Spring has sprung!
One of my favorite parts about this time of year is the return of all the song birds. I love hearing them and seeing them. Even on a cloudy day, hearing the birds can make it bright for me.
In honor of the start of spring this week, I have a new sensory bin to present that's all about birds.
Tres loves the one worm in the bin. Of all the fillers and colorful choices, she consistently plays with that worm.
This is one of my favorite sensory bins of all that I have made. I like the topic--birds. I like the little nests and the worm. Most of all, I like the free resources I found to put with the bin. They transform it from something fun to something fun AND educational. (Links to the FREE printable resources I used are at the bottom of this article.)
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To go with the Backyard Birds Toob, I printed some three-part cards from Natural Beach Living. At this site, you can find all manner of educational activities and resources along with other lifestyle information. It's a site I have used often when creating sensory bins and other activities for the kids.
Another site that's great for a Toob lover like myself, is Living Montessori Now. Safari Ltd. gave the site's creator tons of free Toob keys to share. While each Toob figure is identified on it's bottom, the tiny writing can be hard to read. These keys are wonderful for identifying each Toob figure, and they make a great resource for matching activities. This site is where I found the Exotic Birds Toob key for my bin.
The top image shows a sampling of the Backyard Bird cards, while the bottom pic is of the Exotic Birds Toob key.
Beyond merely playing with the bin, the cards and the key let my older kids learn the names of some birds while the younger ones work on matching skills.
To preserve the printables, I covered them in clear contact paper. I do this with just about everything I print that my kids will need to handle more than one time. Therefore, I have used every brand and style of clear contact paper on the market (it feels that way, any how). By far, my favorite is the Duck Brand Peel N' Stick Clear Laminate (I find this 12"X36" roll easier to handle than the 18"X24" option). My local Wal-Mart carries it, so I can just grab a roll while I'm out if I'm running low. Otherwise, I order it.
While Little Mama is matching the birds to their picture, a thief is trying to steal some sensory bin pieces.
Concerning the printables, here are their links. You'll have to scroll towards the bottom of the page to get a direct link to the Backyard Birds cards.
Supply list for the sensory bin:
Container: Any container will do. If you need to purchase something new, I have found that in-store prices beat online, but it may be different for you. For legitimate storage containers, the Sterilite brand tends to be cheaper than it's competitors. I often use these Rubbermaid food containers (specifically this kind in the case for the bin shown). I think they are the most cost effective.
- Bird Figures: I love the Backyard Birds Toob and Exotic Birds Toob for this bin because they match with the printables I found. If you want something a bit cheaper (though Toobs aren't too bad), Dollar Tree carries fake birds in their floral section. They are Styrofoam at their core, so I don't know how well they will hold up. Hobby Lobby also carries a good variety of fake birds in their floral section (use that 40% off coupon). Again, I'm not sure how well they would do in a sensory bin. I think it probably depends on the kid using them. That's another reason I like the Toob figures, though. They're sturdy.
- Bird Seed: Have you ever heard of Piggly Wiggly? It's a Southern and Midwestern grocery store of yesteryear (the first truly self-service grocer) that has a few locations hanging on in rural, isolated areas (i.e. places where Wal-Mart ain't). Guess who has one near her? This chick. Any who, I wanted some bird seed for this bin, but it can be expensive, especially for the small amount I needed. One day, while at The Pig, I spied a huge display of decently sized bags of bird seed for 99 cents. And the rest is history. Of course, you may not be around a Piggly Wiggly. In that case, here's a ten pound bag for a great price ($3.79 at the time of this writing). That's enough for several bins or maybe just one bin and a bunch of real birds.
- Nests: Hobby Lobby has a range of nest colors and sizes in their floral section, and that's where I bought my two-pack. If you need something from online, this six-pack of two-inch nests includes twigs.
- Leaves: I don't remember where I got my leaves. The most likely candidates are Dollar Tree or Dollar General around fall time. I'm not even sure what year I bought them. Here's a selection of similar leaves. You can use real leaves, too. I didn't because I had these, and real leaves crumble.
- Driftwood Pieces: I had these left over from a pirate sensory bin I made. That's the only reason I considered them for this bin. They kind of look like logs cut in half, so I went with it. I got my pack at Dollar Tree, and I cannot find anything like them online. If you don't have a Dollar Tree nearby and want a wood component, you could grab some free twigs out of the yard.
- Rubber worms: These came from the Halloween party favor section at Wal-Mart. They were a dollar. I mainly purchased them for a Halloween bin I made, but I saved some for a flower themed bin and put one in this bin, because the early bird catches the worm! Here is an online alternative. But if you have a fisherman in your life, it would probably be much cheaper to "borrow" some earthworm lures from them. Don't tell them it was my idea, though!
For more sensory bin inspiration, see my Pinterest board.