When we aren’t rocking our favorite Shine Bins, I do still make personal sensory bins that change with the themes of each month! More often than not, I fill them with things we already have around the house or spend well under $10.
Things I think about when putting the bin together:
-Textures: soft, squishy, hard, bumpy, rough, crunchy
-Theme: Am I doing a color theme? A food theme? Seasonal theme? What goes with those?
-Filler: How messy do I want this to be? Ooblek messy? Or more tame water beads?
-Longevity: Do I want to put together a bin I can set up and let her play with over and over through out the month? Am I doing a once, maybe twice, and done bin that has something like ice as a filler?
To date, my most expensive bin has been our fall bin coming in at a whopping $8. It includes a mini bale of hay, a collection of mini pumpkins/gourds, and leaves and acorns we picked in our back yard.
Ooblek is an extremely cheap, easy, fun, option. Corn starch and water combine to make a Newtonian Fluid. I use natural food coloring to dye it, add in various plastic toys that match the theme, and call it a day.
Water beads are super versatile. If you’re as insane as I am, get a mixed pack, but pick out select colors for specific themed months- ie: yellow beads, blue beads, green beads…😂 It may be crazy but the affect is perfect! In the warmer months I will often keep them in the fridge or even a spell in the freezer for added cool sensory fun.
Corn kernels are again, very cost effective. They would work for a fall bin, a yellow bin, or just because. I often prefer corn kernels over rice as I feel like it’s easier to clean up.
Jello takes a little more planning as it does need to set. But it is so fun to stick aquatic fish & animal in for your tiny human to search and rescue.
Beans are good for your heart. 15 bean soup mix is my favorite to use as it has such a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. You could easily use all black beans, or lentils and kidney beans for a little more festive vibe. I typically suggest at least 2 bags for a decent amount of play.
When we are done with any of our non-waterbead bins, I use a large ziplock bag to store the filler. No use in buying more corn kernels or beans. This way I can reuse them at a later time and usually get 2-3 reuses out of them, if not more!
Benefits of sensory bins:
Life is all about learning through exploration. Little humans are experiencing most things for the first time still. Trying to figure out what it’s like to dump this liquid from one cup to the next, does rice move like corn kernels? Whether we verbalized it or not, they are learning all about matter and viscosity!
Motor skills. Scooping, dumping, manipulating, pinching, grabbing; all of these skills help develop the hand muscles as well as hand eye coordination.
Cool mom points. Few things bring me more joy than presenting my daughter with a new experience and the look on her face as she says, “woooow!” It cracks me up every time. Watching her go back and play with her bins throughout the day or the week also means I’ve hit one out of the park.