Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ocean Themed Water Sensory Bin

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Today was another scorcher. We stayed indoors and enjoyed the a/c and watched interesting documentaries in the morning. But the afternoon called for a fun water sensory bin! The kids were hot and were so excited when I brought out this bin. Soon they were cooled off and this wasn't even a hard bin to clean up after!

I wanted to try something new with this sensory water bin, so while I was outside walking Kaede, I plucked a few leafy plants. I ended up picking out 4 different kinds that looked similar enough to plants that grow in the ocean. These were supposed to be seaweed for our mini ocean. I used blue Play-Doh to weigh them down. I basically rolled a small ball and stuck the ends of the grass into it, then I submerged it into the water and stuck it to the bottom. In the future I won't use this method for weighing them down because the Play-Doh became really mushy quickly. Honestly my kids loved that and had so much fun playing with the yucky Play-Doh, but it didn't make great anchor material. 

I normally let the kids set up sensory bins with me, because they enjoy building their small worlds. But today their step-brothers were visiting and S is really young and I worried that he might get a hold of a rock and I didn't want any accidents. So I set this up in the bathroom. (S is also the reason why I didn't take this bin a step further and add salt to the water, which I normally do for our ocean water sensory bins.)

As you can see, the Play-Doh held up pretty well for a while. The plants remained standing straight up, but as soon as they were touched they slipped right out of the Play-Doh. Heavy beads or perhaps baked clay might serve better as plant anchors in the future. (Or maybe I'll just finally get around to buying some artificial plants...) Also please note that Play-Doh will make your water cloudy.

Once the plants were finished, I added in some river rocks and assorted shells. We use rocks and shells quite often, so they were a must for this water bin. It was also really interesting that half of the bin was under water and the other half was above water. This will be a great set-up for a future river themed bin. 

The water was already becoming cloudy from the Play-Doh, so I added three drops (by accident!) of neon blue food colouring. I only meant to add one drop... The water still looked light enough, but because it was cloudy it was a bit harder to see in. However, it really did look pretty fantastic.


I can just picture a manatee swimming around in this cloudy blue river water... Oh wait, this is for ocean creatures!

So I brought out the water bin and set it up on the coffee table with a much-needed towel underneath it. Most kids don't normally sit on coffee tables, but mine do. I allow this because it meant they were up off the floor where they were unlikely to get anyone else wet. And because if they wanted to, they could take things out of the bin and put it on the table, instead of losing it on the floor. Bean immediately started investigating the bin. She discovered the new Safari Ltd Coral Reef Toob that I added in. We are just in love with their Toobs and use them in so many of our sensory bins! I also gave her a tray so that she could take them out and look at them and then put them back in the bin. She did this several times so that she could look at each one closely and ask what they were named (most of the fish were new to her).

Munchkin really enjoyed playing with the plants. He felt each one and moved a few of them to different sides of the bin. He also spent a lot of time scooping up the rocks and shells and stacking them inside the bin and on the towel.

We named each type of ocean creature and then counted how many there were of that type (example: 3 starfish, 2 dolphins, 2 killer whales, 3 sharks, etc.). When we counted them, they would all be in the bin, so she would have to fish around to find them.

Munchkin kept showing me the different plants and then tossing them back in. Once he realized they were attached to Play-Doh, he was completely drawn in and enjoyed squishing the Play-Doh around in his hands.

Scooping water using shells is also a lot of fun!

The murky water was also a really cool element because normally our ocean bins are clear or simply lightly coloured. In those bins she has a really easy time finding certain creatures. This bin was a bit more difficult and she really enjoyed it! She liked that she had to fish around for them and if she couldn't find them, she would simply scoop up a handful of them and see if she got it.

Looking at the bin from the side was also really neat! What a scene!

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Please always supervise your children while playing and never leave them unattended.

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