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4 Benefits to Sensory Bins + Easy Tips for Creating Your Own

Do you use sensory bins in your classroom or at home? It has been shown that people, children and adults alike, learn best when using all of their senses. True, some people are auditory processors while others are visual learners, others still would consider themselves kinesthetic learners, regardless of preference, we all function best when we've had multi-sensory exposure.

Studies have been conducted which led the the following FOUR conclusions about sensory play and learning for primary aged children. 

ONE: Using sensory play, or in this case sensory bins, aids in cognitive development. Life is full of "problem solving situations," and it is our role as educators and parents to equip them to think deeply in order to find solutions. Sensory play allows children opportunities to predict, hypothesize, observe, react, and much more... all of which aid in cognitive development!

TWO: Sensory play helps to develop physical skills as well. Fine motors skills, which is the dexterity of small muscles and hand-eye coordination, begin to develop at an early age. Working along side fine motor skills are gross motor skills, which include larger movements a child learns beginning with crawling and walking, moving on to running, skipping, and jumping etc. In many cases, fine motor and gross motor skills require a little tune up, as little minds often race faster than their bodies can respond! Sifting, mixing, churning, scooping, and pouring can all assist in developing these physical skills, essential for success. 

THREE: Language development begins in children long before they are able to express their thoughts verbally. It is a continual process of acquiring new language and figuring out how to appropriately express those thoughts. Collaborative sensory play offers a venue for children to communicate their thoughts to one another in a constructive manner. The different senses that are stimulated while using a sensory bin can also develop descriptive language.

FOUR: Last and certainly not least, sensory play helps to develop social and emotional intelligence. As sensory play is developmentally appropriate, children are able to feel in control of their play and develop positive self efficacy. Learning to cooperate and share are essential to positive relationships, both of which can be cultivated during sensory play... Not to mention the avenue for creativity that is explored while using sensory bins. 

Are you convinced yet? If not, let me show you how quick and cheap they are to assemble for your classroom or home! Here is a one minute video demonstration so you can see the process in action, plus more details & a free editable template below!

I made them at home with my two year old... she LOVED being the helper, as I am sure you can image!!! 

First, I purchased clear plastic bins from Coscto.... 6 bins for $10.00 AND I got 25 pounds of rice for 8 bucks! You can't beat it... Can you tell I have a secret, ahem... not so secret, obsession with Costco?!? Confession: I LOVE bulk shopping... We have a membership to both BJ's AND Costco! Ha!

The rest is simple. All you need is the following:

* 10 cups of rice
* 3/4 cup vinegar
* 30 drops of food coloring of choice
* 1 gallon sized zip-lock bag
* 2 trays covered in parchment paper 
* 1 plastic bin (+ items of choice for bin)

Scoop the rice into the ziplock bag and then combine the vinegar and food coloring. Next, pour the mixture into the ziplock bag. 

Shake and/or stir the bag until the colored vinegar has covered all of the rice. 

Dump the rice onto the two trays covered in parchment paper and spread thin to dry. **It usually takes about 10-20 minutes to dry**

When you are finished, simply add objects of your choice into the bins of colored rice and VOILA... you have build your own sensory bins!

You may be thinking... sensory bins seem great, but where will I fit ONE MORE ACTIVITY into my school day?? I understand very well how precious time is at school. Sensory bins can be set up as stations for morning work. They can also be built into math or ELA centers throughout the school day. Not to mention, sensory bins can be a great educational indoor recess activity, especially for those poor weather days when the kids are cooped up inside and need to release some energy! 

To make things even more simple for you, I have created a few templates for you to give your kiddos to complete during their sensory play! Click here to download your free EDITABLE templates. 

If you are looking for more information on sensory play, check out this article by PBS.  Happy Teaching!