Friday, May 30, 2014


Dirt: a Sensory Bin Challenge

Dirt.  Sensory Bins.  Preschoolers.  

You may wonder why sensory bins, and you may wonder why dirt.  Let me begin by explaining.

A sensory bin is a container with material inside designed to appeal to your children's senses.  It may have a unique texture or be easy to manipulate.  It may have a new smell.  It may be messy or it may be tidy.  Sensory bins can be created in a huge variety of ways, but they all allow your children to discover, explore, and manipulate more of their world in a contained space through their senses.  It can also provide a platform for your child to interact with others and practice communicating.  An added bonus, if you have a child who struggles with sensory processing, is that sensory bins provide a sensory material that your child can use for extra sensory input or limited sensory input, depending on the child's particular needs.  It is instantly differentiated instruction for each individual child!

Sensory bins are often created around a theme or with a learning purpose in mind.  Sometimes we want our children to discover something particular.  Sometimes, though, it is important to let them choose the manipulatives.  A sensory bin can actually become an item that your child has complete control part of the day where the child dictates what will tools will be used and how.  This is where the Sensory Bin Challenge comes in!

Little Bins for Little Hands is hosting a monthly Sensory Bin Challenge, encouraging you to join us as we provide a bin with a predetermined "filler," and let your children take the lead in exploring, manipulating, and creating new frameworks to interpret their world.  

This month the filler is DIRT!  So just put a pile of dirt in a bucket, and put it in your kiddos' reach.  I put mine outside where they were sure to find it.  And find it, they did!

They touched it.

They brought shovels to it.

They brought leaves to it.

They climbed inside and stomped in it!  Check out those toes wrapping around the loose soil!

My biggest sensory-seeking kiddo even stood on his head in it!

They played in it for over an hour on four different days.

It has been a pile of dirt, a campfire, a launch pad, a mountain, and so many other things that I have lost track of them.  It has been a favorite outdoor station all week.

The kids have brought shovels, sticks, leaves, rocks, buckets, sand castle molds, rope, chairs, water, and other "tools" to the bucket.

Three of my kiddos tend to get dirt all over themselves every time we head outside.  Two of them manage to stay perfectly clean each time.  You may not believe it, but they all have played with the same bucket.  (Instantly differentiated activity, remember?!)

It has been one of the highlights of their back-yard time all week.  

Perhaps they love it because it is dirt.  But, perhaps they love it because it has been theirs. I haven't given it rules or boundaries or limits.  They know they need to keep each other safe, but beyond that I have let them do whatever they wanted with the bucket of dirt.

And it has been wonderful.

So, are you in?  Will you join us for a monthly sensory bin challenge?  I would love to see your bucket of dirt!  Or, if you use another sensory bin, I'd love to see it too!  You're welcome to share a link on our PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page or here as a comment!

PS.  Did you know that soil has a bacteria in it that triggers an anti-depressant response in you?  Playing in the dirt may literally make you happy!  Read more about it here.

I may share at any of these parties!


Blayne Burke said...

So fun!! They really got into it!! :)

Carla at Preschool Powol Packets said...

Yes, they did! I couldn't have designed a more engaging activity!

Victoria said...

I absolutely LOVE your description of what a sensory bin is, next time someone asks me I'm going to have to send them here! I love the head in the bin too-we had feet but I can totally see my daughter popping her head in soon!