By Dr Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi
Childhood is a stage of exploration and children are constantly trying to learn about new things that can help them in making sense of the world around. The responsibility of acquainting children with new things falls on us as parents. The challenge that surrounds this domain is how we can support the process of learning while keeping our children entertained. The answer to this is simple as well as easy to execute – Sensory Bins!
If you need something that can catch the fancy of your children at the very first glance, help them grow and develop as well as keep them occupied for a while, then sensory bins are just what you need. They are super easy to make and are a simple way to engage children in independent play for longer than you would expect.
Sensory bins are basically a collection of objects and items varying in colours, textures, patterns and consistency. They can be made with objects that are easily available and can work really well with children of nearly all ages.
Here are some ideas for different sensory bins that you can quickly put together and open up a world of wonder for your children!
There’s nothing more diverse than nature. The sheer magnificence of the variety of objects that can be found in nature is too hard to determine, so there’s nothing better than assembling a nature bin. Every nature bin will be distinct because of the essential differences in the availability of natural substances in different regions but some common items that go into a nature bin include sticks, stones, leaves, flowers, etc. You can let children pick these items up themselves or you can help them put everything together. The nature bin helps children in identifying the varieties of plants and flowers along with telling them apart. They can also sort objects by colour, shapes, weight, patterns, etc.
When we think of water, we can often feel a sense of calm. This is exactly the effect that water as an element has on us. It slows us down and helps us rejuvenate. Therefore, water bins are great for calming down anxious kids and also work wonders with the energy outbursts that children often go through. All you need to do is fill up a container with water, add in some bath toys, balls, blocks or just about anything interesting and your water bin is ready. You can let your imagination fly and add a few drops of bubble bath and even paper boats. Children would love to splash around and play with water and at the same time, they can learn about the concepts of floating and sinking with ease. Interaction with a water bin also leads to the development of finger muscles as well as fine motor skills.
Sand bins can be really intriguing for children and they can become the site for some exciting and engaging activities. Just fill up a box with sand and bury some toys and treats into it. Children can have a fun time excavating these exciting surprises from the bins. The activity helps them learn how to scoop, dig and bury. Sand bins are also great for playing with siblings or friends as one child can bury the items and the other can try to find them. The concepts of digging and exploration can also be introduced to children through sand bins.
As easy as it sounds, a kitchen bin can be composed out of ordinary items that we find around the kitchen. You can add everything from cereals to different pulses, grains, rice, beans, nuts and the like. You can also add basic kitchen tools such as measuring cups and bowls, wooden spatulas, muffin tins, cupcake moulds, etc. If you want to make things even more exciting, you can mix some rice or vermicelli with food colour and then add them to the box for a visually stimulating experience. Children can learn how to measure, sort, scoop and pour out the items in the box. They can also learn about the different grains and pulses and what they are called.
Sensory stimulation is not as daunting as it sounds and it can be easily incorporated through a play way method. It is important to understand that the objects that might seem ordinary to us are supremely fascinating for children, which is why interaction with sensory bins can be a fulfilling as well as an enriching activity for young learners.
(The writer is a parenting coach and founder of YouTube channel Get, Set, Parent with Pallavi. She is also the Vice President of the Early Childhood Association and the Founder of the Brainy Bear Preschool & Activity Club chain.)
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