Things are a little crazy in our house at the moment – there’s the obvious Christmas craziness, with Mom trying to sort out the house before the family arrives (we’ve managed to set up an intercontinental visit this year – very excited!) and figure out exactly when to start defrosting the turkey and all that, but, to add to the excitement, Little Miss Sara’s decided that she no longer likes any of her old toys… Can you believe that?! It’s almost as if she knows Santa is coming… 😉
So, seeing as how her trusty (?) old blocks and her (ex?) favorite babydoll are no longer doing the trick, i’ve had to get creative – after all, Santa doesn’t come for another couple of days…
Ever since i started doing the sensory bins a while back, Sara’s loved the idea of those special ‘surprise bins! We keep two stacked and ready to go (a dried rainbow pasta one, and a dried bean pirate treasure one) in the living room and she runs up and pulls them out whenever she wants to play with them. So, last night i decided to put together another one for the weekend.
A couple of months ago, while the weather was still good, Sara and i also made an underwater sensory bin using hydrogel beads – they quickly became one of Sara’s favorite things – so i decided to use those as the filler for this sensory bin. As a theme for our sensory bin, i decided to go with ‘jingle bells’… We had a couple of extra Christmas decorations lying around, so i figured, why not? festive and musical!
Sensory bins provide our children with so many opportunities to learn and explore – the benefits are unbelievable! In fact, i did a whole post on that, if you’d like to know more. ‘Music play’ also has many benefits for toddlers. Among other things, toddlers that are exposed to regular music play experience the following benefits…
- Improved concentration and memory
- Improved social skills
- Improved creativity
- These children tend to have better self-confidence
- It helps children connect
- It is a fantastic form of self-expression
So, apart from being festive and fun, our Christmas jingle bell water bead sensory bin is also ‘educational’ (if you want to call it that 🙂 ). Okay, no more ‘small talk’ 🙂 … Let’s get to it…
This is what we used.
A large sealable container (these are great)
Hydrogel/water beads in red, green and clear
Christmas bells (a selection)
An ice scoop
A small sieve
A small metal bowl
A small metal cup
What we did
The very first thing that you need to do is get your Hydrogel beads into the water – they do take about 8 hours to swell out properly. You’ll notice that they look a little ‘nobbly’ and ‘bumpy’ until they’re done fully swelling – this is perfectly normal. To avoid toddler meltdown, i normally sneak the little pellets into a bowl on one of the top shelves in the kitchen where Sara can’t see it and don’t say anything about it until they’re ready to go 😉 ! When the pellets had done their thing and had reached their desired plumpness, i popped them into my container, and swooshed those around for a little while. I was lucky – Little Miss Sara happened to be taking a nap at the time – so Mama got to play with them for a while (without the noisy bells, of course – couldn’t risk waking a sleeping baby). It is seriously mesmerising!
Next, i took out all my Christmas bells. I was using little Christmas decorations – i got them at the dollar store (or, Euro store, to be exact 🙂 ) and snipped of the tassels. I added everything, including the ice scoop and sieve, into the container and then called my daugher and let her loose on the jingly fun!
Sara had so much fun! The first thing she went for was of course the water beads, but then she discovered the hand bell, and started chiming it for all she had! I think she rang that thing for three minutes solid… no kidding! She was scooping water beads, trying to eat them (she knows not to – it’s become a favorite joke of hers to pretend like she’s going to 🙂 ), and putting little bells in the sieve and swooshing it around to see what noise it would make. All in all, we spent a good 45 minutes exploring this new sensory bin! Pretty good music play for a Saturday morning!
We had a fantastic time with our new sensory bin, and i’m sure if you put one together too, you’ll enjoy it just as much. Don’t forget to send us us your pics!
Happy Holidays, everybody!