Learning Through Play with 60+ Sensory Bins

Looking through the features for this week, we noticed a running theme.  It seems lots of folks are enjoying their days with their kiddos by doing fun and educational…

Sensory Bins!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that we love any sensory inspired play and sensory bins are one of our favorites!  We’ve done holiday themed bins, educational learning bins, color themed bins… There is no limit to the type or learning aspects you can develop through sensory bins.

So what is so great about Sensory Bins?

Sensory bins are a fantastic way for young children to explore their senses.  Kids, especially the younger set, learn through touch…picking up an object, manipulating it’s weight, exploring it’s color, texture, and size…and comparing the object to others.  Sensory bins allow a child to use all of their senses when exploring objects.  They can feel the different textures, see the contrasting colors, smell rice/corn/paper/whatever, hear the crunch of materials, even taste the objects.  And then there is the proprioceptive and kinesthetic senses that come into play when the child picks up and manipulates the items in relation to his body.
While all of this sensory stuff is completely awesome for little ones, don’t forget the learning that happens when a sensory bin is explored: colors, shapes, matching, comparing/contrasting, language development, sorting, counting, and fine motor skills, language development, and imagination skills.
The topics of sensory bins are limitless.  You can build a bin around a science theme, a specific letter of the alphabet, a holiday, or just throw some black beans in a bowl and add a few spoons and cotton balls…FUN!
Let’s see what super fun and imaginative sensory bins our featured linkers came up with this week:
Alphabet Learning Through Play by Little Bins for Little Hands
(ten completely fun and educational alphabet themed bins!)
Bird Seed Sensory Bin by Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
(we love playing in a bin of bird seed in this house!!)
Ocean Sensory Table by Stir The Wonder
(oh, our kids would love this one!)
(perfect edible sensory play for babies!)
Zoo Sensory Bins by Fantastic and Fun Learning
(Such fun with this collection of sensory bins!)
40+ Farm Sensory Bins by Living Montessori Now
(…we made the list…YYYEEAH! Seriously, there are great ideas in this post!)
Some of our favorite Sensory Bin posts:
 You may want to see more of our Sensory Bins here.

Driveway Sensory Drawing: Wet Chalk fun!

We played outside one cool morning and discovered something really fun…We had left a couple of pieces of chalk outside during an overnight rainstorm. 
The texture of wet chalk is so cool! It smears on the driveway so easily and is the neatest texture. 
There was only red and blue that were soaked through, but they combined to make a pretty nice rainbow!

We played with this for a while…the chalk drawing even started to dry on the driveway.
I LOVE this picture!
Baby Girl loved this messy play.  She got her hands right in there and covered them with the chalky mess.

Outdoor Sensory Play

What a great sensory experience!  Check out how Baby Girl is on her hands and knees…She’s putting weight through her upper body and down to the hands, and strengthening her shoulder girdle which is so important for fine motor dexterity.  All this while exploring the texture of the chalk, manipulating little pieces of chalk, and having fun with her sister!
We kept tracing over the rainbow lines until the chalk became so small…great for working on that tripod grasp!  Big Sister was really aware of the lines of the rainbow when she was tracing.  This is fun for a new hand writer who is learning to place letters on the lines of paper ((line awareness)).
Tracing the big arch of the rainbow allowed her to cross midline on a fun activity.   Why do kids need to cross midline?? One reason is so that hand writers efficiently allow the dominant hand to do the work during handwriting while moving left to right across the page in a smooth manner.
And of course, you MUST add raindrops to the rainbow 😉

Patriotic Craft — Fingerpainting Fireworks

This weekend I had 5 kids (ages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) and I had to think of something to keep them all busy. Finger painting is a fun craft for kids all ages, the babies love feeling the different texture of paint on their fingers and playing with the paintbrushes. I pulled out the paper and let them go to town with the washable finger paints!

 I helped my little guy (2) make hand prints in red and blue.

 The big kids enjoyed mixing colors while my 2 year old enjoyed painting his hand…and mixing colors in the paint jars…ughh. I think every color is now brown. 
 This project kept the kids busy for about 30 minutes, enough time for me to put away the dishes and wipe down the table 🙂

Once the paint was dry we gathered up some black construction paper, gold tinsel from a gift bag and scissors.  I folded the paper into a small square and helped the older kids cut out fireworks.

 We glued the fireworks onto the paper and made the tinsel stream down from the fireworks.  We talked a little about the 4th of July and I told my daughter it was the country’s birthday.  The best part was hearing
my daughter recite the Pledge of Allegiance  (so cute)!

100 Days of Play: Golf Tee Hammering Play

We have taken the challenge!  You all know how much we love to play with our kids.  And play matters!  Play is the child’s occupation…they learn so much through process of using their imagination, working their fine motor skills, building self-confidence, developing language…and MORE. All through their daily play! 

 Sunscholars and Life At The Zoo have created the opportunity to join them in the challenge to take time out for 30 minutes a day for 100 days and get involved and playing with our kids.  We have joined 100 bloggers from all  over the world in this challenge.  Swing on over to the blog hop where all of the activities are being compiled to see all of the activities already shared.

This was an easy (and fun) activity that we all enjoyed.  We have played with golf tees in the past, and had SO much fun (check it out!).  My Little Guy will often times ask if I can pull out the golf tees for him to hammer into an empty egg carton. 

We took this activity outside and hammered away!  This was big time fun for Little Guy and Big Sister.  They sat for a long time as we hammered golf tees all around the big tree in our back yard.

We added some yarn for a little extra fun and connected the golf tees.  We were planning to add Little Guy’s Spiderman guy to climb in the web, but there was a giant Thunderstorm brewing.  We gathered up our golf tees and hammers and headed indoors.
Since we hadn’t had enough with the golf tees and wanted to hammer a bit more…I pulled out an empty shoe box and stuck on some dot stickers.  I wrote the alphabet on them and we got busy, hammering away the ABC’s.

Baby Girl got in there, too.  She would pull the tees out and put them back into the holes.

We ended up adding the yarn again to connect the tees for more fine motor (and fun) play.

Water Bin Play Ideas for Kids play series

Here are fun water bin sensory play ideas for kids that can be used to address a variety of needs, with various themes. Kids will love these water bin play ideas! Adding sensory play into a water bin is an easy way to explore the senses, challenge tactile and sensory systems, and encourage development of skills such as fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, crossing midline, visual motor skills, coordination, confidence, and language. Kids love so many sensory activities when you simply add water. Scroll on to find some creative ways to encourage play and development of skills with simple water bins.

Water Play for Kids

The ideas here use any basic water table or can be set up with just a large tote bin, a small food casserole dish, storage bins, or any container that will hold water. The nice thing about these water play ideas is that you can create any theme or use any type of manipulative to the water to engage kids attention and interest.
Kids of all ages will love these water play ideas…even the big kids! When the weather is hot (Or not…bring these water bin ideas indoors for more fun and sensory play!) you can add any type of learning, cause and effect, and even STEM activities, using some water and some added materials.
This is a collaborative series of water play ideas along with Jaime who blogs over at Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.  Together we have created for you a series of Water Play ideas for kids!  Each day in the series, we created a themed water bin play activity.  You’ll can check out our water bin post and then swing over to see what Jaime’s take on the theme was!  Then, by the end of the series, you’ll have 10 versions of cool water bin play ideas to keep the kids chilled out from the water play and the FUN!
(and let’s face it…YOU will be having a little fun, too 😉 The nice thing is that now that the series is complete, you can check out all of the water play ideas at once. 
We’ve done a couple versions of water bin play in the past…

Water Bin Play…

Water play is so great for little kids to experience and enjoy.  The sensory aspect of getting their hands in the water and manipulating objects is great for brain development and sensory integration.  They are improving their fine motor skills, bilateral hand coordination, language development, problem solving, creative development, and even self-confidence!  The open-endedness of water play enables learning in endless varieties.  Consider adding math or letter concepts to a bin of water.  The child is enthralled by the sensory experience and learning happens!  Just think, all you have to do is add water and there is so much learning to experience!
We are so excited to start playing away the summer with our water bins.  We’re hoping you are inspired…we are inspired, too!
Stop by this page each Monday in July and see what we have been up to!
             Week 1: Relaxing Lavender Water Bin 
             Week 2: Island Luau Water Party Water Bin 
             Week 3: Swamp Water Bin 
             Week 4: Pool Noodles Water Bin 
             Week 5: Color Match Water Bin

And here are links to the fun water bins over at Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails:
             Week 1: Lavender/Purple Water Bin by FSPDT
             Week 2: Beach Luau Water Bin by FSPDT
             Week 3: Swamp Water Bin by FSPDT
             Week 4: Pool Noodle Water Bin by FSPDT
             Week 5: Color Match Water Bin by FSPDT

And a few more water bins you may enjoy:

Share It Saturday

Playful Learning

Once again you brought us loads of fun and creative links.  We chose a handful of posts to feature that just look like FUN to do with our kids.  We only have our kids as little ones for such a short time.  It so much fun to play with and explore new things.  We can’t wait to try out these activities and PLAY with our children while learning and having fun.
Craftiments made these gorgeous Paint Sun Prints.
Little Bins For Little Hands explored baking soda and colored vinegar.  How fun 🙂
Gift of Curiosity painted rocks (and their hands!) Two things that our kids LOVE to do!
Fantastic Fun and Learning made a block wrecking ball.  How COOL!

Stamp Roll Painting

We love any painting play in this house.  Big Sister was really into this project.
We stuck foam stickers onto an empty paper roll and she got busy painting them.
(I love her concentration here…)

After the foam stickers are painted, roll away!
(and have a bottle of bubbles near0by just incase the urge strikes to blow a few bubbles 🙂
Pretty Prints!
An easy and fun little painting craft!

Mexican Taco Empanadas

Taco Empanadas
This recipe is just too easy not to share with you…and the best part is our kids love it (and love to help make it)!  I made these one day last week for a play-date and the kids thought they were pretty neat.  You can improvise the filling with anything you think would be good…I have made them with chicken, ground turkey, and the traditional beef empanadas. 

Mexican pastry shells
1-1.5lb ground beef
One package Taco Mix
6oz salsa of your choice
Start out with these pastry shells, I get them in the local Mexican store in the refrigerator section.  I usually pick up several packages and keep some in the freezer. 
I browned some ground meat in the slow cooker, added a package of taco mix and half a jar of mild salsa.  Let this cook until the meat is browned and it is ready to fill the shells.
 Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray so the shells don’t stick.
Here comes the part the kids love helping with…

 Fill the shells with the meat mixture and fold over.  Use a fork to press the shells together.  Wisk an egg and lightly paint the shells with the egg.  My four year old daughter loves helping with this part.  Using the fork while pressing into the dough is great for her little fingers. 

Bake in oven at 375degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Delicious!