Sensory bins have gained immense popularity in recent years for their ability to engage children in a world of tactile exploration. The market is flooded with a variety of sensory bin options, each catering to different age groups and developmental stages. For parents, introducing sensory bins can be an exciting yet challenging experience, as choosing the right time and type of sensory bin is crucial for ensuring a positive and enriching playtime for their little ones. If you are wondering when to start sensory bins, keep reading as we address some common concerns and provide tips for an enjoyable experience.
One-year-olds are at a stage where their curiosity is soaring, and they are eager to explore the world around them. This age is an ideal time to introduce basic sensory bins, but they will require plenty of supervision. More so depending on how inclined your little one is to eat or put items in their mouth. We recommend using taste-safe materials like cereal and yogurt or pudding, or soft fabric, allowing them to engage in simple tactile experiences. Focus on items that stimulate their senses. Such as items with different textures or that make sounds. Including larger, easy-to-grasp objects that encourage the use of hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.
Preschoolers are ready for more complex sensory play. Introduce bins with a variety of textures, colors, and materials to stimulate their senses. Say rice, water, shaving cream, or even elements from nature. You might even incorporate themes that align with their interests, such as animals or their favorite characters – take a look at our mermaid or dinosaur-themed sensory kits! At this stage, sensory bins can also be used as educational tools. Promoting learning through hands-on experiences will better prepare them for school. Consider activities that incorporate counting, identification, or literacy.
By the time children approach kindergarten, their fine motor skills and cognitive abilities are developing rapidly. Sensory bins can play a crucial role in refining these skills and helping them prepare to learn physical, self-sufficient tasks. Such as getting dressed or tying their shoes. Consider introducing bins that involve more intricate tasks, such as sorting, pouring, or measuring. Meanwhile, themed sensory bins related to science, math, or literacy can also be educational and entertaining. This age group will also benefit from the social aspect of sensory play, promoting teamwork and cooperation.
For Children with Autism
For children on the autism spectrum, sensory bins can be a valuable tool for self-regulation and sensory processing. It’s essential to tailor sensory bins to the individual needs and sensitivities of the child. Start with simple bins containing materials with varying textures and temperatures. Gradually introduce kits with more specific themes or tasks based on the child’s interests or skills; existing or that need to be improved. Always be attentive to any signs of discomfort or overstimulation, and modify the sensory play accordingly. Another great way to find the perfect bin is collaborating with your child’s behavior, speech-language, physical or occupational therapists.
Sensory bins offer a wealth of benefits for children of all ages, but the key lies in introducing them to the right bin for their developmental stage. By understanding the needs and interests of your child, and when to start sensory bins, you can create a positive and enriching play experience. As always, remember to supervise younger children closely, adapt the complexity of the bins to suit their abilities, and always prioritize safety.