If you have read some of my other posts, you are familiar with the fact that several of my children have Autism. When we first started receiving therapy for our oldest son, I had a lot to learn. Bless the people who worked with us, little did I know that they would turn into some of the biggest supporters in my life.
We were blessed with an amazing OT & special instructor who I still to this day, call on when I’m unsure or second-guessing myself. Through these sessions, I learned how to help my child learn through play. Sensory play is a HUGE part of child development. It helps children with language development, fine motor skills, motor planning, and problem-solving, to name a few. Wondering what in the world sensory play is? It’s play that uses your senses the most common one that comes to mind is play-doh.
I have always tried to encourage sensory play. For us, it’s an opportunity to tackle many obstacles, and I find that my children have a much easier time engaging in sensory play than something like building blocks. Not to mention it keeps them busy for more than a few minutes. That being said, I am always trying to find fun new (to us) ideas and bonus if they’re budget-friendly!
One of the first ideas I came across when I started searching was a sensory table. I loved this idea, after all, that was my favorite spot to play in kindergarten! At that time, however, I did not want to spend the money on a new sensory table as they can be pretty expensive. Of course, I was drooling over ones like this one on amazon. Keep in mind this was before social media yard sale pages where you can find nearly anything second-hand. My husband is pretty handy (let’s not tell him that) and was able to come up with a much cheaper solution. He made a wooden frame that could easily hold a plastic container like this one. We decided to use a larger bin because at that time we had already had our second son.
If I could go back and talk to myself as a new parent, I’d say skip the table and do multiple bins that we could get out and rotate. Honestly, small bins like you use to organize would work just fine. Santa brought my children kinetic sand, and I purchased these bins from Target for $3 that work so well. Each kid had their own place to play, and I love how they are just tall enough to help keep stuff in but the kids can work in easily. When we get them out, we sit at the table, and then when they’re finished the lid snaps on and stores easily down on our craft shelf. I also grabbed trays (similar to these) with a bit of a lip from Target in the dollar spot which works well for the bigger kids who tend to be a bit less messy (well only some days).
You can make fabulous themed sensory bins, or keep them simple. Here are some of my favorite ones that we have tried.
- Beans ( keep in mind of ages here because if your child is younger beans are fun to stick up a nose for some reason)
- Sand ( if you’re worried about your child eating it I saw a wonderful idea to crush cheerios to get the same texture. sounds like a job for my ninja)
- Colored rice
- Water beads
- Instant snow
- Cotton balls or pompoms
The list of possibilities is endless. You can change them monthly or make them themed. Small pebbles or gravel and trucks or play snow and frozen characters. So many chances for play!
The biggest thing to remember with sensory play, is to ignore all the mess that is being made and to embrace all the learning going on!
* Ashley Gable is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Also this blog may contain other affiliate links This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.