shared at some of these fantastic link parties.


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Comments

  1. Fun sensory bin! I am featuring this in my St. Patrick’s Day roundup tomorrow for Share It Saturday- thanks for linking up!

  2. Super cute St. Patrick’s Day Sensory bin! Love the shiny green hat!

    Thanks for linking up and sharing your creativity with all of us at TGIF! I hope to see you back again today,
    Beth =-)

    • Thanks! Those green hats turned out great for sorting…and I think all of the dolls in the house tried them on, too :)

  3. Thanks for linking up to Tuesday Tots! I’m featuring your post this week on In Lieu of Preschool: http://www.inlieuofpreschool.com/more-must-see-sensory-bins/ Please feel free to stop by and grab a featured button! Off to pin your post. Thanks again for sharing! :) ~Genny

  4. Shaunna,

    I love you bin and all the ways you used it. My little one has played with sensory bins at school but not at home. I think that I will make one for Easter and try some of your activities. Your idea of using different containers is great!

    Sarah

    • Thanks so much! I am gathering things for our Easter bin, too. And many of the learning activities will go along great with any bin. I hope you guys enjoy your first sensory bin at home. :)

  5. This is a fantastic bin and the fact that you made it in the black pot is my FAVORITE part!! So clever – may actually have to rip this off and do it with my own girls this week. Love it! Thanks for linking up and sharing such a cute idea!!

    Warmly,
    Pink and Green Mama
    MaryLea

    • Shaunna says:

      Thanks! I loved your bin, too. Adding the black pots gave the girls a whole new element of pretend play and transferring opportunities, so I hope your girls like the idea.

  6. So much fun! I’ve really got to get myself organised and set up a sensory bin each week. My younger ones really enjoy them. Oh, for a couple more hours in the day!!

    • I agree…a couple more hours in the day would be lovely. But maybe try a sensory bin each month or every few weeks. I usually have one a month and try to renew interest in it by incorporating some of these extension activities or adding one or two new materials. That way we get extended use out of the bins.

  7. I made up a St. pats bin for my son but he wasn’t much interested in it. I’m hoping he’s not outgrowing sensory bins at 3! He usually loves sensory bins but this one was hardly played with at at and I thought it was the best yet! Oh well. I may add the pots of gold and coins was saving for the actual St.Patricks Day and see if that gets him into it.

    • Shaunna says:

      Maybe you could try introducing some of the learning activities in this post. Showing him a new way to play with the materials may renew his interest. Hope he enjoys the pots of gold and coins.

  8. Great sensory bin! Pinning now!

  9. Excellent post, Shaunna. Great ideas for extending the play and learning!!

    • Shaunna says:

      Thanks, Ann! I love the natural play opportunities of sensory bins, but I also think they can be a great tool for direct instruction in a playful way. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  10. Thanks for mentioning my book list, Shaunna!

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