April showers bring May flower sensory bins!
First of all, I am thrilled to be back on my site. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was having some computer issues. I've been locked out of my site for about a week. I didn't exactly resolve the problem, but I did find a way to work around it. I'm happy for that but bummed because I couldn't get my Mother's Day inspired Favorite Book Friday article up in time. But life goes on, and it's coming next Friday instead.
Enough of that, though. Let's get to this adorable sensory bin, shall we?
I'm not taking any credit for the idea behind this bin. Most of my bins are a mixture of something I've seen on Pinterest and my own ideas. A (very) few of them are all me. This one is a complete copy. You can check out my Sensory Bins board on Pinterest and you'll see the originals that inspired me. Actually, I've found a few different sources for this sensory bin, so it looks like I'm not the first to recreate it. I have no idea who was the first, but I thank them.
On it's own, this bin is great for pretend play, strengthening motor skills, and for simply being fun. As with some of the other bins I've made, I included some printables to increase the education factor too.
With these cards, my kids can learn the names of the flowers they're handling and play a simple matching game (which is great for the younger ones).
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I used the Safari Ltd Flowers Toob in this bin, and there are a multiple free printable sources I've found that coordinate with it. I'll link to the one I used and others I've found at the end of the article. You'll also find a source list there for all of the components I used in this bin, should you want to copy a copier.
To satisfy your curiosity, here are the kinds of flowers that come in the toob: hibiscus, tulip, bird of paradise, daffodil, sunflower, rose, and orchid.
Above you can spy two prime examples of the child species in its natural habitat. Notice one is wearing mismatched pajamas, while the other is sporting her sister's too-big shirt and has decorated herself with marker. But seriously--can I get some credit for keeping it real?
If you don't want to use the Safari Ltd. toob, you can always substitute it for something else, like artificial/silk flowers. One or two of the examples on my Pinterest board go this route. Also, I'm pretty sure I saw some miniature flower products at Hobby Lobby around the supplies for fairy gardens.
Obviously, the cards I used would not likely match up with these alternatives, but it would be really easy to make your own cards to go with whatever kinds of flowers are used in your bin. In case the thought of doing that intimidates you, I am also providing links at the bottom of the article to sources for free flower cards that aren't associated with any particular type or brand of flower figure. Hopefully, you can easily locate the kinds of flowers you're using!
Working on those left-handed, backwards motor skills? I don't think that's the correct way to use a rake. Oh well.
Here's a handy tip concerning printables for sensory bins: preserve and protect them with 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.
And with no further ado, here are the promised links to FREE printables!
Coordinates with Safari Ltd. Flowers Toob
The cards I used are the first link from Treehouse Schoolhouse. Scroll to the Themed 3-Part Cards section. The Natural Homeshool printables can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the page. You have to agree to their terms and conditions and provide your name and email address to download the printables.
Generic Flower Cards
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...unless it's plastic.
Supply list for the sensory bin:
Container: Any container will do. If you need to purchase something new, I have found 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.
- Black rocks: I got them at Dollar Tree in the floral section. I wanted something other than sand, as I had used the coarse black sand they offer in our Halloween bin. These rocks are perfect. They are smaller than aquarium rocks (but I think you could probably use those as well), so they more closely resemble dirt. The size of the rocks also makes standing the flowers in the pots pretty easy. I can't find anything online that I'm certain is similar to the rocks I used, but here are aquarium rock options, if you're in a pinch. Keep in mind that it won't take much, if you use a container similar in size to what I used. I'm estimating a 5 pound bag would be enough to fill your container and leave plenty left over for another project. If you're feeling crazy, you could just use real dirt from the yard or potting soil. I'm not sure how well they would support the flowers, which is why I went with the rocks.
- Flowers: As mentioned, I used the Safari Ltd Flowers Toob. If you've seen any of my of my other sensory bins, you know I love Safari Ltd Toobs.
- Mini-pots: I bought a multi-pack of pots at Dollar Tree. My local store has carried them every spring in their gardening display for the past couple of years. There have been times when I needed these little pots for some other project and it wasn't spring, so I turned to Hobby Lobby. They always carry assorted sizes of terra cotta pots. Be sure to use that 40% off coupon, though! Otherwise, here is an online option.
- Small Gardening Tools: I wanted some appropriately sized gardening tools for my bin just like the ones I spied in an example on Pinterest. I hopped on Amazon and spent too much time scrutinizing the different choices I found. I wanted something the right size and price. This set fit the bill. Of course, you could just put some plastic spoons in the bin and call them shovels or spades. Sensory bins don't have to be elaborate or pricey. I was just really drawn to those little tools, and should I ever get into cactus or succulent gardening, I'll be prepared.
- Rubber worms: These came from the Halloween party favor section at Wal-Mart, and they were a dollar. Here is an online alternative. I mainly purchased them for the Halloween bin I made, but I used some in a bird-themed bin and the rest went in this bin. I included the worms because you'd find worms when digging in real dirt, and their rubbery texture is a nice contrast against the rocks. 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!
- Large pebbles: This is another Dollar Tree floral section find, but you can find bags of river pebbles in any floral section for around the same price. I threw in a few that were left over from some other project. These look fairly similar to what I used. And as with other nature based sensory bin components, you can find free rocks in the yard. Unless you have a creek, they might not be as smooth or nice looking as the river pebbles you can buy. We have a creek, but our pebbles are way smaller than these. The ones I bought offer a different texture and size than the small black rocks that serve as the main filler for the bin.
For more sensory bin inspiration, see my Pinterest board.