You can find Sensory Buckets or Sensory Bins all over Pinterest. I was particularly interested in the pirate themed ones, so I ordered some water beads, and I was on my way! We don't really have any pirates, but we do have an assortment of action figures (mainly Daniel Tiger) that worked just fine. The purpose is to drive imaginative play, which is particularly useful when you have other students who require your attention.
We made one "water" sensory bin. I just took the beads and put them in water so that they could expand. These beads are actually made for floral arrangements, so I suppose you could recycle them after you are done with your sensory bin. Anyhoo, the next day we were all set with the addition of an assortment of action figures.
After a few weeks of the water bin, I decided to change it out. For this one, I got a couple of bags of dry beans. I added to it some magnetic letters and numbers and gave Emma a dry erase board with the letters and numbers on it. She could then pick out letters with a set of big plastic tweezers I got out of her Playdoh sets and match them up with the letter board.
- The Good: These are very simple to make, there are endless possibilities, and they do provide hours of entertainment.
- The Bad: This is very messy. Maybe this is just my personality, but the beads, in particular, can be squished and let's not kid ourselves, they do NOT stay in the bucket, unless you put these in a kiddy pool outside, in which case, you would need a ton of beads!
- The Ugly: Seriously, I was vacuuming up beans 6 months later. If you are even a little bit of a neat freak, skip this exercise in insanity. I saved bags of these beads and beans to take out later and see if I warmed up to them, and let me tell you, there will never be a time when I will hate them less!
Here is an alternative, that I found kept my three year old just as busy:
You may remember when we set up the classroom and made a good old-fashioned blackboard. If you happen to have a chalkboard at home and a little one who likes to paint, set them loose with a paint brush and a bucket of water. They can "paint" to their heart's content, and clean your board at the same time. And if you don't happen to have a chalkboard, I have also seen this done with construction paper. ;-)
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