We created a Valentine's Day themed sensory bin. The contents were irresistibly fun for our daughter as she worked on both early math and fine motor skills!
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Our contains white rice, Valentine colored pompoms (Did you know they were originally called pompons?), various kinds of hearts, cupids, and flowers, a small shovel and rake, and containers used to dump and pour. We need to play with this bin inside since it's cold out so we put a blanket under it for easy clean up. We added an ice cube tray so we could work on one to one correspondence which is a precursor for counting correctly.
Our daughter only just turned two but she loves sorting. One morning she asked for her bin while I was working on household chores. After allowing her to play independently for awhile, I sat to observe what she was doing. We started chatting about how items were the same and different. There were times when I wouldn't have understood why she sorted the items the way she did until we talked about it. Alternatively, I started to sort for her and let her continue to sort additional items in the tray. She was practicing fine motor skills (check out that pincer grasp) and working on math concepts naturally. I had provided the materials and the rest was up to her. Plus we were having so much fun together yet she had also explored it independently while I worked on other tasks.
Inviting a friend over to explore the bin allowed our daughter to have someone who could show her new skills she might not have thought to try independently and vice versa. We also had a chance to review and model how to play with the bin appropriately. As she "taught" her friend how to use the bin she was also refreshing the "rules" in her own mind. This also gave me time to clean up after dinner while they were engrossed in the bin.
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