Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sensory Bins: With wheat, rice, marbles,coffee beans, & what not !

The idea and the logic behind a sensory bin is best explained by Sharla in her blog and book, but what I understand is it is a means to engage and calm a child's mind with his senses : tactile (touch), vestibular (movement and balance), proprioception (body awareness), auditory (sound), visual (sight), olfactory (smell). The sensory experience is usually given outside a box, such as when my kid walks back home from school he spends an hour gathering stones, chasing cats, drawing circles in the sand. Or when he takes bath, he spends an hour pouring water from one bucket to another, squeezing sponges, bathing his toys, blowing bubbles. Sensory bins however gives that experience in a bin.

A sensory bin (or a box, or a basket) comprises of a base (such as colored rice, beans, marbles, stones, sand, pebbles, rocks, grass, tinsel, beads, cotton balls etc) and additions (such as magnets, erasers, cars, diggers, feathers, toys, etc). They may be themed (color, Christmas, Independence Day, zoo, aquarium, garden, birthday, etc).


Putting together a bin is as exciting for me as it is for him to play with it ! (Although shopping for it in India is not! I have to go to ten different shops to buy supplies and am more often than not disappointed). Although many people may find interesting items lying around their houses, I didn't. Almost every item in every bin I made had to be bought, as we regularly remove junk (including old toys) from our home and it helped that we've shifted around many houses in the past few years.

The first such bin I made for him had wheat grains and kidney beans, with some of his dumpers and diggers and a few matching containers. The feel of wheat was so new to him that he chucked the dumpers aside and dug his hands into the heap, poured it from one container to another, dipped his feet into that tiny container and what not. He was so engrossed that I could watch a complete TV episode without any interruptions!

The second one was with colored beans. I put a kg of white beans into a resealable plastic bag and poured in one bottle of acrylic paint. Then shook it around a couple of times and spread the colored beans over a sheet of aluminium foil to dry. Then I tossed some magnets that looked good in it and voila! The bin was ready.



Some other bins I made:

·         Sea Creature Erasers in Light blue rice
·         Robusta Coffee Beans with Cups
·         Tricolored beans & rice combination for Independence day,
·         Purple Color theme with Purple Beans and stones
·         Red & Pink rice with Foam hands, feet & googly eyes,
·         Glow in dark Stars in Black Rice
·         Plastic Zoo Animals in Light Green rice


Some notes & learnings:

What paint? Acrylics, food color and tempera can be used, but acrylic paint is the best option. Food colors have limited color options (unless you suspect your child may out in his mouth), whereas poster paint tends to leave a powdery coat behind, some traces of which transfer to your hands even days after the paint has dried (although they are excellent for toddler painting purposes).

How much paint? The smaller the grain, more the paint required. I suck at figuring out the ratios and more often than not have some white left! The best grain I've yet tried is white beans. They need less paint (lesser surface area) and feel really good !

How to mix? While mixing paint with grains, make sure you use a good quality resealable bag, as I've encountered tears, and even the seal opening while I'm shaking it vigorously! (And YES I have WHITE chairs and had to run around wiping them clean before the paint set !) Freezer bags are the safest bet.

Until later! Stay in touch!

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