The Sand and Water Table! It is amazing, it is messy, it is part of a Kindergarten teacher’s life. My Sand and Water Table is always filled with hands on exploratory play items for my Kindies. But I also take advantage of individual sensory bins too. Like my Sand and Water Table, they provide hands on fun but they also are helpful to use when you want more independent work or a great focus on practicing a particular skill. With Easter fast approaching I thought it would be a good time for me to provide a step by step plan for how to make your own classroom set of individual sensory bins.
Step One: Purchase some cheap small containers. My biggest group rotation has 6 kids in it and I wanted to be able for each kiddo in that rotation to have their own sensory bin, so I purchased 6 containers. Think about how many kids will be participating at a time and purchase accordingly. Also keep in mind if you want all of the boxes to be different or if you will double some up.
Step Two: Decide the concepts you want to focus on for the month. Is there a theme? Is there a specific subject area? etc… For this step by step guide I was putting together bins I will use for the whole month of April so I focused on an Easter theme.
Step Three: Take inventory. What do you have around your classroom that would work in a sensory bin. Any laminated cards or games? Any manipulatives or supplies? Anything you could use for filler like cotton balls, pipe cleaners, easter grass? Be creative and have fun always keeping your theme in mind.
Step Four: Go shopping? I specifically put a question mark because sometimes you have the budget to purchase items and other times you don’t. I am always surprised how much stuff I have around my classroom that I can use but I also like to incorporate fun new things too. This is why Amazon, Oriental Trading Company and Target Dollar Spots are my friends.
Step Five: Start assembling! I start with the actual items I need for the task and then I build the box up from there. Sometimes I even use things I purchased to help make the activity. For example, we are practicing numbers 11-20 so I will write on those cute little felt bunnies.
Step Six: Ready for the kids. Make sure the bins are ready for the kiddos. Do you need to include a recording sheet and pencil? Or a wipe off board for answers? Is the box easy to understand or does it need directions? A quick and easy way to add directions is to write steps out on sticky notes and attach them to the lid with some cute washi tape :0)
Step Seven: Store the materials in your bins to use next year. I take the gallon size ziploc baggies and pour all the bins contents inside. That way when this same theme comes around next year I can skip right to step six! If you are just starting out building individual sensory bins, I suggest adding new ones every other month for the first year and then filling in the gaps the next year.
That’s it, quick, easy and so much fun learning for your kiddos! Have you used individual sensory bins in your classroom? I would love to hear some ideas on what you love to put inside!