Inside: This toddler Valentine’s Day sensory bin is filled with fine motor fun. The dyed rice is fun to scoop and pour, especially with the cute paper mâché heart boxes!
Toddlers love to scoop and pour rice. In fact, if I were to pick a favorite sensory bin, it would be anything that has rice in it.
So when I found the cutest paper mâché heart boxes, I knew exactly how I’d use them.
In our toddler Valentine’s Day sensory bin.
I added some confetti, too, for some extra texture.
I knew it would be a hit, and I was right!
How to Put Together an Easy Toddler Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin
Whenever I gather materials for a sensory bin, I think of different colors, textures, and even sounds.
If you’ve heard the sound of dried rice landing on a surface, you recall how it mimics rain.
The sound draws our toddlers into the activity, along with the feeling of the small pieces sifting in between their fingers.
I always provide some sort of tool so that the materials can be scooped and transferred.
Fine motor at its best!
Putting this Toddler Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin Together
The first thing I did was dye the rice.
If you’ve never dyed rice, you’ll be happy to know it’s really easy.
How to Dye Rice
Pour the rice into a gallon sized storage bag that can be sealed.
Then, you can use a small amount of rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or vinegar. I’ve used all 3 and they all work great, except the vinegar tends to take longer to dry.
For this particular activity, I used hand sanitizer because that’s what was most convenient at the time.
I simply poured a small amount into the bag with the rice. (You really don’t need much – just enough to move the color around.)
Then, add the food coloring.
I almost always use Wilton’s icing gels because they are so vibrant. I use them to color our playdough, too.
I take a clean toothpick and insert it into the gel, remove a bit, and then add it to the rice.
Once I have the desired amount, I seal the bag and knead the rice around, watching it absorb the colors.
If you want more than one color, as I did in this activity, repeat the process for each color.
When the rice is thoroughly colored, open bag and pour into a tray that is lined with paper towels. (I like to use a cookie sheet.)
Let dry thoroughly and then assemble the sensory bin!
Once everything is in the sensory bin, the children will know what to do. That’s what I love about these types of activities.
(And yes, if you look at the photo above you do see one of the hearts painted pink. I was experimenting how paint would work on the paper mâché. I decided to leave them as is, as it would take at least 2 coats. But maybe next year!)
It was great fun to scoop the rice until it went to the top of the heart box. The children would then place the lid on top.
For about a second.
Before lifting the lid and pouring the contents out.
All that scooping, pouring, placing the lid on and off …. it’s all good stuff to strengthen those hands and fingers, getting them ready for future writing.
More activities to go with the toddler Valentine’s theme: