Inside: Looking for a quick way to put together a toddler apple sensory bin? The secret is always having a batch of dyed rice available, and then add pretend apples and fine motor tools!
Sometimes we have this great idea for the classroom, but end up exhausting ourselves as we rush around trying to gather materials.
You have this idea in your head. You might have thought about it while drinking coffee from your to-go cup as you headed to work. You might have thought about it days before, but forgot to gather everything together beforehand. Or maybe the idea you had in your head simply wasn’t coming together as you had planned.
When this happens, you end up feeling defeated before you’ve even opened your classroom door to greet your toddlers and preschoolers.
After having this happen to me countless times, I decided I needed a plan. And I was going to start this plan with a toddler apple sensory bin that I just knew our children would love.
And it started with dyed rice.
Here’s a Quick Way to Put Together a Toddler Apple Sensory Bin
Toddlers and preschoolers love to scoop and pour, so I first think about what the base of our sensory bin will be. I love using rice because we can easily color it to match the theme or season, and we can save it for another use. Since our preschool consists of 4 different classrooms, we share what we use. We have a dedicated shelf in our storage room that contains gallon-size Zip-Lock bags that are filled with different colors of rice. It really makes it easy to plan ahead when the rice is already dyed and ready to go.
But How to Dye Rice?
- Grab a gallon sized plastic baggie that can be sealed.
- Pour about a cup of rice inside the bag.
- Add about a teaspoon of white vinegar.
- Add as much coloring as desired. (I love using Wilton icing color!)
- Seal the bag and shake until the rice is coated well.
- Open the bag and dump the rice onto a paper towel, spreading it out so it’s a very thin layer.
- Allow to dry thoroughly.
If you want to have different colors of rice, do the above procedure for each color and then, when dry, mix the colors.
Once you have your main ingredient ready to go, it’s easy to gather whatever other items you want to add.
For this fall sensory bin, I added:
- Padded Felt Apples (The ones I used are no longer available, but I do love these ones!)
- Red and green plastic bins
- Scoops and tweezers
When I arrived that morning, all I had to do was dump the dyed rice into the sensory bin and add the other materials.
No racing around at the last minute.
I had time to put a few other activities together before greeting the children.
That’s exactly how I like my mornings to start!
How This Toddler Apple Sensory Bin is Used
Toddlers will really be into the scooping and pouring. This is always one of their favorite things to do, and it’s a great way to develop those fine motor muscles.
Related: Fine Motor Squeezing Activities
At first they will want to use their hands. The feeling of the rice slipping between their fingers is a great sensory experience.
We talked about how the rice falling into the container sounded like rain.
As their hands and fingers strengthen, they will start wanting to use the tools that are provided. In this case, it was small scoops. We also provided tweezers for our preschoolers.
Preschoolers will start noticing the other materials in the bin.
I wanted to add some color sorting, so I found some colored plastic containers at the dollar store that were the same color as the felt apples.
How to Alter this Activity for Other Themes and Seasons
Once we pack up this sensory bin, the rice can be used for other themes and seasons. For example, this red and green rice can be used again at Christmas along with some big jingle bells and tongs. Brown rice can be used in a gardening sensory bin and also a forest sensory bin. Yellow rice can be used in a sunflower sensory bin as well as a summer weather sensory bin. See what I’m getting at? Make it easy on yourself!
Related: 15 Quiet Time Activities
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