Sensory Bin Ideas
Rocks and Stones
The “twins” so called only because they are a few weeks apart in age, love to play outside and are especially drawn to the rocks and stones we have by the water wall and dry river bed. They love to pick them up and put them into buckets and could sit there for extended time periods upwards of 30 minutes which is an eternity for a ~1 year old. Because of their fascination I thought the rocks would make for a nice sensory bin filler to play with under the deck when it’s too sunny or too wet for the toddlers to sit outside and to bring nature inside during the colder months of the year. If you don’t have your own supply of stones you can buy them at most nurseries or garden shops.
- Like anything these toys come with their own risks. Choose rocks that are too large to fit into a toilet roll to reduce the risk of choking, teach children that “we don’t throw rocks” and give them a good wash with soap and dilute bleach because they’re sure to taste a rock or two.
More than just a Rock
With the start up of our preschool curriculum I am on the lookout for ways to incorporate letters into the children’s playtime to help encourage an interest in the alphabet and foster pre-reading pre-writing skills in the older children. I turned some of the stones into alphabet & Number stones simply by writing the letters on with permanent markers- I use the 80’s Glam set from Sharpie. If you want to go a step further you can paint each stone and seal it with varnish for a image that is more clear and long lasting but I opted for the faster sharpie version this time.
On the front of the stones I wrote the alphabet in capital letters and on the reverse side I wrote the corresponding lower case letter. For the number stones I put the number on one side and the corresponding number of dots on the other side.
A friend of mine who works at a daycare said that many children learn the alphabet’s upper case letters but not the lower case letters so I have made an effort to display both the upper and lower case letters around the daycare.
Ways to Play
There are tons of different ways to use stones in play as I have found from only a brief visit to Pintrest. Aside from just feeling and sorting the stones you could use them to spell words such as our theme word (Friend) or to practice spelling your child’s name.
Just add Water
When it comes to my littles theres very little that can’t be improved by simply adding a little water to the mix. Their love of water borders on obsession and they will go to great lengths to get their fingers on something wet or slimy. By just adding a bucket of water you can transform these ordinary stones into a whole new experience. To keep the fun going a little longer try adding a selection of containers and different temperatures of water. Another option is to give the children a bowl of water and a paintbrush and let them paint the stones. Draw their attention to the way the water makes the stones change colour.
More Ideas for Fun with Stones
These are a few more ideas for what you can do with your stones. I would love to make a set like the ones pictured below, they are called “Story Stones” and you can find many examples and ideas online. I especially like the idea of doing a set of story stones to go with your child’s favourite story or perhaps a bag to coordinate with your monthly theme like the feelings stones below. You can make them yourself if you are handy with a paintbrush or you can buy your own set through Etsy. I have a feeling my mom Linda could use her image transfer technique to make black and grey images from photocopies, maybe this post will inspire her to make a set : )
I just spoke with my mom and she said that if you give the rocks a coat of white paint and then use the orange oil image transfer technique that would work out nicely. They wouldn’t last for water bins but they should be fine if you just reserve them for story time. I will definitely be making a set of my own, time to get out my white cottage paint! Now I just need to decide what type I’ll do.