Do you have a young builder in your family? I have such a great activity today for your little one. It is a sensory, exploratory, building, STEM inspired busy box for kids. Fantastic for preschool and kindergarten, this Construction STEM Sensory Bin is a wonderful way to encourage curiosity, exploration, critical thinking skills and more, plus it pairs beautifully with one of our favourite book series!
Construction Sensory Bin for Little STEMists
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What are Sensory Bins?
A sensory bin is a hands on, predominately tactile sensory play experience for kids in a container or bin. Although predominately exploring the sense of touch, other senses can be engaged as well.
Sensory bins are a great way to encourage sensory play in young children. Sensory play encourages children to explore and use their senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Depending on the sensory play activity, it may use one, two or all of these senses.
Sensory Bins are bins, usually large plastic containers with a lid, that you fill with a variety of items and objects to promote sensory play. The bins help contain some of the mess and also provide the opportunity to put a lid on the bin. This allows you to keep the bin clean and ready for play anytime, and also allows the bin to be easily transported.
We love creating sensory bins around a theme. Especially when we can tie them into a great book. Bringing in a literacy component helps encourage imaginative play, while also making reading less intimidating for children.
And of course, in our world, if we can bring in STEM components into our sensory play, that makes it even better!
This Construction Sensory Bin includes literacy and STEM concepts, plus encourages use of the touch, smell, sight and hearing senses.
Why Sensory Bins and Sensory Play?
The importance of sensory play for all children is something that been researched extensively in recent years. The benefits are significant and help build a strong foundation for your child now and throughout their lives.
Research is showing many benefits for sensory play including:
Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.
Build Brain Pathways
Research shows that sensory play builds strong, positive pathways and nerve connections in the brain. This improves a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks by providing them with the opportunity to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Supports Skill Development
Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction. Especially when you pair it with a great book and STEM skills, like we have done with this sensory bin.
Children, and even adults, learn best, form the strongest memories, and retain the most information when they engage their senses. When a child engages in sensory play it also aids in developing and enhancing memory.
Calming and Emotional Regulation
If you have a child that is struggling with anxiety, frustration, or other big emotions, sensory play is a great tool for helping to calm them. Think about your own habits, when you are stressed, do you like to eat, exercise, use essential oils, or cuddle with a beloved pet? Engaging the senses is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child.
Better Understanding of the Senses
Finally, and this one is pretty obvious, but as children use their senses they build their vocabulary and understanding of their senses and how they can interact with the world. They will learn what is too loud for them, if they like the texture of certain things, how to check if something is hot or cold, and how to use their senses to gain a better understanding of the environment around them.
Free Senses Printable
You can reinforce learning of the senses with our free printable 5 Senses activity pack that is available to members of the STEAM Powered Family mailing list. Join here to unlock your free printable.
Pete The Cat Sensory Play
Have you introduced your child to Pete the Cat? When my son was younger this was his favourite book series. If you haven’t read Pete the Cat, definitely check it out. The original books are fantastic, plus they have many books that partner beautifully with activities.
Like Pete the Cat Construction Destruction and this Construction Sensory Bin.
Bin or Large Container
Sand (we used blue!), or Rice works too
Construction vehicle toys
Straws (cut them to provide a few lengths, short ones can be used as connectors!)
Sensory tray (we like to use plastic containers with a lid)
Pete the Cat Construction Deconstruction by James Dean (you can get it at your library, or see below for a free reading of the book on YouTube)
Add any other items you child might want to include, like little children figurines, Lego, etc.
Read the book, Pete the Cat Construction Destruction by James Dean. Talk about the story and especially about building and construction.
Pour a thin layer of sand at the bottom layer of the sensory tray. Spread the sand out evenly.
Add the colorful stones, construction toys, popsicle sticks, pom poms, and straws.
A great addition is to set up a tablet and let the child play while watching a reading of the book on YouTube. The auditory and visual input of the video reading helps reinforce literacy concepts while the child is relaxed and engaging in sensory play.
Encourage your child to build their own playgrounds and get creative in their construction and deconstruction of their dream big playground! Just like Pete the Cat did.
While playing and using their senses, they will also be learning important concepts around engineering and physics as they build, explore, create, learn and grow!
Have fun playing in this multi-discipline, multi-sensory activity.