If you’re a busy mom, you can probably relate to this. Two days of the week, my toddler is home with me while I am working, and I was struggling to keep her busy and engaged (and allow me time to focus on work). I decided to give sensory bins a try, and I have never looked back.
After using sensory bins at home, I began thinking of the possibilities for sensory bins in the classroom. After all, sensory bins are a great tool to support fine motor development, critical thinking, and aligning subject matter even in the classroom.
I knew the benefits – but I was also aware of the possible cons. The amount of supplies needed. The mess. The stress. Honestly, I was ready to give up before I even started!
I did eventually take the plunge into using sensory bins in the classroom, and I wish I had done it sooner! It is possible to use sensory bins in the classroom, without all the fuss. I want to share with you my sensory bins for beginners tips, so you can reap the benefits, too!
Tip #1: Gather some basic tools.
There are several basic supplies that can be used in a variety of different sensory bins. Create a stockpile of these items to make your set-up simple: a medium bin, rice, cotton balls, pom poms, beans, scoops, spoons, measuring cups, small plastic cups, and kid tweezers. Most of these items can be found at a grocery store, or you may even have extras lying around the house! If you don’t have all the supplies right away, start with what you already have access to.
Tip #2: Embrace the Mess
Okay, I know I said we were going to create sensory bins without the fuss, but as a sensory bin beginner, mess is going to happen! Before your students fully learn the rules and expectations, things will probably end up on the floor. Stick to easy to clean objects, like cotton balls and pom poms at first.
Tip #3: Done is Better than Perfect!
Time to create your first bin. Stay away from pinterest, and just have some fun! Fill the bins with some of your items and give students the opportunity to explore. You can go through expectations with students, such as keeping items inside the bins, but expect things will go awry. With my toddler, the first interaction with sensory bins had cotton balls covering our back porch! Expect the messy.
As you use sensory bins more and more, continue to clarify expectations and set boundaries. Set clear consequences, as well. For example, if students are throwing items or dumping the sensory bin on the floor, they will clean the mess and then be done with the bin for the day. However, let them know they will have an opportunity to try again in the future.
After a while of using sensory bins, you’ll notice students following the expectations you set, and you can add in more fun items to your bin! These new items over time will create more engagement in the bins, and open up opportunities for problem-solving, language acquisition, and curiosity.
Want to learn more about how you can incorporate sensory bins for academic purposes? I have another blog post about different ways to incorporate sensory bins into your classroom for different content area skills. Read the blog here!