Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bone Yard Sensory Bin

Halloween is nearly here. October seems to have flown right by! The leaves are changing colour (finally, took forever in my area), the nights are freezing, the days are cold, it's always windy and the sun peeks in to say hello but no one can feel it's warmth... Ah. October in New England. And it will only get colder. Warm cider and cocoa are staples around here. We have enjoyed so many batches of pumpkin cookies and muffins that I don't know if I can ever go back to regular plain chocolate chip. And as the seasons progressively change, one thing remains the same... New England never fails to amaze me. 

This morning I found frost on the ground while I was walking our dog Kaede. So I came inside and made a warm breakfast for the kids, complete with spiced cider (their favourite!). Then, later in the day while I was typing this up, my Dad sent me this picture. He lives about 8 hours away in Maine on the border of Canada. It's snowing!! 

Yup. Too soon. Now I'll appreciate the frost not being snow in the morning. I don't want it to snow on Halloween (that happens surprisingly often)!

With Halloween right around the corner, we are squeezing in a few more activities to enjoy before the big day!! Today's sensory bin is a not-so-scary bone yard! Ok, graveyards, bones and all that spooky stuff can sometimes be scary for kids. To be fair, my daughter at least really enjoys the spooky side of Halloween. Seriously, throw a vampire or a werewolf or a ghost at her, and she giggles and gets excited (future Supernatural fan girl? I think so). And yet, every year, without fail, it's the man who dresses up as Santa and passes out wrapped candy (tradition of his that he has been doing as long as I can remember) that freaks her out. She'll take a witch over Santa any day. My son isn't really phased by the scary stuff either. He does really enjoy the animal costumes, but barely pays attention to the devils or Scary Movie guys. 

I created a graveyard themed sensory bin for the kids to enjoy. We have tons of graveyards in our area, so the kids are used to seeing them. Bean likes the more elaborate headstones (her favourite is a golden stag), but we haven't talked about what graveyards are for. I don't think they would quite understand.. According to Bean, graveyards are where ghosts live. She's got that part right at least. 

Well I didn't have ghosts for this sensory bin. But I did have a big bucket of coffee grinds that look just like grave dirt. 

Not that I really know what grave dirt looks like.. But coffee grinds look just like real dirt! Which makes it a perfect ingredient for sensory bins. They feel great and smell great as well! I honestly keep my distance, since the smell bothers my allergies, but my kids love it and we use coffee grinds for all of our dirt-related sensory bins. We have been reusing the same grinds for several months (they were originally fresh and we never actually used them to drink coffee).

Once the grinds were poured in, the kids added in their newly painted coffins (bought at Michael's arts and crafts store) and a plastic gravestone.

They spent the first few minutes burying the coffins.

Then Munchkin added in his Little People tracker to dig holes faster.

The coffins were buried and unburied several times.

Bean has just requested for me to grab her cute little vampire toy (because vampires sleep in coffins), when she opened the coffin and discovered what I had hidden inside! Q-tips, cut into several different lengths. We typically use Q-tips for bone-related activities. She completely forgot about the vampire and proceeded to add the bones to the bone yard.

She carefully hid some and others she left peeking through the grave dirt.

Meanwhile Munchkin decided to fill up the tracker and gravestone.

But then he noticed that Bean was playing with Q-tips in her coffin, so he opened his and found that his was filled with Q-tip bones as well!

He placed each of his bones in the grave dirt but did not bother to bury all of them.

He used the coffins and the gravestone for scooping and pouring and drove the tracker around the small graveyard depositing dirt in graves or picking up dirt to fill up a coffin. Here he had just unloaded the grave dirt from the tracker into the coffin and is pouring it back into the tracker.

The bones were also moved around a lot. While Munchkin enjoyed the sensory side of the bin, Bean counted the bones with me, we compared the different sizes of the bones and organized them into piles. We had a Halloween book about skeletons that I read while they played and at one point I put it next to the bin so Bean could place the Q-tip bones on one of the skeleton pictures so she could see what kinds of bones they might be (leg, rib, arm, etc.).

One of our mini white pumpkins was added in, because they always somehow end up in our Halloween sensory bins. :)

Bean realized she could use the cut up Q-tip bones to spell out words and she started to spell out her name. Munchkin ended up driving over it before she could finish, so she lost interest. They could also have been used to practice creating letters or numbers, but we didn't get to that.

Because they just had so much fun creating all kinds of different scenes! I try not to bother them when they are playing unless they specifically ask me to do something. Bean directed most of the goings-on in the bin at this point and set up the coffins to line up along the wall. Munchkin filled the tracker up with soil and Bean had the bones ready to be delivered behind the tracker.

And after many failed attempts, they eventually managed to work together and fill the coffins back up with bones. But in the meantime - lots of mayhem and disaster as the coffins kept falling over.

This bin was so fun to play in! It was much more fun than I anticipated, which always makes me happy. I always try to change things up to keep sensory bins fun and exciting. 

Please always stay within arms reach of your child(ren) when they are playing. Some materials in sensory bins may not be suitable for every child. Please use your own judgement when creating sensory bins for your child(ren). 

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