What is a cure for boredom with a preschooler? A sensory box! If you have been in a preschool lately, you’ve probably seen one there, the big table with sides or box filled with rice or beans and buckets, shovels and scoops. I had found several photos on Pinterest that led me to blogs that inspired me to create one for my son and realized now what a great tool it is. Not only was it cheap and easy to make with him, it has kept him busy several nights now while I made dinner, as he could sit at the kitchen table and play while I cooked. I found a wonderful description of why sensory play is so important to young children from Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute. She describes all of the educational benefits to sensory play.
So while this may not be a craft exactly, creating a sensory box with your child can be easily done and will provide them with hours of fun. I had been planning to do a holiday themed one for my son, but before I had the chance to purchase St. Patty’s Day themed items, he got sick and stuck home from preschool. I wanted something fun for him to do that was low energy so that he could still play while recouping from his virus. I raided some of our toy bins and kitchen drawers to come up with supplies, and used a medium sized plastic storage tub with lid. I highly recommend using a clear plastic box with a lid so that you can safely store the box when it’s not being used. I gave my son all of the supplies for our sensory box and he assembled it himself.
Supplies: These are the things I used…use your imagination for what your child would enjoy.
Medium sized plastic storage box with lid
3 pounds of dried beans (can substitute rice, gravel, pebbles or pasta)
coffee scoops, spoons, measuring cups
little people figures
construction vehicles and cars
swizzle sticks and straws
Fill the box with the beans; we used 3 pounds because that was what I had on hand, but another pound bag would have been good too. Add toys and scoops/cups. Dig in!
My son ran to fetch his toy car collection once he figured out what the box was all about. He loved digging in the beans with his little toy diggers and bulldozers, as well as using the cups to rain beans down upon the cars.
While the table and floor did end up with some beans scattered, they were very easy to clean up and my son even took a turn with the broom sweeping them up. I’ll keep my eye out when shopping for little things that might fit into the box to keep it new and fun for him. It really was a great activity to keep him busy while I made dinner without involving the television!
If you are making a sensory box for several children, I suggest getting a larger plastic box and more beans, so that way there is enough space for all to play. I think two kids could probably play together with the one we made, but that depends upon personalities of the children. Or, make a box for each child if sharing can be an issue! If you make a sensory box, I’d love to hear what you used in yours.
You can find more crafts and other adventures with a preschooler on Diane’s blog Knitting Zeal.