Friday, July 29, 2011

Sensory Bandwagon

I must admit, I spend way too much time browsing Montessori/Homeschool/Waldorf blogs for home and classroom ideas.  I recently stumbled across some bloggers who create something called "sensory bins".  In a nutshell, they're plastic tubs based on a chosen theme, and filled with interesting, textured materials.  The sensory bins create the possibility of hours of open-ended play, as well as, practice in all the Montessori goodies- spooning, pouring, scooping, sorting, classifying.  The blog I found most inspiring was
Counting Coconuts. Needless, to say, I've jumped on the bandwagon.

This is not an activity that I would incorporate into the classroom, unless it was for a summer camp type of environment, but it's great for home.  The theme I chose was "Beach" because we'll be hitting the shore in a few weeks.  The only thing I had to purchase for this bin was the base material, which is aquarium gravel (in place of sand- not brave enough for the real thing yet).  I found the gravel at Walmart for $5.  Everything else in the bin was either from our playroom or I had in storage for practical life activities:
  • shells (real and purchased)
  • aquarium plant
  • water block
  • spray bottles
  • small cups
  • blue and green gems
  • wooden scoop
  • scented wax slices
  • plastic fish
  • plastic whales
  • mermaid

Forever the Montessori guide, I set up a few "sensory bin groundrules" before we got started:
  1. All children who play with the bin will be active members of the clean-up crew.
  2. Small objects do not go in or near the mouth/nose/ears, etc.
  3. We respect each other while using the bin.  Sharing is a great way to show respect.
A blanket or towel should be placed under the bin for easy clean up.  I included tiny spray bottles (hanging over the side of the bin) to add a water element to the beach.  I told the girls if they wanted to spray outside of the bin, they must remember to bring the bin outside FIRST.

A sensory bin would not truly be "sensorial" without an olfactory element.  I included small green wax slices called "Coconut Lime" scented wax melts.  They add such a tropical scent to the bin.  I've had them in my bathroom closet for years.  I'm so happy they're finally being used!  Even the dogs got in on the fun...

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