Sensory bins are a huge deal in our house. I have versions for my baby and preschooler but today lets focus on the preschooler. My 4-year-old is a force of nature. Her nickname is Hurricane and she lives up to that name. However, even though (or perhaps because) she has enough energy for 3 children, she benefits so much from downtime. It helps calm her mind and refocus. It is like a mini recharge station for her mind and senses.
BENEFITS OF SENSORY BINS
- Provides an opportunity for your preschooler to focus their energy
- Helps build fine and gross motor skills, cognitive growth, and problem-solving skills.
- Encourages language development
- Is an outlet for creative thinking
- A great place to store tiny toys like Shopkins away from any babies in the house!!
WHY YOU MIGHT AVOID SENSORY BINS
- It is messy
- It requires preparation
- Your child may eat it
A few things to note here: 1) Yes, it can be messy but kids are messy and this isn’t as messy as you think. It takes less time to sweep up then it does to pick up a toy room! Also, you can take it outside. 2) It can take time but it doesn’t have to. See below on how we store ours to limit any work. 3) Yup, this can happen too! Choose kids safe products and let them go to town. This is a process of learning and growing. In time you can add things like water beads, foam, and gems but stick to edible products until you feel comfortable.
STORING AND ORGANIZING OUR SENSORY BINS
I used to pull out my bag of flour, pasta or beans every time we did our sensory play. Then I would toss whatever was left over and do it all over again next time. Not anymore!
I bought a cheap 10 pack of shoe storage bins. I keep 4 of them for sensory bins and when we have more than 4 on the go, I put the overflow in gallon-sized plastic bags. Then I dump what we are using into the bin at that time. It is SUCH a great system because they will play in the shoe bin which keeps the mess (almost) contained. Sometimes she wants to work on a bigger surface so I pull out a cookie sheet or send her outside.
Currently, we have alphabet pasta (dyed) with Shopkins, water beads, flour with more Shopkins, and beans/lentils with Playmobil (this is a “farm” bin right now).
That is it! It is so easy to set up, takes very little space and can be done for practically free!