I have seen sensory tables for children used in therapeutic ways before, but never thought about setting one up at home. I have no idea why not. They are not only educational, they are fun.
For a few months, I "pinned" ideas, made grand plans to build or somehow obtain a giant table that could hold huge bins of material, and went a little crazy.
Then I decided that if I kept on dreaming, I'd likely end up putting The Perfect Bin together for my daughter as she was leaving for college.
If you have a plastic container, you have a sensory bin. It also helps to have something to put under said container.
I have ours on our dining room table. PLEASE, if you do this, you must must MUST not walk away from your child. Don't even take your eyes off of them.
Sensory bins are a week-long (or longer!) activity.
I bought the water beads in the floral section of the craft store. The blog I found this idea on said she had researched the beads before handing them to her toddler and found them to be non-toxic, but upon closer inspection, they are very similar to silica gel. Either way, don't let your pets or children eat them, and wash hands after play.
Here are pictures from our first-ever sensory bin.
Day 1: We poured the dried beads into our bucket. Many observations were made.
Day 2: The beads got huge overnight!
She was a bit hesitant to dive in (while I, on the other hand, couldn't stop running my fingers through the beads), so I gave her some different scoops and bowls to work on spoon wielding and transferring from one place to another.
Warning! These things BOUNCE.
For our third day, I buried foam letters, buttons, and small, plastic toys in the beads. Once she figured out there were things hidden in the beads, she was anxious to jump in!
On the fourth day, the beads were getting a little dehydrated, so I filled the bin with water once more. The beads take on a hazy appearance in water. It is a great visual for how atoms interact in liquid form, but at 13 months old, my daughter isn't quite there yet. (Maybe we'll try again at 18 months.)
As you can see, these were very popular. The cat enjoyed playing, too. (Before I locked him out of the room, much to his dismay. I didn't want him chewing on them.)