I love sensory bins. When my kids are cranky and finding it hard to entertain themselves, sensory play helps them calm down and focus on something other than their bad moods. I’ve enjoyed making themed bins for my four-year-old, Yummy, for a year or more now, but have been finding it hard to find something safe and interesting for Dooter, who is almost 16 months and mouths anything he can get his hands on. At Christmas I made a winter themed bin, using “snow-balls” I cut out from a 3-inch thick piece of foam as a filler. The size of the balls was great since Dooter couldn’t fit them in his mouth, but the bin was a total failure. I’m not sure what it was; it looked beautiful -all white and blue and silvery, but the kids didn’t play with it for more than five minutes. Maybe it was the texture of the foam. Whatever the reason, I was a bit discouraged (cutting out all those snow balls took a loooong time) and didn’t try any new ones until I saw the idea for using plain oatmeal on Train Up a Child as simple and non-toxic sensory play.
Why is it that the simplest things are always the most entertaining? This bin took me about 5 minutes to put together and they have since spent hours and hours playing in it. We started out with a couple spoons and bowls for mixing and stirring but the bin soon got loaded with dishes from their play dishes basket.
A word of warning: though super easy to make and lots of fun to play with, this has been quite messy! I used a vinyl tablecloth underneath to lessen the spread of oats, but it seems to stick to baby feet very nicely and then brush off onto the carpet. I’ve done a lot of vacuuming lately.