Tag Archives: sensory bin

Glue

I both love and detest glue.  I love its potential as a tool for crafts – to adhere two or more items together.  However, there is a long list of annoying things about glue.

Sometimes it is too wet – damaging the paper or taking too long to dry so the children get frustrated and often give up before they successfully complete their project.  Glue is easily spilled and difficult to get it from the container to the spot you want it to be.

Sometimes it is too dry – clogged squeeze bottles, shriveled up glue sticks, glue pots containing rubberized mounds of  old glue.  I find it nearly impossible to have good glue available for the children to use independently whenever they want it.  At least 75% of all the glue I buy gets wasted – thrown out without ever getting used for crafts.

Cleaning up glue is another frustrating task.  Using water just thins it out spreading it further and further until the entire table is coated.  A dry paper towel sticks to the glue on a table more permanently than any of the craft supplies we tried to attach.  Clean-up is more time consuming than set-up and creation combined.

In an effort to find a solution to my issues with purchased glue I’ve tried several homemade glue/paste recipes.  Most have failed to provide good results – often easy to work with but the crafts simply fall apart after the glue dries.  However, recently I tried this recipe;

• 1 1/2 Cups Water
• 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
• 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
• 1/2 Cup Cornstarch

Pour 3/4 cup of the water into a medium sized pot along with the corn syrup and vinegar. Bring this mixture to a full boil, stirring often.
While you are waiting for that mixture to boil, mix the remaining cold water and the cornstarch together. Beat well to remove all of the lumps. Slowly stir the water and cornstarch into your boiling mixture, stirring constantly. Bring this mixture to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.
Once cooled, put the glue in a covered container and wait at least a day before using.

The resulting jelly-like product was easy for even the youngest artists to scoop and spread;

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Everyone was impressed by how easy this glue was to work with;

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It is so sticky that layers upon layers of papers were quickly adhered together;

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Even when only part of the paper touched the glue gravity wasn’t strong enough to release it after it dried – and it dried quickly too;

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Stored  in a covered container, the homemade glue was still sticky and spreadable the following week but I wasn’t certain how long it would remain ‘good’ so I decided to use all the remainder in our sensory bin.  I gathered a bunch of other leftovers – shredded paper, sand, powdered paint, potpourri, etc.  The toddlers were curious and examined the dry ‘ingredients’.

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I envisioned that once the glue was added we would be able to use the mixture much like clay and form it into shapes.  However, the children were hesitant to touch it now.

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It was so very sticky that mounds of shredded paper was instantly stuck to the hand of anyone who dared to touch the glue.  It was an extreme sensory activity.  One by one the children began to mix the items together in the bin – very hesitantly – mostly just trying to bury the glue.

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It wasn’t until I added a bit of water that the children became less reluctant to participate.  Even then they didn’t really seem to like the incredible stickiness.  They were however fascinated by the potpourri – picking out the bigger pieces and peeling apart the layers.

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Not what I was expecting but very interesting to watch.  Still, the best was yet to come.  This glue, as sticky as it seems, cleans up in seconds.  I was so very impressed.  A quick rinse under running water and it is completely gone!  No sticky hands. No messy containers. No residue on the table.  Nothing.

Easy to make.  Easy to use. Easy to clean up.  Wow!

The Christmas Bin

I have a couple of big bins that I call sensory bins.  Mostly we just use them for mixing stuff for messy play.  Recently I added a bunch of Christmas items to the biggest bin.

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There are so many decorations that have wonderful sensory qualities but wouldn’t be acceptable to have as loose parts in the playroom with infants & toddlers (and cats).  Putting them in a sensory bin gives the opportunity for exploring these materials in a safe, contained, easy to supervise manner.

I included some of our tubes which were used as funnels for dropping other items through.  The bead chains were a challenge because if you let go before you got them in past the half way point the weight of the chain pulled the whole thing out.  It was frustrating but with a little trial and error and a lot of persistence there was success.

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Many of the children enjoyed wrapping and tying the long strands.

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Decorating the tubes was very popular – sometimes you couldn’t even see the tube after it was decorated.

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I was going to add scented items to the bin but it still smells like the sweet grass we had stored in it last year – Mmmm.  I did add some bells, they don’t make much noise if you hold them but sound great as you dig through the bin.

So many colours, shapes, and textures to explore. These star shaped springs were fascinating.

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The older children enjoyed collecting and sorting all the tiny, little rubber shapes (erasers – hundreds of them).  It was like a tactile seek & find.

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We are all really enjoying this bin.

 

Variety

Sometimes I feel like I should be writing more posts.  I reflect on why I haven’t been writing.  Have I been too busy? It doesn’t always take long to write a post but if I haven’t got a solid hour of time to commit to it I usually don’t start.

Lack of inspiration?  There is always some type of activity or a change that I have made to our play space but sometimes I hesitate to write about it – again.  Maybe I’ve written about a similar activity with a different group of children.  Also, I make so many changes to our environment sometimes I wonder if readers get tired of hearing about them all.

Mostly, I think it is a matter of ‘not enough’ for a full post.  A cute story, exciting activity or pictures for which the description is just missing something.  Sometimes I just can’t explain in a post what was going on and why I thought it was interesting.

Today I simply have a few photos that I want to share along with just a sentence or two – not enough for a full post for each but things I like.  A small variety of pictures such as this one of the toddlers using twigs to go ‘fishing’ in the snow;

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And this one I took when all five of the little ones spontaneously decided to cozy up on the step together and read books;

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And when I brought out the sensory bin with sweet grass, dried herbs, and animals etc  and as the children played the 3 year old stopped briefly, closed her eyes and said “Oh Cheryl, I love it – it smells like your garden.”

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Yes, I love that too. 🙂

Introductions & Outcomes

I think of a ‘Lesson’ as a planned activity with an expected outcome – structured and defined.  An adult led activity with a predefined goal that upon completion is either right or wrong.  Any activity that requires me to constantly ‘correct’ or ‘redirect’ what a child is doing with the supplies is not a learning activity – it is an obedience activity with the goal of conformity to rules and following directions.

Learning through play is all about exploration, experimentation and observation.  Unstructured play offers opportunities for learning without a predefined result – no right or wrong conclusion – no pass or fail.  I consider the majority of our activities to be unstructured.  ‘Planned’ activities are generally just activities that require some type of advance preparation rather than a specific outcome.

Last week I introduced the infants and toddlers to a new sensory bin.

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You might think that the bin has a Valentine theme but that was not intentional.  I wanted the flower petals and the dollar store only had red ones in stock.  If they had had other colors I would have used more than one color.  The foam hearts were chosen for their texture not their color or shape.

The various pieces of green wool were also added for their texture – I have many different colors and types of wool but these ones were left over from another craft and already cut into small pieces so I used them.  The metal trays, paint brushes and water were ‘extra’ textures outside the bin.

Throughout the activity I didn’t instruct the children but I did describe and comment on what they did.  The baby insisted on sitting in a chair;

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Normally the smaller children just use these chairs when they are sitting at the little table because it is difficult for them to reach items on the table when they are sitting on the floor. The sensory bin was on the floor so it was easier to access without the chair but he wanted to sit in it.  His preferred activity didn’t involve the bin anyway.  He enjoyed using the water to paint his hair;

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That’s still a sensory activity using the supplies provided.  It also helps to develop motor skills and coordination.

Some painted individual hearts;

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And arranged them – sorted by colour – on a tray.  Wet foam pieces stick to the metal trays but dry ones slide off;

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Others enjoyed a more physical approach diving into the bin – stirring, tossing, and squishing the items at the same time as another child was meticulously balancing the white hearts around the edge of the bin;

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And the baby moved on to pushing the hearts and petals through the little hole in the top of his paint container and down into the water.

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All of them are learning and developing new skills. The learning outcome is not their ability to copy what I asked them do.  It is their demonstration of what they have discovered and how they put it to use.

We’ll use this bin again in the coming week(s) and I’ll add some other items too.  Maybe the children will continue to pursue these same activities.  Maybe additional equipment will enable them to expand on these activities.  Maybe they will try something completely new.  I’ll make the introduction but we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome will be.

Indoors & Out

We’ve endured some frigid weather in the last month.  Some days with the windchill it has felt like -45C.  Our daily trek down to the end of the street to meet the school bus has been daunting.

Luckily my back yard is sheltered from the wind so it has not felt as cold as the open areas and we have played outside for all but one day.  The children are dressed appropriately for the weather and do not complain – in fact, some of them are disappointed when I say it is time to go in.

On the coldest days we’ve stayed outside for only about 20 minutes.  Our ‘extra’ indoor time was used to explore what happens when we put paint and paper in a salad spinner and spin;

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or shake if you prefer;

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We’ve also investigated a bin full of bird seed;

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However, we still prefer to be outside – discovering how slippery the old cookie sheets get when they are cold.  Some enjoy ‘skating’ on them;

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Others take them to the little hill and try to ‘snowboard’;

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Some have tried using the pipes to ‘ski’ down the slope;

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The wok toboggan is another option – love that it has handles so friends can help out;

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So, indoors or out, we’ve been busy.

Cloud Dough

‘Make Cloud Dough’ is an item that has been on my list of ‘Activity Ideas’ for a long time but we’ve never managed to try it. In fact, it was about two months ago that I bought baby oil for the project and I didn’t even put it away — it has been sitting on my counter taunting me every day.

After attending the Day with Lisa Murphy workshop I vowed not to put it off any longer.  I had played with the cloud dough there;

Cloud Dough at OGL workshop

So, last week I gathered the supplies we needed.  I couldn’t find the bin I usually use for sensory activities — I probably used it for something else and then forgot about it but I’ve decided to blame someone else for ‘stealing’ it.  ‘They’ also neatly packaged up the birdseed and toys that I had stored in the bin too. 🙂

Anyway, I found a different container that worked — maybe even better.  So we started with just flour.

They thought it was 'so soft' and may have been just as happy if we didn't add anything else.

I had put some of the ‘found’ bird seed in the centre section just for additional texture.

It felt 'different' but they liked the flour better.

Next I added the baby oil and they mixed — somewhat hesitantly at first;

No need to measure

Once they became accustomed to the new sensation they really got into it.

We added more baby oil as needed until the texture was 'just right'

Then we added some toys and even some of the birdseed

The animals played an impromptu game of ‘hide and seek’

'Help! I can't see.' says the sheep.

This container even has a lid so when we finished playing we covered it up and used it the next day…and the day after that too – becasue they asked again.

On a personal note — cloud dough is so much better than salt dough when you have dry skin.