It’s summer-time and the great outdoors offers plenty of opportunities for kids’ sensory activities. But, wait. It’s unbearably hot, raining or just not a nice day to go outside. What now? Bring the outdoors in.
Summer Plant Sensory Bin
We’ve all been there. You’ve meticulously planned the best day ever. It includes a parkside picnic, a backyard art activity and a few hours of in-the-grass play. And then it happens. It starts pouring down rain.
Sure, you could stay out and let your kiddos do a rain dance. That’s fabulously fun. But, then it starts lighting. Your day of outdoor play just became dangerously unsafe.
When your child has to stay in, you don’t have to give up on trying out engaging, hands-on experiences or trade sensory explorations for the TV and tablet. A sensory bin lets your toddler or preschooler explore, make discoveries and learn through her senses – all in the safety of your own living room.
This kids’ sensory activity is all about plants and other natural items. Before putting together the sensory bin, you need to collect a few materials. You can do this on a dry, ‘nice weather’ day and store them for later. Or you can take the kids out for a few moments, provided there is no lightening, to pick out fallen leaves, flower petals, twigs and pebbles.
Choose items that represent an array of different textures, colors and smells. We choose a few mint leaves from our garden, along with pink and purple flower petals and even some flowering weeds.
Learning and Development
- Sensory exploration- touch, smell, sight
- Fine motor skills- eye-hand coordination, grip
- Science- nature and plant-life
- Color identification and recognition
Materials for the Activity
- Natural items such as flower petals, fallen leaves, twigs and pebbles
- A plastic tub or plastic-ware container
- Shaving cream
- Cardboard or card stock paper
- After picking out the natural materials, bring them inside.
- Put the materials in the tub or container. Ask your child to explore them through her senses – except for the sense of taste. She can describe the colors, smells and textures. If she’s not sure where to start, ask her what she feels when she touches the materials or how they smell to her.
- Keep playing with the materials. You can even add water so that your child can find out what happens when the items get wet.
Add an Art Extension
Get artsy while still exploring through the sense. Squeeze a dollop of shaving cream onto cardboard or card stock paper.
Your child can mix the nature materials from the sensory bin into the cream, creating a plant paint project.
Are you looking for more sensory play ideas? Check out these activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
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Erica is a mom, educator and parenting writer, with an MS in child development. When she’s not teaching, she’s busy creating kids’ activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.