It’s almost the first day of school…do you know what you’re putting in your back to school sensory bin yet? Here’s a simple idea for your preschool & pre-k littles that’s easy & fun…plus there’s a freebie included at the end of this post!
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WHY PRIORITIZE SENSORY PLAY?
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates your little one’s senses through play. Anytime they’re playing with play dough or slime, making sand castles at the beach or digging in the mud, they’re engaging in sensory play.
Sensory play is a popular topic in the world of education right now, and for good reason! Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which leads to kids being able to complete more complex learning tasks.
Sensory play also supports language development, cognitive growth, fine & gross motor skills, problem solving, & positive social interactions. Oh, and it can also enhance memory!
There’s nothing more important than sensory play!
We can bring sensory play into academic activities, too. Our little ones learn best when they can touch and feel something, and sensory play allows them to have this hands-on experience while still practicing foundational academic skills.
We love to incorporate sensory bins into our weekly routine, and we have so much fun switching them up according to our theme.
Keep reading for our favorite back to school sensory bin to start the year off right!
BACK TO SCHOOL SENSORY BIN
Some of our favorite sensory bins can get quite messy (like monster noodles & cloud dough), so I like to start the year off with a super simple sensory bin that’s not quite so messy..colorful pom poms!
Adult supervision required. Please watch your little ones while they play with pom poms and make sure they never put them in their mouths.
Some of the pros of using pom poms in your back to school sensory bin include:
Price: Pom poms are relatively inexpensive. You can usually find a big bag of them at the dollar store or Target dollar spot.
Less Mess: Pom poms are easy to clean up (you won’t be vacuuming up rice for weeks!)
Not Too Crazy: Pom poms don’t feel too unusual. They aren’t cold or squishy like other sensory materials, which can be overwhelming for some little ones who are new to sensory play.
Easy to Clean: Pom poms can be easily washed in the washing machine (more on that later in this post!) so you don’t have to worry about germs.
Give your little ones the chance to freely explore the pom poms and watch how they decide to play with them…they usually come up with WAY better ideas than adults!
You can also encourage your preschooler to practice certain skills with their pom poms. Just a few ideas to start (but I’m sure you can come up with more!)
- Color sorting
- Forming letters
- Size sorting (if you use different-sized pom poms like these)
You can also use pom poms with water play OR freeze them! Yep, the possibilities with pom poms are endless, and that’s why I love them so much!
PRESCHOOL & PRE-K LETTER SORT
Since research tells us that sensory play helps our preschoolers learn best, I like to add academic activities to our bins to facilitate learning through play! For this back to school sensory bin, I added a FREE Letter Sort activity.
This letter sort includes colorful letter cards (both uppercase & lowercase) and sorting mats. The goal of this activity is to help our preschoolers get comfortable with the alphabet. The four different sorting mats included with this freebie are:
- In My Name vs. Not In My Name
- Uppercase vs. Lowercase
- Holes vs. No Holes
- Straight vs. Curvy vs. Both
You could also skip using the mats and just use the letter cards like my little guy! He chose a card, told me the name and sound of the letter, and then told me a word that began with that sound.
To take it a step further, you could have your little one put the letter cards in ABC order, or have them match the uppercase & lowercase letters together.
So many possibilities!
This activity (along with all of our freebies!) can be downloaded from the Free Activity Library. If you’re already a member of our email community, you can click HERE to head to the Free Activity Library, enter your password (it’s on your most current email from me), and download your copy!
If you’d like to join our email community & receive the password as my way of saying THANK YOU for joining, you can click HERE to subscribe. Once you enter your information, the password will be emailed to you within minutes.
HOW TO WASH POM POMS
I mentioned this earlier, but one of the BEST things about pom poms is that you can easily wash them in the washing machine!
So if your little one sneezes on them, coughs on them, or picks their nose and then touches them (yuck!), you’ll be able to easily wash them and kill those germs.
You can also wash them after using them with water play or freezing them, and they’ll be as good as new!
To wash your pom poms, follow these simple steps:
- Put your pom poms into a small mesh laundry bag & zip it up. Make sure there aren’t any big holes in the bag (you don’t want a million pom poms all over your washer!)
- Wash the laundry bag in your washing machine using a gentle cycle setting. (I like to throw it in the same load of laundry with my towels.)
- Dry the laundry bag in your dryer using a gentle cycle setting.
- Voila! Your pom poms are as good as new & ready for more sensory play!