Monday, October 6, 2014

Sensory Bin Play: Ice Excavation & Googley-Eye Slime

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We love sensory play around here! We make sensory bins every week - everyone here, from 20 months through 13 years (plus the adults!) enjoy getting messy in the name of fun.  I'll warn you that pretty much every sensory bin we do is crazy messy and requires a bit of "letting it go." :)

(I put both my boys in Curious George shirts for the day but we played with baking soda and vinegar and they got so messy they had to change. Lasted an hour. Why do I never remember to get photos of those adorable matching-clothes-moments?!)


I used Ziploc Tupperware with the twist-lock lid to make giant ice cubes for each kid.  I find these freeze well and nothing spills in the freezer in the process.  The ice comes right out of the tubs with no mess. The first time made them we tried some Styrofoam cups as well and although they stayed upright in the freezer getting them out of the cups was a HUGE mess. Pieces of the peelings were all over the place.





Dean is really into rainbows so I thought it would be fun to make each ice cube a different color. :)  Each child picked a color to play with once they were frozen. (We've got a full house - I have 4 kids, my roommate has 2 and my PCA has 3.)

I filled each cup with water and put items of various materials, densities and weights in each.
-foam shapes and letters
-counting bears
-pattern blocks
-rubber counting vehicles
-feathers
-pipe cleaners
-beads of all colors, shapes, and sizes
-tissue paper squares
-letter tiles
-dice
-spare game pieces
-Legos
-Mardi Gras beaded necklaces

I added a drop of peppermint essential oil to each cup before placing in the freezer. You don't NEED it but it smelled so yummy! :)







Now comes the FUN part! After the cups have frozen run a bit of warm water over them to loosen the cube inside so it pops out in one piece. Put the giant ice cubes in a bin and give the kids some tools to "excavate" the treasures inside!

You can melt the cubes or chip away at them. Some kids took an hour on one cube and others (like my 5 year old) had the thing totally melted within 10-15 minutes. We used:

-Epsom salts (with a scooper to pour over and melt the ice)
-Squeeze and spray water bottles with hot water
-Dollar Store metal spoons to scrape and chip away
-paintbrushes (to brush on salt or warm water)
-spatulas, wooden spoons, funnels, and various little scoopers to play with the ice, water, beads, etc. as they melted the cubes








(This one was my favorite. The 2nd time we made icebergs my daughter did all different colors and I gave her part of a beaded necklace to use. I love the way it turned out - and she really had fun getting that necklace OUT of the ice cube.)
The older girls said they most enjoyed getting the feathers and pipe cleaners out because those were the most challenging. I had the younger ones (preschoolers) name the shapes they uncovered and Baby Bruce said the letters that were on the letter tiles he uncovered in his cubes (kinda like plastic Scrabble tiles).




(Spray bottles of hot water were a total hit!)

(I love when Bruce smiles for the camera - he says "cheese" and squints his eyes! Adorable!)










I love Fall and get really into themed crafts and activities (well, for all holidays really!!) so of course we had to make our sensory bins this week Autumn themed! This week was apple cider, Jack O Lantern pizza, and Fall trail mix (popcorn, pretzels, candy corn, peanut and regular m&m's, and buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Belly beans).

 Dried barley and pumpkin bread mix made the most amazing-smelling sensory bin!!

We made slime using Elmer's Glue (Thank You, Back to School Sales!), Borax, warm water, and Tropical Punch Kool-Aid.  It turned out a bit more pink than I was aiming for but I couldn't find the food coloring, LOL.

I gave the kiddos some colored googley eyes to make slime monsters.  They also used plastic dinosaurs, horses, butter knives, and cookie cutters.   





Dean chose his own pumpkin from the patch when we were at the Apple Orchard last week. He's named it and carries it around with him everywhere - that's why he has decorated it with the slime.


Sophia abandoned the monster theme in exchange for the unicorns and horses!