Today I have a Valentines sensory bin that is so easy to set up, and you can use the materials you have on hand, while helping kids develop fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, crossing midline, and so much more. Sometimes simple play ideas are the best. A simple bin of corn (or dried beans/peas/lentils/sand/flour/rocks…) and a few spoons, scoops, and bowls are all a kid needs for imaginative sensory play, creative language development, fine motor skill work, and learning through play! These are the kind of Valentine’s Day activities that can be added to OT plans. We made this Easy Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin with just a few items and had a day of fun.
Valentines Sensory Bin
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Pouring and scooping items into bowls with spoons works on eye-hand coordination, transferring, motor control to manage the spoons, and hand dominance as they scoop with the dominant hand and assist with the non-dominant hand. Encourage your child to use their dominant hand and to scoop from left to right as they transfer corn.
Here is information on the development of eye-hand coordination skills and how that development impacts function and performance of daily occupations.
Scooping and pouring materials encourages left to right progression in reading and writing. Using two hands together in a coordinated manner is bilateral hand coordination and essential for so many functional tasks (tying shoes, buttoning, cutting with scissors).
How to make a valentine’s Day sensory Bin:
To make this Valentines sensory bin, you’ll need just a few materials:
- Bin or container
- Sensory medium (dry corn, dry beans, rice, etc.
- Scoops (measuring spoons, kitchen spoons, tongs, etc.)
- Small cups or bowls for scooping and pouring
- Felt or paper hearts
You can also add Valentine’s Day sensory bin materials like the ones found in our new Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit. The Kit contains 25 pages of hands-on materials designed to develop and refine fine motor skills in kids, but some of those items are perfect for adding to sensory bins like this one. Simply cut (or have the child cut out) the images of hearts and other Valentine items. Then, you can scatter the sensory bin items into the sensory material. Hide them and have the child find them.
Click here to access the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit and add these resources to your therapy toolbox.
While they are building motor skills through scooping and sorting, they are experiencing tactile sensory input.
For kids struggling with tactile discrimination, this can be one way to challenge and experience these skills in a safe manner.
We have a big old bin of field corn always ready to go for sensory play fun. I threw a bunch of red measuring spoons and some red/white cups.
Add a few felt hearts for fun.
Scooping, pouring, and dumping the corn is such a fun way for preschoolers to play. Even the big kids got in on the fun. They love to pretend to serve up lunch in the little bowls, mix, and pour concoctions in their corn kitchen.
Looking for more EASY sensory bins?
We’ve started a series covering easy sensory bins from A-Z (and are working our way through that series very slowly!) Here are some more easy sensory bin ideas:
Bottles and Brushes Sensory Bin
Beans and Bugs Sensory Bin
Corn and Cookie Cutters Sensory Bin
Sticks and Stones Sensory Bin
Want to add more Valentine Fine Motor activities and movement tools to your skill-building?
The Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.
When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.