My oldest daughter Emily absolutely loved sensory bins as a toddler and would bee line for them at play groups. It came as no surprise years later when she made a fairy sensory tin (and travel size to boot) for her tiny wooden worry dolls.
For materials Emily gathered up rice, tiny rocks, course salt, sand, painted rocks, shells and a bag of fake grass left over from a diorama project last year. More ideas include scented rice, beans, marbles, pasta, popcorn, foam, beads, glitter and feathers etc.
Water gems sold at most craft stores make a great sensory activity as well. Even though my daughter is older supervision was still required as we had a quite a bit of sand trailing from one end of the room to the other.
If you don't mind messy fun shaving cream, jello or pudding can really stimulate imagination. I have one daughter who loves different textures and one who requires a little coaxing and gradual participation. Here is a link to a list of very good educational ideas on how to play with sensory bins written by Occupational Therapist Mama OT.
The turquoise metal tin was once a Body Shop gift set. A plastic bin, cookie tin, shoe box or crayon carrying case would work as well. When travelling the supplies can be stored on the deeper side and the lid can act as the play space. My ever so creative daughter had other plans--storage side quickly became a magical fairy forest complete with gold treasure.
This activity kept my daughter occupied for a few hours in a peaceful almost zen-like state. Afterwards she proudly displayed it on her top shelf reserved for special items. We will definitely plan for some seasonal and more themed tins. Who knew sensory bins were for all ages? It makes sense because I secretly love playing with them too!
If interested in making wooden dolls please see our post on Modern Worry Dolls. Playmobil and Polly Pockets are a perfect size as well.
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