Category Archives: Sensory Bin and Discovery…

Space Exploration Sensory Bin

I have been wanting to do a space unit study with the kids.  I had planned to do this at the start of the school year but I didn’t have a space bin ready, so I waited until I had some items accumulated.  I have several books ready, a telescope, some worksheets to make a lapbook, and have been collecting mini space stuff to make a space exploration sensory bin.

For at least the past six months, the kids have been missing a few toys they thought they had.  He, he, he, he…mom was sneaky!   If they got something space like to play with, and a few weeks would go by and they quit playing with it, and if mom finds it, then it went in the bin.

For storage purposes, I kept everything in a small clear bin that fit on a shelf in my storage room.  But when I was ready to assemble it, I put it into a large black bin to resemble being in outer space.

Yeah! I am finally ready to do our space study and build and use this bin.  Here is what I have been collecting.

The base layer has lots of black and clear beads of different sizes and shapes.  Then I added small dark blue, light blue pompoms and small black, blue, metallic, and other color marbles.  the next size was medium black pompoms, and medium silver white pompoms (these look awesome).    Then I layers in larger marbles that resembled planets.  Also a yellow golf ball that looks like a sun.  Some zoob balls that resemble meteors.  We had some glass beads, glass drop shaped spheres, and glass star shaped rocks too. 

The middle layer has all the planets in our galaxy, a moveable globe of earth, a large yellow golf ball for a sun, wooden stars, black and blue snap cubes that connect to build stuff or have holes that can be laced with string. I added black string and gold string too. Star shaped cookie cutters can be filled, used to trace, laced with string, or play with playdough, etc. There are also lots of glow in the dark stars, comets, and planets.

The top layer has lots of astronauts in white and orange.  A poseable astronaut with a removable helmet and backpack.  Lots of rockets, space ships, satellites, space centers, space capsules, land rovers, a wind up land rover, a lego moon explorer, a transformer space explorer, and another special space explorer that came with the poseable astronaut. 

This bin has so much to see and do.  I love it!  All the kids love it too.

This bin really captures the interest of the older kids too.  The first and third grader are busy playing and the fifth grader is drawing items in the tub!  Yahoo!

One of the activities we explored in the bin was the glow in the dark planets and stars.  The kids had so much fun with a flashlight, dark rooms, and holding glowing planets.

We will be learning lots about space related science stuff in the next few weeks.  I love this bin because it has so many hands on realistic science objects that we can use as props in our study in addition to just having lots of fun playing with them.  Check back soon for some space exploration adventures!

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Kids Coop
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers

Please share.

Garden Bugs Unit Study

What’s Bugging Your Garden?  

Sounds kinda funny don’t you think?

HSV Garden Challenge 

This is our last post for the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge 2011, and we chose to focus on Garden Bugs.  We have had so much fun with this whole garden challenge learning project this summer.

So after doing all these fun learning adventures with the garden, I thought I would put together a Garden Bug Unit Study to go along with our Garden Unit Study and share it with you too.

Garden Bug Unit Study

Books We Read
I searched our book shelves, and came up with these great stories to explain more about garden bugs:

Topsy Turvey Tracy  The Grimy Slimy Bug Safari

Bugs Life (read the book, and watched the movie).
Black Widow Spiders, Creepy Bugs, Flying Bugs, I Like Bugs, Strange And Amazing Insects, It’s Alive, Slimmy Slugs and so much more…….

We also watched a DK movie called Insects.

Lesson Plans, Unit Studies, and Lapbooks

Did you know that you might find over 40 different bugs in your garden at any given time?  Here is a great website to give you an introduction in identifying some of the bugs in your garden.

How to naturally reduce garden pests.,default,pg.html

What is pollination and how do bugs help polinate the plants in the garden?

Beneficial garden insects verses pest,default,pg.html

Non-poisonous verses poisonous bugs (we live where there are various kinds of black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, wasps, hornets, centipedes, milipedes, fire ants, and so on that cause painful injuries from injecting poinons into their victims).

Homeschool Share: Ant Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Bee Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Butterfly Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Dragonfly Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Praying Mantis Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Snail Unit Study and Lapbook

Bug Facts

Yucky Bug Facts and Games

Butterfly Facts

Adopt An Insect Unit Study

Spider Unit Study For Kinders

Garden Pest Unit For Older Students

great for coloring, matching, skills practice, lapbooking, notebooking, and more.

Pretty Bugs

Garden Printables

C is for Catepillar

Laddy Bug Math File Folder Game
I love this math game!!!  You can adjust it to be simple or more complicated based on your students skill level.

Montessori Garden Printables

Insect Coloring Pages



Activities & Crafts

Draw A Bug Game

Bug Bingo Game

Paint A Bug pages from the dollar store

Bottle Top Bugs craft

Love Bugs craft

Foam Bug Craft Kit from the dollar store

Bug On A Stick craft kit from the dollar store.

Lots of bug crafts

DLTK: Insect Crafts

Family Fun: Bug Crafts

Go on a garden bug hunt and search for bugs and worms.  Use hand shovels, butterfly nets, containers, tweezers, etc. to capture a few harmless bugs to observe them, and then release them back to the garden.  We found worms, beetles, pill bugs, flies, ladybugs, ants, spiders, bees, wasps, butterflies, etc.


fly in our butterfly net



pill bug

Activity Trays

Activity trays with plastic bugs for the kids to sort, count, play, and role play.

Sensory Bins

Sensory & discovery bin.  This can be a small bin, or a large bin.  I made both. 

I  used small river rocks, plastic bugs, various scoops, tongs, funnels, and containers for lots of creativity, some small flowers or plants, sticks (to use as trees or logs or just use as sticks for bugs to crawl on or hide under), use green felt or foam (for a green lawn or to make a mini garden scene), use a minnow net as a butterfly net, colored glass rocks to make a pond and larger rocks for bugs to crawl on or hide under.

Science Experiments

I can’t wait to share some of these fun bug science experiments with you.  But you will have to wait until a future story.  I’ll link it back here when it is finished. 

I found this great science experiment book at the dollar store, and it is totally creepy and lots of fun.

This is another great science book about insects and plants and we have done several experiments from this book too.

Here are some more ideas you can do without a science book:

Grow a bee garden. Plant sunflowers and various flowering plants to attract and observe the bees.

Grow a butterfly garden.  Plant different flowers that attract butterflies and observe their behavior and life cycle.

Raise various bugs from eggs or larve (you can buy these on line, or find them free in nature): lady bugs, butterflies, praying mantis, ants, etc.

Tend a worm bin or worm bed.  Buy it or make it yourself.  Put in a pound of worms for each bin you raise.  Add newspaper, soil, kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps,  and obeserve the worms life cycle and their ability to turn everything into compost.  Apply the compost to your garden and continue the process again and again.

Use a magnifiying glass to look at a live and / or plastic bug up close.  Have the children describe or draw the different body parts of the bug.  Have older children lable the body parts.

What do bugs eat?  Choose a bug and find out if it eats your garden plants, or if it eats other bugs. 

Make Rubber Bugs

We made rubber bugs with a bug machine “Creepy Crawler”.  I found this on clearance for $5 last year.  It is just like an easy bake oven, only it bakes rubber instead of cookies.  It comes with two baking trays, a tray pusher, and various colors of liquid rubber goop to make your designs.  The baking trays are molds that shape the bugs.  Ours contained a spider, fly,  worm, dragonfly, scorpion.

The boys had so much fun taking turns designing their own “creepy crawlers”.

The process was fool proof.  Add a few squirts of colored liquids into the mold/baking pan. 

You can make whatever designs you like.

Place in mini oven.  The mini oven sets its own timer automatically, and shuts off automatically when it is done.  It was very easy to work with.

Allow the bugs to cool.  Then remove from baking tray.  We filled almost two whole cookie sheets, and must have made 50 of these, but I could not find all the pictures of the different colored ones. 

Field Trips:

We visited several places to enhance our learning about gardens and insects. 

Roper Mountain Science Center Butterfly Garden
         and Living History Farm Garden

This is one of my favorite pictures of the day.  My 11 year old son used my camera to capture several lovely pictures from this trip.  Here is a snap shot of a bee pollinating a purple cone flower.  He is going to enter one of his many photos he took on this day in an upcoming photo contest. 

Farmers Market / Tailgate Market to see what farmers grow in their gardens to sell to the public.

Carl Sandburg Gardens

Insect Recipes

Want to try eating some bugs?

Other Garden Unit Stori

Be sure to read our other Garden Stories and Garden Unit Study

Be sure to check out other homeschool families stories about their garden challenge at Homeschool Village

This post will also be linked up with
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
The Play Academy

Please share.

Easter Sensory Bin

We built this Easter Sensory Bin for $12 with items found at the Mighty Dollar Store, Michaels, and a few items we already had on hand.  Many sensory bins I am able to build with little or no cost when we have items already on hand.

Here are some of the items that went into our Easter Sensory Bin:

Easter Erasers  Three sets each of six different erasers for counting, sorting, matching, patterns)
Chickens that lay candy eggs.
Mama and baby ducks
Plastic Easter eggs of various colors (for hiding objects in, color matching, sorting, counting)
Easter Tongs (for fine motor skills in grasping and transferring, eye hand coordination)
Easter grass (to help hide items in)
Colorful Jacks ( to count, sort, match, make patterns, spin like tops, and learn to play “Jacks” good for eye hand coordination)
Wooden Eggs
Wooden letter blocks (spelling, letter recognition, stacking, building, counting, color matching)
Egg tray (pictured further down, it was great for sorting, color matching, and counting)

Yellow lacing buttons
Yellow lace
Colored Clothes Pins (matching, counting, sorting, fine motor skills in clipping them on cards and ribbons)
Orange Ribbon (measuring, lacing)
Green Ribbon
Colored Pom Poms (counting, sorting, matching colors, making patterns)
Mini Dominoes (stacking, counting, building, matching)
Stacking Sorting Sizing Cups
Chop Stick Tongs
Spring cookie cutters
Easter Container (holds smaller objects for transferring, sorting, counting)
Stone Cross Necklace (to symbolize Jesus Christ’s death on the cross)
Rock (to symbolize the stone that was rolled away and his resurrection)

My three year old daughter built the sensory bin all by herself.  She is going through a phase of stubborn independence and doesn’t want help, most of the time.  So this is one of those times where it was great to let her show her independence and build her own sensory bin from the items.

She knew exactly to put her grass in first.  Though I did stop her at one bag.  This stuff just takes over.  We could have easily just used a half a bag, or even done with out it.  It actually gets in the way when the children go to use the tongs to discover hidden objects.  They got a handful of grass everytime with every scoop.  So this is something I may leave out next Easter.

She had so much fun creating this bin.  She took her time in placing each item just “so” as she went along.

As soon as she had it built, she was ready to dig in and play.  She immediately started with the bunny shaped tongs, colored eggs, and the colorful egg tray.  She knew just what she wanted to do with it.

She enjoyed touching and feeling everything.  She wanted each egg upside down so after picking it up with her tongs from the bin, she placed it into the tray with the tongs, picked it back up with her hands to turn it the “right” way, and set it back into position.


She enjoyed stacking these clothespins into the sorting cups and making rainbows with them.

She made pretty patterns with jacks and erasers.


She just had so much fun, and there were many more fun things she did with the sensory bin.  Here she is practicing picking up pom poms with her chop stick tongs, and placing them in the egg tray.  Sometimes she would drop one and have to chase it across the table to catch it with her tongs.

Little brother is two, and he had just as much fun with the sensory bin when he woke up from his nap.

He started off with unloading the bin.  First, he pulled out all the grass, and it was going everywhere until I offered him another bin to place it in.  He inspected everything in the sensory bin.  One of his favorites were the mini dominoes (he loves the larger dominoes to, but this time I found a mini set to include that he had not seen before), and the mini blocks.  He placed everything he could cram into the easter jar container and the lid did not want to go on it was so full.  But one thing he let me know for sure, he did not like Easter grass in his way.

A lacing activity with the large buttons quickly caught his eye.  He started lacing several buttons together and was very proud of himself.

He worked very carefully at putting the lace into the holes on the buttons.

Here he is saying “Look Mom, I did it!”

Building sensory activity bins with children is a lot of fun.   I love to set it out for them to play and find various items to experiment with.  It fosters the development of so many learning skills, including their imagination.

Children of various ages enjoy the bins too.  My older boys enjoy it almost as much as the younger children do.  I found them building with various items, having chicken and duck races, making nests for the eggs, spelling words with the letter blocks, spinning the jacks like tops, playing jacks, bouncing balls, playing dominoes, making patterns and designs, juggling eggs, and so on.

Have you tried using sensory bins with your children?  Be sure to leave us a comment and tell us about it.  Thank you.

This post will be l
inked up with
ABC and 123
We Play
Play Academy
No Time For Flash Cards
High Paws

Please share.