Valentine’s Day sensory bin

Last year we didn’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but used the opportunity to do a lot of fun crafts and activities with the symbols of Valentine’s day, like hearts, candies, chocolates etc.

This year I’ve come up with a sensory bin idea for this occasion.

What I used:

  • one big container (IKEA)
  • coloured rice – red, purple, and white (see how to make it below)
  • hearts, candies, feather, beads (whatever you have) to search for in the bin hidden in the rice
  • cups and bowls
  • tools like ladle, tongs, tweezers (I couldn’t find the tweezers 😦 )
How I coloured the rice:
You need:
  • a zip lock bag (IKEA)
  • 2 cups of rice (any kind of white rice will do)
  • food colouring (liquid type is better than the gel)
  • a bit of alcohol (optional)
How to do it:
Put 2 cups of rice in the zip lock bag, add 1 teaspoonful of red (or any other colour) food colouring and half a teaspoonful of alcohol. The latter is optional. It helps to get brighter colours plus your rice will last long if not forever…
Now give it a shake until the colour is everywhere on the rice. (I didn’t but you can do it with your child. It must be fun for them to see how the rice changes colour)
I did the same with the purple rice. As I didn’t have purple food colouring I mixed it out of red and blue beforehand.
I dried the rice on baking paper to make sure it won’t stain my hand and to get rid of the smell of alcohol.
I put the rice in the container (half red, half purple – my daughter did the mixing) and I also provided some white rice for extra fun.

What I put in the bin:

  1.  wooden muffin
  2. purple butterfly beads
  3. sparkly candies (cut out of a foam sheet but you can add real candy, too)
  4. red jingle bells
  5. wooden hearts
  6. pegs with hearts on
  7. purple pompoms
  8. pink flower-shaped beads
  9.  red feathers
  10. felt hearts
I hid them in the rice as much as I could.
Extras: I cut out 6 hearts and wrote the letters of my daughter’s name on them. I also put them in the bin so she can make her name when she finds them. (The easiest way to make the foam hearts is to use a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I pressed it on the foam sheet and cut along the print it made.)

E. was pretty excited about the bin as soon as she saw it.

She poured in the extra white rice.

She happily used the ladle and the tongs.

She used the bowls to put in whatever she found. (It was interesting to see that she separated them like hearts, round things like pompoms, bells, and beads all by herself)

She also enjoyed mixing the coloured rice with her hands.

After she’d found and taken out everything she asked Daddy to find what she’d hidden. Then they took turns and did the same again and again.

The next day I gave her 2 sheets with the objects she can find in the bin on the top and she selected them in each column. We did a little counting as well.

On the second day I also added the letter of “I LOVE YOU”
With a little help she could put it together.

She’s been playing with it ever since.
-Mommy, we can play with it on the floor, too – she said and continued down there.

TWO other activities to do with the rice:

  1. write with fingers
  2. I spy bottle

What are these? Come back later to check them out. I’ll show them to you in another post.

Conker games

Whenever we go somewhere we MUST collect something. My pockets are full of stones, acorns, berries and conkers, just to mention a few. One day we visited Margaret-island (a small island on the River Danube, Budapest) and managed to collect tons of different fruit of various trees and bushes.

Rose hips, conkers, sycamore “rotors”, pine cones, acorns, London plane seed balls, wild pear, seed pods of China tree

 

So during E.’s nap time I put together this tray of all kinds of fruits and a magnifying glass. As soon as she discovered the tray she eagerly examined their texture, the surface and the inside of the fruit.

We collected a full bag of conkers and pine cones, half of which we took to E.’s kindergarten. The other half of cones we’ll use for decoration and Christmas ornaments (see a later post) and the conkers we’ve used to play games with.

Counting conkers
 
 

I put the conkers in a woven basket and placed the number cards on the table. E. needed to put the right number of conkers below the cards.

When we played this game we’d just returned home from the nursery and changed languages. You can hear in this video how she is mixing English and Hungarian, and also, me asking back “Sorry?” all the time in a silly way 😉

I’ve found a super-cute squirrel grid game on prekinders.com and although we didn’t have enough acorns or walnuts that squirrels love eating, we used our conkers as manipulatives for this game.

How does the game go?

E., Daddy and myself played so I printed 3 copies of the squirrel grid (of 20 squirrel) and put LOADS of conkers in a bowl. You’ll need a game die. Of course, the youngest starts the game, throws the game die and identifies the number on it. The player then needs to place the same number of conkers on the grid. We take turns and the winner is who finishes the grid first. (You can play it as an addition game with 2 dice if your child is older. If he/she is younger, you can use a special die with only 1-2-3 on it)

I’ll be the winner, not you Daddy.
Mind you! Conkers are slightly toxic, so it’s better to know that just a very few animals can eat it (like deer), but people and squirrels never.

 Name written in conkers

I prepared my daughter’s name, each letter on a different piece of paper. First, she put the letters in the right order, then following the lines of the letters, she placed the conkers along the lines.

 Krokotak conker mushrooms

What you need:

  • conkers
  • acorns
  • play dough

Not as good-looking as the original idea, but they represent our family: E. mushroom, Daddy mushroom and Mommy mushroom. (from right to left)

Last year we did some conker threading after making a whole on the conkers with the help of a screwdriver. If you haven’t had enough of conkers, check it out.

What do you play with at autumn time? Share with me in the comments.