When exploring sunflowers in preschool, we put together a cheerful sensory bin with some lemon scent. We added black beans as a contrast to the yellow scented rice and added terra cotta pots with scoops to fill. We also read books about sunflowers, created sunflower art, and planted real sunflowers to take home and nurture. We love to explore sunflowers in the spring, when we are planting, and in the fall, when we are harvesting.
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What we used in our sensory bin:
- small terra cotta pots
- rice that has been dyed yellow and scented with lemon
- dried black beans
- silk sunflowers
- empty sunflower seed packets
- your choice of small scoops
How to dye the rice:
- Place desired amount of rice into a gallon-size plastic storage bag.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and a few drops of yellow food coloring (or to your desired strength). We use Wilton’s icing gels.
- Close the bag and, with your fingers and thumbs, press around the outside of the bag, mixing the vinegar and the food coloring until all the rice has absorbed the color. Remove rice from the bag on paper towels in a single layer so that it completely dries.
How to add the lemon scent to the rice:
After the rice is dry, place it in a clean plastic storage bag or container with a lid. Squeeze a couple of drops of lemon essential oil and mix throughout the rice. (Note: we love to use essential oils in our classroom, but we make sure that they are safe and pure for our young children, and that is why we only use these oils.)
Setting it up:
Our sensory table is located near the entrance of our classroom. It’s a great way to invite the children into the room. It’s especially comforting for those who might be having a difficult time with transitioning into the classroom after saying goodbye to family.
Pouring is always a favorite. The scoops were used a lot, but the hands were just as involved. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times one of the 2 year olds brought me a fistful of rice and beans so I could see.
I have mentioned in other posts how 2 year olds love to pour. The farther the distance, the better. When we see them start to pour the materials onto the floor, we grab a box lid. Why say no when you can offer them an alternative? And, I admit, the sound of the rice falling a greater distance is pretty cool.
Not only did they pour the rice and beans into the box lid, but then they took fists of rice and released them into the box lid.
And then, they bent down and felt the rice and beans. Oh, the smiles on their faces!
This was out all week. And loved! We will pack it up on Friday and start a fresh sensory bin on Monday. Wondering how to store your sensory materials? I thought this looked pretty cool and want to give it a try!
Here are some other ways we’ve enjoyed our sensory table:
Sunflower Picture Books (click on photo for affiliate link):
Other Sunflower Activities:
Sunflower Card (Education.com)
Sunflower Paper Plate Craft (SheKnows)
Sunflower Suncatcher Craft (Fantastic Fun and Learning)
Sunflower Playdough (FSPDT)
Sunny Sunflower Marshmallow Pops (All Free Kids Crafts)
Coffee Filter Sunflowers (The Imagination Tree)