Thursday, July 17, 2014

Simple Earth Day Sensory Bin for Kids

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If you're looking for Earth Day sensory activities, then try this easy Earth Day sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers. It uses only two materials.

My boys love to play with water beads. In fact, we have been playing with the same blue water beads for well over a year now and have created some fun sensory play activities with them.  

Now if you've never played with water beads before, then you have to try them out. They're such a fun sensory material! 

Water beads also happen to make the perfect base for this simple Earth Day sensory bin for kids.

Earth Day sensory bin with water beads for toddlers and preschoolers

Earth Day Sensory Bin: What You'll Need

This sensory bin only uses two materials and is quick and easy to put together. Here's what you'll need to do this Earth Day sensory play activity:

  • Blue water beads - They're the perfect material to make the ocean part of this sensory bin. You can find them at Michael's or even the dollar store.
  • Green aloe vera gel - If you want land masses, you have to use the green stuff and not the clear gel. We're going to make the continents - or attempt to - with it.
To set up this sensory bin, fill a large container with the water beads. 

Then next it's time to make some continents with the aloe vera gel. We're not aiming for perfectly shaped continents here. Just close approximations. I simply squirted some aloe vera gel on top of the water beads and then gently spread it around with my fingers. Then I continued to make a few more random land masses here and there.

Earth sensory bin with water beads and aloe vera gel

Close up of a preschool Earth sensory bin

Time for Some Hands-on Sensory Play with the Kids

When I presented the bin to the boys, I encouraged them to talk about what it looked like it might be. My oldest, J, being literal, said it was blue and green. Then he specified further by pointing out that there were water beads. So I prompted them with another question: "Does it look like any planet you know of?" J then declared that it was Earth.

Initially, both boys dug their hands into the water beads and avoided the aloe vera gel. J eventually touched the aloe vera gel and was really surprised by its texture. He actually giggled when he touched it.

Child touching aloe vera gel as part of a sensory bin for Earth Day

Soon both boys were swirling and mixing the materials in this sensory bin together. You could even talk about color mixing here. I mean look at how the water beads turned into more of a teal color.

Kids playing with water beads in a sensory bin

Child's hands in a water bead sensory bin

The really neat thing about this combination of sensory materials is that the aloe vera gel made the water beads sticky. They even became somewhat moldable. This allowed the water beads to stick to the kids' hands for a few moments, which was pretty cool.

Child holding blue water beads in their hands

Child holding blue water beads in their hands

Blue water beads sticking to the top of a child's hands

Both materials in this Earth Day sensory bin provide a soothing and calming sensory play experience for kids. My boys had a lot of fun with it. 

Other Sensory Play Activity Ideas You'll Love

A simple Earth Day sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers