As a new mama, I am all about gathering tips, ideas, and even tricks from my family, friends, and mamas I have met through playgroups or social groups. There’s so much to learn and figure out with motherhood, on top of life responsibilities … and still be able to keep up your little human’s growth spurt, milestones, leaps, and development. Whew, just by mentioning that I am already starting to feel tired and overwhelmed. But that’s precisely what being a parent and an adult is.
Being a good, responsible parent doesn’t have to be alienating. So I am trying my best to share everything we have learned while our son grows in hopes that it will be of help to other parents. The latest discovery for us is sensory bins. A lot of the moms have sworn that it is heaven sent AND the best thing they could ever hope for. I immediately tried it with our son. Except for us, things didn’t go too well. It’s not a magical option that they easily understand.
Unfortunately for me, I had to learn that the hard way. I placed an assortment of toys into a large baking pan (the glass one to make it harder to lift or flung around) then gave it to my son. He played with it like a champ for a couple of minutes, and then the last thing I remember, the toys and WATER was everywhere. Everything got very messy, and for a moment there I honestly thought I was doing things the wrong way.
Eventually, I found out that you have to train your child to interact with their sensory bins appropriately. That there’s a learning curve for them not to just toss things in and out of their container and let them play with it on their own. Here’s the catch, a sensory bin is an easy and fun activity for toddlers, and it could be less messy too –all in due time.
sensory bin cheat sheet
Tips on how to introduce sensory bins to your kids and teach them how to play it properly
1. Keep it Simple
You should start by giving them a simple sensory bin. No complicated things and avoid different objects at first. Cheerios cereal is a perfect example. Do not mix with any other food. Let your busy toddler scoop and shovel cheerios. Why cheerios? First, it is edible and small but not to the point of a choking hazard. This way you don’t have to worry if your child takes a bite –and best believe he or she will do attempt a few times until they learned not to. Second, it is easy to clean.
2. Accept That This Is Going To Be Messy
The first few times that you try sensory bins with your child, it is going to be really messy. That’s something that you can’t change. So before you venture into this activity, you have to accept this fact and set a realistic expectation. Know that you have to be patient if you want to teach your child how to play with sensory bins. Remember as well that it will be worth it. Basically, your job here is to teach them how to lessen the mess.
3. Take The Sensory Bin Away As Needed
If and when things go crazy, you can always take away the sensory bin. In fact, it is encouraged that you do so. In our household, I try my best to let our son know that he shouldn’t be trying to eat everything or tossing his sensory bin all over the place. This approach reminds them that they should follow the golden rule of keeping the items in the bin. That or they won’t be playing with it. To implement this, you can start by giving them warnings. You can tell your little one that you are going to take it away if they did not follow the golden rule. This will help them realize that by not following the rules, there is a consequence. Also, it somehow promotes obedience too.
4. Find a Spacious Area
It would be better if you set up sensory bins in a spacious area. It gives extra space to play around with less distraction. Plus the fact that it would be much easier to clean up the mess compare to being in a tight spot. If space is an issue, try to clear out a small corner and if possible, lay a rug or mat to help with any mess or water splashes.
5. Watch and Supervise At All Times
If you are going to give your kids a sensory bin, make sure that you have the time to watch and supervise them play. First and foremost of all, this is for their safety. Let’s be realistic, toddlers will always try to put something in their mouth. From personal experience, my son literally tries to put everything in his mouth like as if it belongs there. Second, to keep the mess under YOUR control. This can only be done correctly with YOUR supervision. That way you’re ahead of the situation, and you can quickly let your child or children know that it is not okay to dump everything and throw it everywhere.
The secret to FUN Sensory Bin playtime? A lot of patience and understanding so you can guide and train your child how to play with sensory toys. Obviously, it is not something they know by instinct. This task is just like teaching them how to eat correctly with a spoon and fork. Eating could be really messy in the first few months, and then they slowly learn how to master the skill and start enjoying it.
Sensory bin playtime might seem intimidating at first. While it needs a lot of work, it is not that hard to manage. Just be prepared, show up, remember to give AND take, repeat from step 1 and before you know it, you will have a pro in your hands who is busy enjoying their activities.