Sensory bins are a great way to introduce new concepts to toddlers and preschoolers. Recently, I used a Winter-themed Sensory Bin to introduce the concept of texture.
Texture is a difficult concept to explain to children. (Go ahead, try to explain texture in words a 2 year old will understand!)
However, it’s a really easy concept to show toddlers if you’re not afraid of a little (temporary) mess.
The kids had so much fun exploring this sensory bin and using their expanding vocabularies to describe their interpretations of the different contrasts and similarities between the materials. I loved the the mess was really easy to clean up afterwards – the crimped paper really sticks to itself, and everything was easy to sweep. (Unlike some of our other sensory bins…)
To make this sensory bin I gathered:
- crumpled white paper shreds
- white styrofoam balls (for crafting)
- white ping pong balls
- cotton balls
- coffee filters cut into snowflake shapes
By controlling the similarity of the colours and the “touch temperature” of the materials we are using a Montessori principle to subtly encourage the children to focus their attention on the differences between the textures of the materials.
(If you’re confused by what I mean by “touch temperatures,” we are looking for materials that don’t have a huge difference in how cool or hot they feel at room temperature. For example, adding white metallic objects would introduce a “cold temperature” into the mix, while some fleecy fabric might be “warm” to the touch.)
Also, all of these materials can be imagined to be part of a great snow fall: snow balls, snow flakes, and icicles or streams of falling snow.
While using lots of descriptive language, we also created a few imaginary scenarios and fun challenges while playing with this winter sensory bin, like:
- Finding all of the “hard balls”
- Squishing the cotton balls
- Crumpling the paper shreds in our hands
- Separating the cotton from the paper shreds
- Dropping the coffee filter snowflakes and watching them dance
Texture descriptions that could be used for this winter sensory bin include:
Which words can your kids add to our list?
When making your own winter sensory bin, use materials that you have on hand already. I’m sure if you think about it you’ll realize you have plenty of sensory materials on hand – like I did with including a few sacred coffee filters!
What are your kids’ favourite sensory activities?