Thursday, April 11, 2013

Arctic Sensory Bin & Small World Play

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Create an arctic animals sensory bin and small world with real ice, snow, and water beads.

Water beads have always been a hit with the boys over the past two years. I recently bought some new blue ones and I loved the rich blue color. They instantly made me think of the ocean. 

So I decided to use the water beads as part of a small world for the boys to explore. 

And since it's still pretty much winter around here, I thought it would be fun to incorporate some snow from outside and create an Arctic sensory bin and small world.

Arctic animals small world play and sensory bin with water beads, snow, and ice

Arctic Sensory Bin: What You'll Need

Here's what you'll need for this arctic animals sensory bin and small world play:

  • Large plastic bin
  • Blue water beads - You could substitute water with blue food coloring if you'd prefer.
  • Large ice cubes - I froze some water in round metal tins overnight.
  • Snow - Yes, we still have an abundance of snow here so I just grabbed a bucketful from outside.
Then organize the materials into a little arctic scene, kind of like this:

Arctic sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers

Preschool arctic small world play

Arctic animals small world play

Arctic Small World Play for Toddlers & Preschoolers

While K was having his nap, I set up this sensory bin for J to explore in the kitchen. He initially gravitated towards the snow.

Playing with an arctic sensory bin

Then he started to cover the ice with the water beads. He described the beads as blueberries as he played with them.

Blue water beads in an arctic sensory bin

Blue water beads in an arctic sensory bin

Preschooler playing with water beads in an arctic animals sensory bin

Once the ice was completely covered, J exclaimed, "Look. Cookie Monster!" Funny thing though. We've never watched Sesame Street. We have just read maybe one or two books where Cookie Monster makes an appearance. So I'm not too sure where he picked that up from. It was still cute though.

J was still ignoring the figurines at this point unless it was to move them out of the way. He chose to play with the ice next, picking up the chunks of ice dropping them into the bin. He also spent a lot of time tasting the ice because why not.

Once he was done tasting the ice, he was determined to put them in the garbage. I suggested that he place them in the sink so that they could just melt away. He did just that, leaving the bin with just the water beads and the Arctic figurines. 

So that must mean it's a perfect time to step on in.  Honestly, a sensory bin isn't successful around here until someone climbs in.

Child climbing into arctic sensory bin

Now that the snow, ice, and water beads have been thoroughly examined, J moved onto the figurines. He was fascinated with the caribou, which he was convinced was a goat. He kept making it run around while making some goat noises.  

Figures in an arctic sensory bin

Then he spent a lot of time looking at the musher.

Figures in an arctic sensory bin

At this point, K woke up from his nap.  So, naturally, he wanted to join in.  He was so fascinated with the whale figurines.

Kids playing with water beads in an arctic animals sensory bin

Toddler playing with arctic animals sensory bin

Then the boys spent some time swishing their hands through the water beads, eventually getting them everywhere, but they did help pick up most of them.

Hooray, for another successful sensory bin!

Other Winter Sensory Bins You'll Love

Arctic sensory bin and arctic animals small world - with water beads, snow, and ice