Fall Into Sensory Bins: Indoor Nature ExplorationAndrea Thorpe
The fall months are a great time to take children on outdoor excursions. Such outings can provide children with many opportunities to use their senses to explore nature. Children can use their eyes to search for leaves of varying colors or use their hands to touch the smooth surface of an acorn or the jagged sections of a pinecone.
Young ones can hone their auditory skills as they carefully listen for the sounds of animals scurrying up and down trees or darting over and under the dry, crackling leaves. They can breathe in the sweet smells of the apple orchard and taste the warm cinnamon applesauce made from the juicy apples they’ve picked.
But what happens if chilly fall rains or strong winds prevent children from the fun of an outdoor exploration? Do we have to declare the day a total loss? Do our children have to miss out on engaging and stimulating experiences? Certainly not!
We can take advantage of these indoor moments and introduce our children to the joys of sensory bins.
These fun and easy to create bins can provide children with lots of opportunities for sensory exploration inside the home.
In fact, we can easily create fall themed sensory bins for our children that will showcase fall’s finest offerings and pique their interest!
But first, let’s learn a bit more about sensory bins.
What are sensory bins?
A sensory bin is a small plastic bin or tub filled with materials to stimulate a child’s senses. The bins often contain items that are colorful, scented, multi-textured, and sound inducing. Many sensory bins are created around a theme that unifies the contents and provides additional learning opportunities.
Why use sensory bins?
First and foremost, sensory bins are fun! Children love to dig through the bins to find a variety of interesting objects. In addition, sensory bins are a great way to help children develop essential skills such as sorting, counting, transferring, and matching.
- Sorting means taking items from the bin and separating them into groups according to size, shape, color, etc.
- Counting involves identifying how many items have been extracted from the bin.
- Transferring includes moving the bin’s objects from one container to another by way of scooping, pouring, dumping, funneling, or sifting.
- Matching means identifying objects that belong together, such as two interlocking puzzle pieces or two halves of a plastic egg.
- Hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills are also developed as children use tongs, magnets, or tweezers to remove objects from the bin.
How does one create a sensory bin?
- Choose a container with a lid that seals tightly. Lids prevent spills and help keep unwanted things out of the sensory bin. Lids also make it easy to stack sensory bins.
- Add filler to the container. Rice, sand, beans, and beads are all excellent fillers, but yellow popcorn kernels make a great fall filler.
- If you want to add scent, consider adding a single drop of essential oil to the filler. Stir to distribute the scent evenly. Consider an inviting fall scent like cinnamon or pumpkin.
- Hide objects in the bin. Head outside to pick up acorns and little pinecones or pick up fall themed items (miniature pumpkins, little scarecrows, colorful leaves,) at your local dollar store.
- Drop in a few spoons, scoops, cups, and funnels so children can play with and search through the contents of the bin.
Help make the this season a special one for your learners. Gather up some neat materials and let your child fall in love with a sensory bin