Okay, so it might be a bit soon for me to have made this Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin, let alone be sharing my craziness with you, but does anyone else have kids demanding to know when the next holiday will be?
Well, this was my solution. A Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin for the toddlers and preschoolers to explore together!
When Ella was younger, I preferred to present just the “base” of the sensory bin first and slowly add in items, but now that she (and the other preschoolers) are older, I find they prefer when there are a few options for play already in the bin.
For the pebbly-looking base, I dyed 3 cups of pearl barley red by adding two teaspoons of rose water and several drops of red food colouring — an idea I first saw on Learning2Walk. (Only I just stirred it in a metal bowl and left it to dry for about an hour on a cookie sheet.)
You could use regular water, but I wanted the added gentle scent of rose water to go with the Valentine’s Day theme of the sensory bin. The chocolate extract we used to make our chocolate play dough was my second choice 😉
I love that this bin wasn’t overpowering, yet still provided a lot of flexibility and options for play:
- the molds and lid to the box were used for scooping
- the chopsticks were used to stir the barley, making two wonderful sounds – the whooshing of the barley and the tinkling as it hit the metal bowl
- the chopsticks were also used to separate out the rose petals from the bowl back into the box
- the barley was grabbed in handfuls, run through fingers, scooped, and picked up grain by grain between the thumbs and forefingers
- the textured balls were squeezed and used to decorate “cupcakes” made from filling the baking molds with barley (interestingly no one tried to bounce them)
- the floral box was used for scooping barley, for receiving scoops of barley, for helping sort the rose petals
- the hearts were counted, but they didn’t have a pleasant texture so they didn’t see much play
The kids really enjoyed and played with this bin for an hour, and likely would have played longer but the play was getting a bit too messy. I could probably present the same bin (or a similar bin with a few swapped out items) and they’d still be excited to play.
If you are going to make your own Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin, try to include a couple of different materials that can be played with in a few different ways. I like to add contrasting textures, and if possible, materials that have different temperatures when kept at the same temperature (you can always put a material in the freezer or in warm water before presenting the sensory bin).
I personally try to include something that will stimulate four of the five senses (generally not taste), but you can just do something that has stimulates the sense of touch. For this bin, that looked like:
- Touch: all of the items (smooth, rough, bumpy, squishy)
- Scent: rose water
- Sight: different colours, hues, seeing the word “Love”
- Sound: rustling of petals and tinkling of metal bowl