Back when I had started having children there was no such thing as a "Sensory Bin". We would let kids play in sandboxes, in the tub, with the pots and pans from the cupboards. All of those things were normal, all part of having a toddler running through the house. What I didn't realize as a young mom 20+ years ago, was that all those things were actually sensory (educational) play. So I want to start off with saying, if you don't think you have the equipment for your child to play and learn through touch and texture, you're wrong. Which is ok in this case, you don't need to have perfect pinterest worthy items to be a good parent. Every little thing your child touches helps with their brain development, hand eye coordination, recognition and language. All you have to do is let them play.
If you're wanting to create designated play bins with a specific touch and theme, that's also ok! This post is about showcasing how simple (and cheap) sensory bin creation can be. You only need 3 things!
First off, my grandson still likes to taste almost anything he holds. In creating this bin I had to make sure the items were not a choking hazard to him, and that if he did try and eat some it had to be safe. I decided on rice krispie cereal for the bulk of the bin. I grabbed some finger puppets that are a decent size (will not get stuck in the little dudes throat) and an 8x10 bin with lid. Now, if you have the cereal and bin in your home already, you're halfway there. If not, these items and toys can be purchased at the dollar store or grocery store for less than $15. My house is over run with teenagers, so I don't have many "baby" toys around, although the collection is growing much to my husbands protests...
Anyways, it really is simple. I poured about an inch deep of krispies in the bin. Tossed in the finger puppets and prepared for cereal all over my living room floor. In reading about toddler use of sensory bins, I noticed a few parents explaining that you do have to teach your kids to use the bins properly. Which just means reinforcing that the cereal stays in the bin, otherwise you will end up with a bit of a mess. Initially there was a knee jerk reaction, "I thought the point of sensory playing was playing on their terms". I didn't really want to have to sit and determine the fun for my grandson. In this case though, it isn't so much as structuring the play, but helping him understand consequences and him learning that some things go in some spots. Neither of those are bad, we teach our children these things all the time without always consciously realizing it, as the goal is to create good humans.
BossBaby loves it! I sat on the floor and we talked about the toys colours, pretended to walk them through the cereal, bury them, make little paths. Then I sat back and watched him create his own joy. I did remind him cereal goes in the bin. But I also let him crush some on the floor, which I probably wouldn't have done if we had carpet. If you do have carpet I'd suggest laying down a tablecloth of shower curtain if you want an way way to contain the spillage, because it will happen.
Overall he sat and played for about 30 minutes. Which, considering a toddler attention span, I thought it was pretty good. He liked having a new toy to play with, and I can change out the toys inside so it can always be "new". Overall, this little task is a win.
One more thing I'd like to ad, you do not have to go out and buy brand new items for this bin. Anything can be a sensory toy. And once your little one is out of eating everything you can also switch out the cereal for dried beans, rice, beads, etc. Part of the fun in these bins is re learning how kids see the world. Talk about shapes and colours. Ask them how it feels to smash the cereal. Creating experiences isn't supposed to be stressful. Here's a couple other ideas for changing out the toys.
Have a great week!