Well, after seeing how much Little Miss loved her very first sensory bin, i just had to give it another go. I’m so glad i did… we had a blast! Sensory bins have so many benefits, and you can check out a previous post on that here, but the main reason you put them together should always be for the FUN OF IT!
Today i decided to go with a water themed sensory bin – partly because things are starting to cool down now here in Spain, and my little ‘waterbaby’ won’t be getting much chance for water play for a while, and partly just because i know how much she loves to splash! Ooohhh, the joys of being little! So, we put together an underwater ‘ooglie-squooshy’ sensory bin, using things that we had around the house, as well as a few little extra’s from the Euro store around the corner (our version of the dollar store).
What i used for our Underwater ‘Ooglie-Squooshy’ Sensory bin
- 1 large storage bucket
- measuring cups and spoons for scooping
- a large syringe for squirting
- a little jug for pouring (i was looking for the tiny watering cans, but they didn’t have any 🙁 although this worked quite nicely too)
- some rubber duckies to squeeze and to add a sound and bubble element to your sensory bin
- plastic sea animal toys to add to the sea-theme
- some sponges (i cut them into a fish and a star shape – it was very difficult because the sponge is so thick, so don’t laugh, they came out a little ‘wonky’ looking 😉 )
- the magic ingredient – Hidrogel beads (those little beads you buy at the florist to add to your flower vases)
- foil star cut-outs
Fist off all, lets take a quick look at Hidrogel Beads – What are they? Are they poisonous? All that important stuff…
Hidrogel beads, or water beads as they’re also known, are actually meant for use in flower arraignments, to add color, shine and an extra interest factor, while holding in moisture, and keeping the plant fresh for longer. They are non-toxic, and environmentally safe, but should, of course, not be eaten by children. They come in various colors, and last about 4 days once you’ve ‘made’ them. To activate the beads, place them in a bowl of water, keeping in mind that the little guys grow! They go from their original size (about the size of a grape seed) to the size of a marble, in the space of 4 or 5 hours…pretty impressive!
What we did first (or, Step 1)
Soak your Hidrogel balls in water, and find something fun for your little one to do for a good 4 or 5 hours while the Hidrogel balls grow. Alternatively, pop them in just before your little one goes o bed, and let them help you put it all together first thing in the morning. While they are growing, draw some shapes on your sponges (i chose a starfish and a little fishy) and cut those out using scissors or a sharp knife. After having done this sensory bin, i’d actually suggest using thinner sponges, because cutting these were not the easiest job!
Then we… (Step 2)
Put your Hidrogel balls and all your chosen underwater-themed pieces into your container and add water until about the quarter way mark. You want your little one to be able to ‘splish’ and ‘splash’ a bit, but not so much that everything sloshes out of the container.
Finally we… (Step 3)
Pull on your cossies (okay, okay, i didn’t either 😉 – but it IS a good idea to let your little one put on theirs, in any-case, it adds to the ‘fun factor’!) and lay down some towels. I also took a minute or two to show Little Miss Sara the Hidrogel balls (before she saw the actual sensory bin) and explain the rules to her. Even though she’s still very little, you’d be surprised how well she understands! We only had three ‘rules’ this time, they were…
- no eating the pretty balls
- no throwing the pretty balls at big sister (lol! yip – we had add that one in for Kayla’s protection!)
- no climbing inside the water sensory bin
And then… Playtime!
Well, little Miss Sara had a blast! We must have spent close to two hours out there playing with here new toy, and let me tell you, i’ve never seen her play with something for that long in one go, ever! She loved picking up the pretty little balls and squooshing them between her fingers… luckily, she’s not that strong yet, so we only ‘lost’ a couple of the little guys… (rest in peace, dear Hidrogel balls). The sponge provided lots of messy fun – squeezing out the water and wiping the duckies clean, and the jug! Wow! The little Lady just loved taking off the lid, scooping up water and pour it out again. It was a bit of a battle getting her to keep the pouring inside the sensory bin – but we got there eventually, and hey, that’s what the towel was there for!
She final got hungry, so while her big cousin gave her a snack (Thanks Patricia!) Mama finally managed to pack this one away. Definitely a great day of water play!
Please Note: If you’re going to use them in a water-based sensory bin like we did today, i’d suggest taking the Hidrogel balls out of the water, and let them rest in a colander over night so that they don’t carry on growing, and turn into ‘mush’. You can then just pop them back in when your little one is ready to play again.
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