WHY SENSORY BINS?
I’m such a huge fan of sensory bins. Sensory play supports cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, language development, social interaction, and problem solving skills. That's all fine and dandy, my teacher heart loves the researched benefits of sensory play, but this momma loves sensory bins for the simple reason that toddlers are very busy little people and I have not found anything that holds my son's attention like a sensory bin. Day in and day out, we do many different activities, but he always returns to his bin, never tiring of the scooping, pouring, and transferring!
Before all this magic began, more often than I would like to admit, I was putting my busy 18 month old son in front of the TV to slow him down, just to selfishly give myself a little break. Sensory bins to the rescue! We had used sensory bags and bottles when he was younger for sensory play, and I had been looking forward to the day when I could introduce him to a full blown sensory bin, but I wasn't sure if he was ready...
Would he shovel it into his mouth in great heaping handfuls?
Would he scatter the contents all over the floor making a mess?
Would it even hold his attention, he was always on the go?
But you never know unless you try, unless you give them a chance, unless you teach them. At first he did taste test, but it was taste-safe, he needed that sensory input, to explore in his own way this new experience. With some close monitoring for safety and modeling how to scoop and pour the rice, he was off! Scooping and pouring on his own, and keeping the contents in the bin to the best of his toddler abilities (some days are better than others still), but nothing a quick vacuum doesn't clean up. He was exploring, discovering and playing all while engaging his senses, the TV was OFF, and I had a moment to breath. That is a WIN-WIN-WIN in my book!
Back to the science behind sensory play and the benefits of sensory bins. Toddlers look at, touch, smell, and taste just about anything they come in contact with- this is how they learn. From the outside looking in, a child using a sensory bin looks like a child simply playing in a miniature sandbox. But when their senses are stimulated, messages are sent to their brain, which builds neural pathways that are needed for future learning. Based on educational research, here is what a sensory bin can offer a young child:
Cognitive Development- Sensory play has been shown to build nerve connections in the brain that, in turn, enable your child to complete more complex learning tasks. It is correlated with increased self-regulation, enhances memory, proven to calm children who are anxious or frustrated, and develops awareness of their senses in the most effective way possible- hands on!
Motor Skills- Grasping, pouring, pinching and using tools like tongs, scissors and scoops are working on fine motor skills, which benefit countless daily (future) activities, such as, handwriting, using a scissors, zipping and buttoning clothes.
Language Development- Sensory bins increase language development from experiencing with their hands all there is to see and do, which leads to great conversations and opportunities to model language.
Emotional Development & Play Skills- It is unstructured, open-ended, not product-oriented; it is the purest sense of exploratory learning. Great for both social play and independent play, sensory bins allow children to play cooperatively or side by side. My son has had many positive experiences over a bin of rice with other children!
Math & Science- "STEM" or "STEAM" are the big buzz words right now in education. Counting, measuring, mixing, pouring, dumping, stacking and comparing are all foundations for learning about math and science.
Ok, enough of the nitty gritty... check out the fun Tot Tub sensory bins available in our shop or get creative at home putting together a simple bin of your own for your child.