"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, March 7, 2014

make-your-own St. Patrick's Day sensory bin

I've always loved St. Patrick's Day....maybe because I was one of the few in my elementary school classes that could claim ownership of the day when we found green tempera leprechaun footprints on our desks....maybe because it's such a fun and fanciful, quick and easy, stress-free holiday...maybe because my half-Irish blood runs so deep that I can't NOT love it....

Or maybe it's because St. Patrick's Day, which falls just barely on the Lamb side of this bipolar month, marks the gateway into spring. I know that that's truer this year....the year of the bitterly cold, polar-vortexed, TEN SNOW DAYS, endless winter...than ever before.

And so yesterday....the 40-degree, first back-to-school day of the week, I decided it was time to start celebrating. Time to hang up the welcome banner to let St. Patrick's Day, and Spring, know that it's time. We're ready for you. Come on in.

Really. Seriously.

Come in, take off your shoes and get comfy. Stay for a nice loooooooonnngg while. 

First order of business in celebrating a new season in this house: A New Sensory Bin

I just love this St. Patrick's Day sensory bin.

We started by dying rice...TEN POUNDS of rice. 
In other words, my 1-month old baby nephew's weight in rice.
[That's a lot of rice. You'll want a nice big bin.]

We divided the rice evenly into 6 ziplock bags, so we could make rice in every color of the rainbow. We added a little squirt of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring to color the rice. Have the kids squish and shake the bag around until the rice is evenly-colored. Leave the bags open overnight to let the rice dry out.

Assemble the rest of the bin:
Wagon wheel pasta, which we had colored yellow, as the leprechaun's gold coins.
(Then Max found our "real" gold coins when we got out our St. Patrick's Day decorations bin....so we added those, too.)
Rainbow erasers, found in the party section at Target

So pretty.

Molly was hesitant to mix the colors at first. 

I don't blame her. She probably felt like I did the first time I saw Evan mixing his Lego Ninjago pieces with his Lego Police pieces. You know....heart racing, palms sweating, shortness of breath...
I'm sure that's perfectly normal.

She preferred instead to scoop one color at a time...

Then I showed her how to take her finger and mix the colors....just a bit...

Baby steps to allowing chaos in play....she's getting there.
We both are.

Her first self-apointed task: Sorting.
Rainbows in here...

Gold coins in here...

Wagon wheels in here...

Everything in it's place.

There was a lot of talking during the 40 minutes that we played with the bin this morning. We talked a lot about colors (Molly knew them all...and was so proud to repeat them over and over), a lot about "shiny," a lot about "pour/dump/scoop," and a lot about "rainbows hiding" under the rice. This was the first time since Max was little that I had the chance to see how sensory play is such a language-rich play experience for toddlers. 

It's so amazing to see how the same activity can change so much from one month to another when the players are so little.


Beyond sorting and talking, there was a little bit of pouring...a little bit of mixing....

...and then we picked Max up from school.
Give this kid a sensory bin and about half a second?

Mission: Chaos in the Sensory Bin...

Molly has such a task-oriented, methodical, fine-motor style to her sensory play.
Max tends to dive in, with an open mind and his entire body.

They work well together, though...Max encouraged Molly to do more pouring, scooping, and digging.
And Molly yelled "Uh-oh, Max!" every time a few pieces of rice fell out of the bin.

A girl after my own Type-A self.
Poor thing.

Lesson Learned:
The Spring Welcome Banner is officially waving.
I'm so over you, Winter.

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