Sensory Bins for a Year

We are guest posting for our friend Blayne over at House of Burke! She’s super busy right now after just having her second baby boy.  What an exciting time for her and the Burke family!  We were honored to put together a post of sensory bins for her while she recovers.  If you don’t know the House of Burke blog, then you NEED to check out this blog.  Sensory and craft activities galore happen over there!  This round-up of sensory bin ideas will take you through the year with each season set for you.  Read more on House of Burke’s page.


Corn and Cookie Cutter Simple Sensory Bin

We are on a simple sensory bin kick around here.  We’re working our way through the alphabet (although, not necessarily in ALPHABETICAL order…) with simple sensory bin ideas that focus on two or three items that you’ve got around the house.  These sensory bin items have one letter in common.  So far, we’ve played with a B sensory bin and an S sensory bin.  (yup, definitely no organized order happening here…)  Today we explore Letter C with Corn and Cookie Cutters!

 Letter C Sensory Bin

Corn sensory bin with cookie cutters

For a Corn and Cookie Cutter Sensory Bin, you will need:

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A large shallow bin

We have a bin that is filled with field corn at all times.  Little Guy will ask to play with corn at least once a week.  We fill it with random things…

Today, it’s cookie cutters!

Field corn is a larger kernel that is used to feed livestock.  The texture of field corn in a sensory bin is great for tactile play.  It makes a great sensory bin base, and we’ve used it in lots of different sensory activities. 

The cookie cutters in the corn are great for sensory play.  Pushing the cookie cutters down into the corn was such a neat sensory experience.  We talked about shapes, colors while we buried the cutters and found them again.

letter learning with a simple sensory bin

We took the shapes out and replaced them with letters.  Little Guy is working on identifying letters. 

Baby Girl and Little Guy couldn’t keep their hands out of there!

Child playing in a simple sensory bin
Such a great sensory activity…just corn kernels in a bin.  Simple and perfect!

Sensory Handwriting Practice

The ABC cookie cutters were great for practicing letter formation.  The corn kernels gave great tactile feedback when tracing the letters.

Little Guy has been practicing his letter “S”, and this was fun for him.
letter tracing for pre-handwriting activity
Looking for more sensory bin ideas?  Be sure to follow our Sensory Bins Pinterest Board.

Sunflower Cupcake Liner Craft

Sunflowers are such a fun flower.  This time of year, you can see giant sunflowers standing tall all over the neighborhood.  We made a super cute sunflower with cupcake liners and sunflower seeds.
Not only is this craft easy, it’s a great way to practice a little fine motor skills, too!

Use a cupcake liner to create a fall craft for kids.

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To make a Sunflower Cupcake Liner Craft, you will need:

solid yellow cupcake liners

sunflower seeds (Rinse the salt from the seeds and dry on a towel)



We used two cupcake liners for a brighter color.  Snip little wedges from the edge of the cupcake liners.  This is a great scissor activity for school aged kids.  The material of cupcake liners is thinner than regular paper and requires more precision when snipping.  The cupcake liner is small and a great way to practice scissor accuracy and bilateral hand coordination.

Add glue to the center of the cupcake liner.  Baby Girl though we needed A LOT of glue.  And A LOT of sunflower seeds on our flower.  It turned out looking pretty cute with a bunch of seeds.

More glue.  She is a big fan of glue.


Fine Motor Fall Craft

Place the sunflower seeds into the glue.  Manipulating the small seeds is a great way to practice tip to tip grasp and dexterity.  If more fine motor skill is needed, encourage your child to pick up a handful of seeds.  “Squirrel away” the seeds in the palm of the hand and place the seeds into the glue one at a time.  Using the index finger and thumb to transfer the seed from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers and into the glue is in-hand manipulation.  This is a vital skill needed for tasks such as manipulating coins, tying shoes, and managing small objects.
We glued our sunflower onto bright orange paper and gave this to Baby Girl’s Great Grand Pappy.  Let us know if you make a sunflower craft like this.  We love to see your projects on our Facebook page.


Looking for more easy crafts?  Stop by and follow along on our Kids Crafts Pinterest board.

Crayon Play Dough Harold and the Purple Crayon Activity

This installment of the Preschool Book Club was one of our favorite activities, by far.  We made a batch of our play dough recipe, but added a twist.  We wanted to incorporate not only the purple color of Harold and the Purple Crayon, but the crayon, too!  This Crayon Play Dough uses real crayons in the play dough recipe and makes a silky smooth dough…perfect for creating, playing, manipulating, and more!

Recipe for DIY play dough using crayons

Crayon Play Dough Recipe

Harold and the Purple Crayon activity with purple play dough
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  The book Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson is such a FUN book.  It’s great for preschoolers, but grabs the attention of toddlers and school-aged kids, too.  When we read this book, all of my kids were frozen as they took in the bold pictures and the imagination of Harold.  We had a blast re-creating parts of the book with play dough lines.  Of course, we needed purple, CRAYON play dough to go along with the book!

We love making our own play dough.  To make crayon play dough, you’ll need just a few adjustments.

First, chop up 2 and a half crayons.  I’m not sure that these exact amounts matter.  There are so many different brands of crayons with different wax make-ups.  We used a few different types mixed together and the results were a silky smooth play dough.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cup salt, 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar)
Next, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan.  Add the chopped crayons.  Stir until the crayons are completely melted.  Slowly stir in 2 cups of water while stirring.  Certain types of crayons will either make a clumpy purply goopy looking liquid.  Other types will make a smooth liquid once the water is added.  Either way is fine.  Just keep stirring. 
Slowly, stir in the dry ingredients.  The dough will pull together in a ball over the heat.  Once the dough pulls together, dump it out onto a cutting board or counter.  Let the dough cool until you can tolerate kneading.  Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth.  (Note~ The waxy texture of this dough will create a spa-like experience while kneading.  This mama mixed up a few more batches of crayon dough and loved the mini-spa of kneading!)
Purple crayon play dough
Once cooled, you are ready to play.
Child playing with DIY play dough made from purple crayons
Crayon play dough is so smooth and silky to play with!  The color was very bold and bright.  Just like the purple crayon in the book!
We read Harold and the Purple Crayon a bunch of times before returning to the library.  Before it went back, we used our purple crayon play dough to make purple lines and “draw” them into shapes and pictures, just like Harold did in the book.
Create an activity for the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold’s house “drawn” with our purple play dough.

Little Guy made a boat, a Harold, and a snowman.
Use crayons to make your own play dough!
This was such a fun way to explore a great book.
Looking for more activities for the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon?  Stop by and see what the other Preschool Book Club bloggers have done:
Homegrown Friends: Giant Purple Crayon Mural
Buggy and Buddy: Yarn Art
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Lavender Crayon Soaps
Mama. Papa. Bubba. blog: Dry Erase Activity
Be sure to make your own play dough with crayons and use all of the broken crayon pieces to make a rainbow of crayon play dough colors!
hands-on activities to explore social emotional development through children's books.

Love exploring books with hands-on play?  

Grab our NEW book, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance, and Empathy, that explores friendship, acceptance, and empathy through popular (and amazing) children’s books!  It’s 50 hands-on activities that use math, fine motor skills, movement, art, crafts, and creativity to support social emotional development.

Water Bead Tea Party Pretend Play

We LOVE water beads!  They are such a fun way to play.  We’ve done so many fun activities with water beads: color matching, seasonal sensory bins, and even fine motor play with them.  One day we pulled out a pretty pink color for a little tea party pretend play.

Set up an invitation to play with the kids. Imagination, fine motor, pretend, and more with water beads!


Water Bead Tea Party

Note~ All children’s activities that we share on Sugar Aunts should be supervised by a responsible adult.  This activity especially should be monitored closely by an adult as children may get swept up in the moment of imaginative play.  If you are worried that your child may put water beads into their mouth, please do not attempt this activity. is not responsible for any injuries or accidents.  Sorry for the lameness, but it must be said…because you never know.  Just use caution. 
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Onto the fun.  We grabbed a packet of Pink Water Beads and let them sit overnight in water.  By the next morning, we had a bin full of beads ready for playing.  I set up our tin tea set.  We were ready to play! 

Pink water beads for sensory play.

How fun does this look??

We poured a few cups of “tea”.  This was a great fine motor activity for Baby Girl (age 2.5).  Pouring, scooping, and transferring the water beads from cup to cup is a great way to practice dexterity and control with movements.

We pretended to have a tea party with lots of refills needed.  This sensory play activity that was very relaxing.  Running your hands through water beads has such a calming affect. 

Would you like a cup of tea? 

More water bead ideas you may enjoy:

Glitter Glue Salt Dough Recipe

This salt dough recipe is a spin on the classic play dough made with salt. It’s got a unique coloring agent that adds a bit of “stick” to the dough, making is an awesome sensory material for challenging the tactile sensory system while encouraging fine motor skills. If you love creative and fun dough recipes, try this salt dough made with crayons.

We love making up a batch of salt dough.  It’s a great moldable dough for creating crafts like this salt dough keychain and even ornaments.  This recipe for glitter glue dough was a total accident.  It turned out to be completely cool to play with and one we’ll be making many times in the future. 

Make glittery dough using salt dough
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Ingredients needed for Glitter Salt Dough:

Salt Dough (mix up 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup water.)
glitter glue (ours was not the washable version)
That’s it!


Play dough recipe using salt dough and glue
When we made our glitter dough, we were crafting our Kissing Hand charm and were playing with the extra dough.  Baby Girl saw a bottle of glitter glue sitting nearby and decided to decorate her dough.  It was a beautiful, glittery, goopy decoration 😉
We decided to mix the whole glittery mess into the dough and glitter glue salt dough was born!

More quick ideas for sensory play that you will love:Sensory Paint Play 

Valentine’s Day Goop Painting 

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin 

Outdoor Dandelion Messy Water Play 

Water Bin Play Series 

Relaxing Lavender Water Bin

With the glue added into the dough, it was much more sticky.  Such a great sensory experience to manipulate that sticky dough!  We needed to add a bit more flour to take away the sticky factor.  How much you add depends on how much dough you’ve got and how much glitter glue you add in.   Looking for more ways to add sensory experiences to everyday play? Try all of these sensory activities.
Salt dough with added glitter glue makes a great fine motor activity for kids.

 Playing with this glittery dough was so much fun!  Let us know if you mix up a batch. 
Try these creative play dough recipes:

                   Crayon Play Dough

                                                     Body Wash Play Dough

                                          Proprioception Marshmallow Dough
                                                                      Frozen Play Dough

Lunchbox Ideas for Back to School

We’re joining the All Things Kids bloggers to share ideas for Back to School.  Stop on over to All Things Kids blog to see what the other bloggers have come up with for August and school activities!

Back to School means it’s time to start thinking about packing lunches.  The same old peanut butter and jelly gets old.  Old for the kids to open in the lunchroom every day and old for mama to make day after day!  We’ve started to think about healthy lunch choices for our little students so that they are eating a rainbow of foods in the cafeteria.  There are tons of links out there with super cute, themed lunches like this.  And that’s fine.  They are beyond adorable and will make the kids smile.  But sometimes, a mom wants to get the kids out the door and know that they have a healthy and nourishing meal for lunch.  We’ve got some easy options that you may not have thought of.

Send the kids back to school with a lunchbox full of healthy foods.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

Pack items from this list to replace the same old sandwich, apple, chips lunch that the kids get tired of day after day:

cucumber slices
berries (blue, red, black)
peanut butter (or butter substitute) and honey wraps
cheese cubes
sliced bananas tossed in a graham cracker/wheat germ combo
sliced raw veggies (peppers, carrots, celery, radishes)
sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter (Be creative if you like.  A pumpkin shaped sandwich works in May, too!)
pasta leftovers
slider sandwiches using mini rolls
nuts (only if approved by your child’s school allergy policies)
half a banana (keep the peel on)
lunch meat/cheese wraps
frozen peas
mini bagels
lettuce wrap
cheese sticks
air popped popcorn
dried fruit
soup in a thermos
Smoothies (freeze the thermos the night before, pour smoothie into the thermos in the morning)
ham and cheese skewered onto popsicle sticks
banana and cream cheese sandwich (or wrap)
mini pizzas made on English muffins (keep warm in a thermos)
grape tomatoes
dried cranberries
cubed melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew)
granola and yogurt
hard boiled egg
sliced kiwi
dry cereal
sliced avocado
cucumber slices and mustard on a whole wheat pita
leftover turkey or chicken (kept in a thermos) or cold with cheese slices
corn on the cob (heated and stored in a thermos)
shredded carrots
“ants on a log” (peanut butter and raisins on celery sticks)
homemade chicken nuggets with barbeque sauce or ranch to dip
cereal bars or homemade granola bars
sandwich made with waffles instead of bread
cottage cheese with fruit
greek yogurt with fruit

What are healthy lunch ideas for back to school? This link has a bunch of tips!

Tips and Tools for Healthy Lunches for Kids:

Sometimes, a child just needs a unique presentation to encourage healthy eating and trying new foods.  We wanted to check out different tools for packing school lunches.  If you’ve got all of those healthy foods, you have to keep them arranged and edible! 

Kids will love a lunch packed with these fun items.

How great are these ideas for school lunches (or stay at home lunches!):

Use fun skewers for fruits, veggies, and even meats and cheeses like She Knows Chef Mom.
 These plastic skewers

would be a great (and adorable) way to arrange a lunch box variety of veggies, fruits, or even meats and cheeses.  Note- These would be great for older kids.  Use caution when sending skewers (even the plastic variety) off to school with a young child.

Staying at home for lunch?  Throw together a version of this fun dinosaur lunch from Snackpicks. 
A fun plate like this food face plate set could be a great way to encourage picky eaters to try new foods. 

Sick of sandwiches?  Use a muffin with all the fixin’s like Keeley McGuire.

A couple of these sectioned plastic containers
make it easy to divide foods into compartments and snap a lid into place.  Throw it all in a lunch box and you’re set.

Pack veggies and dip like this lunch from Wendolonia.

 I love this Bento lunch box container.  It’s such an easy way to separate lunch items into sections and keep everything cool and ready for lunch.  The dip container is perfect for yogurt, hummus, or dressing.

 You might be interested in some super cute lunch box ideas we’ve been pinning on our
Food for Kids Pinterest board

 Ways to help the kids transition back to school this fall.
Do you have Back-To-School activities, crafts, or ideas to share?  Link them up here:

Beans and Bugs Simple Sensory Bin

Simple sensory bins are fun to throw together in a few minutes.  Sometimes, all it takes to occupy the kids in a sensory learning activity is just two items that you can find around the house or in the toy bin.  We started a Simple Sensory Bin series a few weeks ago, making sensory bins with just two items.  We’re working our way through the alphabet with simple sensory activities.  Of course we’re not going alphabetically…that would make too much sense 🙂  Instead, we’re just playing our way around the alphabet.  Today, we bring you B is for Beans and Bugs!

Create imagination play sensory fun with beans and bugs

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“B” themed sensory bin

We gathered up just two items for this easy sensory bin. 

 shallow tray

Easy sensory play doesn't require more than a few items found around the home.

How easy is this sensory bin?  It doesn’t get much easier to throw together.  Open a bag of dried beans.  Scatter bugs around.  Play.

Explore ants, spiders, and beatles with a sensory activity

We love our Melissa and Doug bugs.  The colors of these little guys are so vibrant and stand out great against the black of the beans.

B is for beans and bugs. Sensory bin for kids

We played with this bug sensory bin for such a long time.  And the pretend play…we had bugs digging in “dirt”, bugs making other buggy friends, and bugs building “dirt houses”.

These three buggy friends were talking and having a party.

Sensory play has never been so easy.  We put these black beans away for another day.  And maybe dinner. 😉
Simple sensory bin play idea with Beans and Bugs.

What simple sensory ideas will be next in our series?  Stay tuned for easy ideas coming this way soon!