Homelearning fun Learning fun!

Of messy play and sensory bins

September 1, 2013

We kick started our homelearning for the letter S with some Sensory Play. Why sensory play? Because children learn about their world by exploring and experimenting using their senses!

You heard that right: this mother doesn’t make her kids do tracers all the time.

I gleaned a couple of sensory play ideas from Simply Mommie and Playhood, two wonderful blogs written by mothers who share their very brilliant ideas for play and learning.

For our first sensory bin, I poured yellow mung dhal beans into an Ikea tray, threw a couple of farm animal toys in it, and let the kids run their own animal farm.

Sensory Bin: Farm Play!

Sensory Bin: Farm Play!

I soon realized, after leaving the sensory farm bin with all three of them for two minutes, that it was a big mistake! They weren’t interested in creating any farm. Oh no no, that’s not what the Kao kids do. They were more interested in raining dhal beans on one another, shoving beans into corners of the house, in one another’s pants and making a happy mess!

It's raining beans!

It’s raining beans!

And let's just scatter them everywhere, say the kids

And let’s just scatter them everywhere, say the kids


And so I learned. This farm activity is clearly not for the littlest one to participate in yet (at least meaningfully) – and I would have to create something for him on his own another time (and be prepared to do some major cleaning after). By the way, he was the one that started sprinkling beans on his brother’s hair.

So we gathered the beans, and I gave Ben and Becks half an hour each with the box to indulge them in some sensory pretend play, and that was more fruitful!

Making the kids pick up everything they've scattered!

Making the kids pick up everything they’ve scattered!

I then concluded their play with some activity sheets of the uses of farm animals and sight words (for four-year-old Ben) for the names of farm animals.

Activity sheets for farm animals

Activity sheets for farm animals (from a Preschool Activity Book for Science I got from Popular)

For our second sensory bin, I squirted some shaving cream in a tray and got the kids to swirl some food colours in for some colouring fun.

Sensory Bin: Ocean waves with shaving cream and food colours

Sensory Bin: Ocean waves with shaving cream and food colours

We used ice cream sticks and started with the colour blue. I threw in their sea creatures bath toys and they had some pretend play fun for a while.

Throw in some bath toys for some sensory play!

Throw in some bath toys for some sensory and pretend play!

Then I mixed in the colour red. Ben and Becks swirled and were thrilled that their ocean had turned a beautiful purple. They started smearing their palms with the cream and went wild with it. We talked about textures and I got them to describe the feeling of the cream on their hands. We learned the words “silky”, “smooth” and “soft” – all words beginning with the letter S.

Ooh, it's now silky, smooth purple waves, they say.

Ooh, it’s now silky, smooth and soft purple waves, they say

We stopped when Ben said, “I feel itchy.” Looks like I probably need to switch to whipping cream the next time we play.

Having fun feeling cream on their hands

Having fun feeling cream on their hands

P/S: Find out more about how to create sensory bins and the importance of sensory play for young children from this blog, here. Plenty more awesome ideas!

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  • Reply Adora @Gingerbreadmum September 2, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Lol at the three of the throwing beans at each other! I also recently fell in love with sensory bins, and have used oat, water and sand so far!

    • Reply MotherKao September 3, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Now I know what to do with my expired raw oats, thanks Adora!

  • Reply Susan September 2, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    That sensory bin with yellow mung dhal beans was so funny. I would so do this activity in the playground or garden to void cleaning up 🙂

    • Reply MotherKao September 3, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      Haha, void deck or playground sounds fantastic, Susan. Except that we might become free show for our neighbourhood! Haha…

  • Reply Angie @ Simply Mommie September 2, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Thanks for the mention! Such pretty pics of happy children!
    I usually play with the messy bins outside my home then sweep the area afterwards. 🙂 As for stuff that can be easily washed off like shaving foam/cream, I let them play with it in the bathroom. Messy play is good but we need our sanity too 🙂

    • Reply MotherKao September 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Bathroom is a great idea, Angie! But I don’t think there’s space enough to maneuver for the three of them!

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