Ever wonder why the sensory bin is always of interest in a preschool classroom? We know that children often enjoy playing with sand and water, but that can be a big commitment - especially indoors! Check out some really simple ideas - some messy, some not - that Ms. Kat shared. For simplicity, put the items in a plastic bin with a lid and some small toys. The toys can be anything from old plastic containers, to small cars and trucks or even favorite plastic dolls. If the sensory project is food-based, make sure to dispose of the material before it gets moldy or gross! Our students are used to the requirement that you wash hands before and after the sensory bin, so remind them of that rule and your materials will stay fresh and germ-free a little longer!
Sensory play is so important for the brain development of your child. No matter what you use for sensory play, remember that your child is learning about the world and having new experiences. If you would like more information about how important sensory play is, check out this website: https://www.parentingforbrain.com/sensory-activities-importance-sensory-play/
Exploration is how many children discover things about the world around them. Children are very curious and it is important to encourage that curiosity in a safe environment. That’s one reason why sensory play is so important. Here are some simple ideas for sensory play; and some that are a bit more complex that you could mix to make your sensory play a science experiment!
1. Water and Flour: flour is a great sensory play item in of itself. However, flour has a tendency to fly everywhere, which is really neat to see but hard to clean up. If you add water to the flour it is less likely to fly everywhere and it lets children have a different sensory experience.
2. Colored Rice: regular rice is a great sensory experience as well. However, if you want to add colors it helps children with color recognition; and they may even make different pictures out of it, or sort them. To make colored rice, put the rice in a bowl and color it with liquid water colors. Make sure that the rice soaks up all the water.
3. Flour and Colored Rice: combining flour and rice adds a different sensory experience. And, children will love searching for the rice in the flour.
4. Flax Seed: ground flax seed can be found in your grocery store. Sometimes, it is with the flour/baking section; other times it is in the organic section. If you combine flax seed with water, it will provide another sensory experience.
5. Home Made Sand: you will need 4 cups dried, used, coffee grounds, 2 cups cornmeal, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup salt. Mix that all together. If you want to keep it for a few days, you can put it in an air-tight container or a bag.
6. Cinnamon Oats: you will need 1 (42 oz.) container of uncooked oats, 1 cup salt, and 1/2 cup cinnamon. Mix all of that together.
7. Baking Soda and Vinegar: this is a classic science experiment that children love to explore with. You can put the baking soda in a container and then squirt the vinegar in. If you add dish soap to the vinegar, it will extend the reaction.
8. Cool Whip and Water: this is neat because sometimes the cool whip will stay on top of the water. You could add food coloring to make it more colorful.
9. Cool Whip Building: if you have blocks, you can let your child put cool whip in between the blocks while he/she builds to simulate building with bricks.
10. Play Dough: to make play dough you will need: 3 cups flour, 1 and 1/2 cups salt, 6 tsp cream of tartar, 6 TBS oil, 3 cups water (and color if you would like it). Mix these together. Cook over low heat until a ball forms. Let the dough cool, knead, and store in an air-tight bag.
11. Flubber: Flubber is messy at first but it is a great science experiment and great for exploration of liquids and solids. You will need glue, borax, warm water, food coloring, 2 bowls, a measuring cup, and a tablespoon. In the first bowl mix 2 cups of water and 1 cup of glue in a bowl; and add your food coloring. Next in a different bowl mix 2 cups of water and 4 TBS borax. Then slowly pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture. You may not need to use all of the borax mixture. As you mix, it will create a Flubber ball. Take the ball out of the water so that it does not soak up all of the glue/water (or it will become more like slime). You can store it in an air-tight container or bag.
Don't forget to check out the how to make Flubber video - https://www.k-prep.com/post/flubber-mud-puddles-and-more
Many of the ideas from this post came from the Ooey Gooey Lady. Here is her website: https://www.ooeygooey.com/