Water-based sensory bins are always a hit with my preschooler. I love that by adding a few fun sensory ingredients, my 4-year-old is motivated to extend her play in new and creative ways. For this particular bin, she enjoyed a fruity tea theme, focusing on fine motor development and using descriptive language to express what her senses were experiencing.
What you need:
- Learning Resources® Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set™
- Mini oranges from our Learning Resources Fruity Fun™ Counters Set
- Blood Orange tea bag (any fruit tea will work)
- A few slices of fresh orange
- Large bin or container (ours is from Dollar Tree)
- Selection of plastic cups and a plastic spoon
Let’s Get Set Up
Half fill your bin with water and put out all of your equipment and tools. I always like to let my little one put everything in the bin herself; hence I leave it all out at the start. I feel that this way, she has more ownership of her play and learning, and it avoids her play being guided by me or the predetermined setup.
After giving the water a good stir and splash, my daughter went straight for the tea bag and couldn’t wait to get it in the water. As soon as she put it in the water and gave it a big squeeze, she could see some color come out of the teabag, and she excitedly described it to me. She then experimented using the Handy Scoopers™, watching as the colored water slowly dripped through the holes in the scooper. As she did this, she also started to notice a lovely orange smell.
Next up, she decided to add the orange slices using the Gator Grabbers™; she thought it was pretty cool that they were even colored orange. She started by adding them to the bin, and we observed that they floated on the water. She then decided to mush the slices up with her fingers, watching as pieces of orange broke away into the water. As she squished the orange, the color of the water also began to turn more orange. All this squeezing and squishing was a great workout for her hands.
Let’s Make Tea
Once she had her delicious smelling mixture in her bin, she added the mini orange fruit counters and gave it all a good stir. Then she decided to serve up cups of orange tea in the small white cups I had provided. She used both the Twisty Dropper™ and the spoon, carefully filling the cups with the tea mixture and then adding a mini orange for ‘extra flavor.’
As she made the tea, we spoke about what the tea looked like, how it smelt, and how she thought it might taste. Talking about sensory bins is such a great way to help your child develop their scientific vocabulary without them even realizing it. You can use words like observe and predict to encourage their basic experimental skills. After she had made tea for her nearest and dearest, she chose a price and role-played each of her customers coming to collect their tea. It is always fun to see little imaginations at work like this.