Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sensory Material Collection

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Hi, my name is Jessie and I'm a sensory material hoarder! 
If you've followed this blog for even just a short time, you've come to see that we do a LOT of 
Sensory Bins and other Sensory Activities. I get a lot of questions about what materials I keep vs. what I throw away and the answer to that is I throw away almost NOTHING. That is the wonderful thing about sensory material, is that most of what you can use for sensory activities can be saved and used again...for years even! 

I have never been really great at organization so for the last few years my sensory "stuff" has been stuffed in random places using different containers and bags and I finally decided to organize it all after I got sick of searching for specific items, AND because my youngest was starting to get into it. I knew it had to be up high and out of reach, but I wanted the organization too. So I spent the afternoon doing just that. 

I have seen lots of amazing sensory and art supply organization such as Play at Home Mom's Setup, but I don't have that sort of space. I do however have a fairly large walk in pantry so I decided to clear a shelf for the sensory material. I have a LOT of sensory stuff, so while I would love to go purchase cute clear plastic containers for everything, I didn't want to spend that money right now. So I purchased 2 boxes of gallon sized zip-lock baggies and that was that. It's not the "cutest" way to organize everything, but it works for me!

Our Sensory Material Collection

Dry Rice and Noodles
Colored and Scented Rice and Noodles

Rice and Noodles are a HUGE part of our sensory play. 
I've bought 2 large bags of white rice and a few boxes of noodles over the last 4 years and those bags and boxes have lasted me the whole 4 years. I usually color and scent our rice and noodles for different projects. I've used a few methods for doing this which you can see HERE and HERE
One of my favorite Rice Sensory Bins that we've done was our...

and BIG NOODLES are great for toddler play!

Dry Beans

We use dry beans in lots of sensory bins! There are quite a few colored beans such as red pintos, green split peas, black beans, etc. These make great fillers for themed bins! I've had the above bags of beans for years! If I mix different beans for sensory bins, I don't separate the beans afterward. Because I save these beans for so long, I save the mixes to use another time and buy them again separately if the occasion arises. 
These never get thrown away! Some of our favorite Sensory Bins with dry beans are...

Some of our paper sensory materials include shredded paper (starting to shred specific colors for sensory bins), confetti, easter grass, and construction paper squares. 

One of my favorite paper sensory bins was our 

and Shredded Paper is A LOT of fun too!

Aquarium Gravel and Colored Sand
Aquarium gravel and sand are some of my favorite sensory materials and my kids favorite too! You can buy colored play sand at places such as Walmart (usually during the summer for sandboxes) and aquarium gravel can be found at any pet store in the fishtank accessories section. There is also aquarium sand too and we've bought this as well because like the gravel, aquarium sand comes in so many colors! 

I keep a big plastic bin of colored sand outside as a portable sand box 
(which we've also brought indoors for winter play!)
See some of our colored sand play HERE.

My favorite aquarium gravel Sensory Bin was our  

Colored and Scented Salt and Epsom Salt
I love using Epsom salt for sensory play! It is easy to color and add scents to and is a unique sensory experience. I buy a large carton of epsom salt at the dollar store (really cheap) and unless we use our colored and scented epsom salts in the bath, I save and and use them over and over! I also buy regular table salt which is cheap and can be colored and scented as well! 

See how we colored and scented our Epsom Salt 

and regular table salt has always been a hit too! 

Oh there's some fun stuff here!  

Waterbeads are an amazing and oh so unique sensory material! 
See some waterbead play HERE and HERE!
I store our grown waterbeads in a plastic zip-lock baggie for up to a month at a time. 

Even though these stay in our play area, I'm going to include fake foods in this category because we use them in lots sensory activities such as HERE and HERE, and HERE.

Gems, Beads, Marbles, etc
I buy mason jars at our local Goodwill for the small sensory materials like our floral gems, marbles, fake diamonds, glowing aquarium rocks, jingle bells, light bright lights, etc. I use these things in so many of our sensory bins and then pick them out after we're done. 

Natural and Storebought 
Nature Materials
This is probably my favorite sensory materials because I love nature sensory bins and small world setups. 
Some of this stuff was really collected outside such as pine cones, acorns, river rocks, etc. and some of the other things were purchased at Hobby Lobby or the floral section of Walmart such as fake mossy rocks, fake plants and flowers, small wood rounds, fake moss, woodchips, etc. 

Some of our natural materials have been used in our


I also have some natural materials such as dried rose petals, juniper berries, frankincense, spearmint, lilac, flavored teas, etc.  I usually buy these things at our local natural foods store and some are things we've collected from outside! I may use these things for making natural dyes,  textured playdough's or for pretend cooking play!

Essential Oils
Scent is a powerful addition to sensory play. I buy my essential oils at our local natural foods store, but you can buy them many places online. We add scent to many of our sensory materials such as: 

I add essential oils to some of our Sensory Bins such as this

I also add essential oils to many of the kid's baths for an extra element of fun! 

Sensory Bin Containers and 
Play Accessories
I use lots of different things for sensory bins and tubs such as take and toss tin pans like I used HERE, or your everyday tupperware containers such as I used HERE, or even a baby pool like I used HERE
I have a few plastic storage containers that I use for larger sensory bins such as THIS ONE. However, I always scour the dollar store or thrift stores for baskets or big bright colored bowls to use for sensory bins. 
I keep these in a cabinet in the kitchen along with our...

 most used sensory bin play accessories 

Some people have asked if I keep any of my sensory bins intact and save the whole thing in one bin. The answer is--sometimes. Because I often make more than one sensory bin for a specific holiday or if one holiday sensory bin had a lot of material, I may save the bins in their own container to take out year after year. Sometimes I add more to it, sometimes I use the materials for other projects, but I don't have the room to save holiday materials on our shelves so these bins such as the Valentines Sensory Bin and 
St. Patrick's Sensory Bin you see below get stored away in the garage till I need them next year. 

So there you have it!
 Our Sensory Material Collection!
What's YOUR favorite sensory material? 

To see ALL of our Sensory Bins, 
Click the Photo Below!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Zebra Shaving Cream Marbling Craft

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We did this fun Zebra Shaving Cream Marbling art project/craft as part of our Color of the Week Exploration. The Color of the Week was black and so we talked about animals with black skin or fur. With a zebra having black stripes (or are they white stripes? lol ) and no two zebra having the same stripe pattern, I thought this would be a fun project to sort of demonstrate that and play off the black and white stripe theme!

Shaving Cream Marbling produces amazing results and is simple and cheap to do!
Simply spread a thin amount of shaving cream onto a surface such as a cookie sheet or thick paper plate. Drop some food coloring onto the shaving cream and then use something such as a cotton swab or end of a paintbrush to swirl the food coloring around on the shaving cream. 

Because we were doing Zebra Patterned Marbling, I printed off a zebra pattern for L to look at while he mixed the black food coloring into the shaving cream.  His first instinct was make a swirly pattern so we talked about how the pattern goes up and down instead of in swirls. He studied the picture for a bit and then got the hang of it!

Now it was ready for some print action!

You simply lay a sheet of paper on top of the shaving cream and lightly press on the paper and the edges to make sure the print transfers. Then you take carefully take it off the shaving cream and set it aside for a few minutes so the food coloring can set. Then you can use something such as the back straight edge of a butter knife to gently scrape the shaving cream off of the paper and you'll be left with an awesome print!

Isn't that neat!? It wasn't EXACTLY striped like a zebra but L thought it was really neat. We did quite a few and we talked about how even if you lay the paper in the exact same spot as a previous time, the print will never look exactly the same, just as no two zebra's stripe patterns are the same! 

I then printed and cut out THIS zebra outline to trace on the back of one of our zebra marbled paper and cut out. L helped me with some of the cutting and pasting of the rest of the project. 
We LOVE how it turned out!

Little B had been watching the whole time and was itching to play in the shaving cream 
so I let him have his go at it after we were done.

Come check out our super fun Zebra Themed Fun Bath 
we did by clicking the picture below!

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