Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin
This is my new favorite Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin! Starbucks blended with some hearts! This bin is geared towards younger children but I will also share how to adapt the bin to focus on different concepts and academic skills!
Valentine’s Day is the day of love, overpriced decorative cards, and delicious chocolate. I have so many great childhood memories of Valentine’s Day! I loved making my Valentine’s Day box with my grandma and signing my name on small valentine’s day cards for classmates.
As I began to practice as an OT, I have worked hard to be more culturally sensitive. A lot of my students come from beautiful backgrounds and celebrate a variety of meaningful holidays. When planning my monthly sensory bins, I try and keep that in mind! I love doing themes with the seasons but I also want to be mindful of my students and families who celebrate different traditions.
Edible Sensory Bin
This month I also wanted to make a bin that was edible! When I use the term edible, I am not using the bin to target pediatric feeding strategies, I am simply using it for students who might mouth/eat the bin materials. I want this population of students to still get the learning and sensory opportunities a sensory bin provides but I also want to make sure they are safe. Regardless if a bin is edible or not, I always recommend adult supervision. For more edible sensory fillers, check out this blog on the Simply Special Ed Libary!
Because of COVID and guidelines on keeping materials individualized, I have also made this bin smaller so each student can have their own sensory materials at their desk. Smaller bins are also easier to replace and ‘refresh’ items.
Pros of Edible Bins:
- Safe and non-toxic materials
- Decreased choking hazard
Cons of Edible Bins:
- You will have to replace the materials more frequently
- They can be more individualized depending on the students who you are using them with
- I try and keep my edible bins on a 1:1 scale. If the fillers and items in the bin get mouthed/chewed I don’t want other students nibbling on them too.
- For example, my daughter was licking bits of the cereal and throwing it back in the bin.
- Parent contact about possible food allergies
- Even if you think a student will not put the filler in their mouth, I always give my families a heads up. Having a daughter with severe food allergies, it is terrifying to see a food reaction and the possibility of utilizing an EpiPen.
This bin cost a total of $7 dollars, I could have probably found cheaper cereal but having a young child and a long to do list its easier to do a one stop shop!
- Measuring spoons or cups
- Two Starbucks cups
- I was hoping for the smaller sample cups but my local Starbucks didn’t have any plain ones available
- I wanted hearts to incorporate a subtle Valentine’s Day theme. I found these at Target for $1.13! They were $14 on amazon.
Concepts addressed in the Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin:
- Pouring is actually quite complex when looking at the anatomy of the hand, wrist, and forearm.
- Make a pouring motion and take notice of your forearm slowly rotating, your wrist stabilized and supported, and your fingers grasping the object. It is a great skill for young children to practice!
- Pincer grasp
- Hand strength
- Visual perception
- Play skills/task initiation
- Following simple step directions
- put in, take out
How to Adapt and Increase the Challenge
- Before COVID and new regulations/guidelines, I would have my older students help me make my sensory bins for my younger students.
- I would write out a set of instructions and add pictures to increase my student’s overall independence and limit the number of adult verbal prompts.
- It was a job that had a final product and had a purpose!
- Draw lines on the inside of the cup and work on precision and following simple step directions
- Use different tools that have more resistance. I really like these on Amazon!
- Use different color marshmallows to add an additional layer to following directions
- I would like two red marshmallows and a blue one in my order, please!
- Adding coffee cup lids to practice putting on and taking off
- Smaller cups
- It takes increased precision and coordination to pour into a smaller surface area
- little Dixie cups, tea set cups, tiny mugs
Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin Different Fillers: Edible and Non-Edible Options
- Coco puffs
- Coffee beans
- Dried oats
- Brown lentils
- Chickpeas or rice died brown
- Black beans
- Cotton balls
- Pom poms
- Plastic heart manipulatives
- Different-sized cups or little plastic mugs
The Mess is Always Worth it
Even though sensory bins and overall sensory strategies look a lot different than previous years, I still get so much enjoyment creating them for my students and my daughter. The anticipation I feel moments before presenting it and opening the lid sort of feels like Christmas morning. I love when my students, and daughter, are excited to learn and explore. The natural eagerness and curiosity children have should always be cultivated. Seeing my daughter smile and laugh as she poured and scoped the cereal made the clean up worth it…Even though I will probably be stepping on tiny pieces of chocolate cereal all week.