For part of our preschool’s Island Aloha summer camp, I came up with an incredibly easy ocean sensory bin. I was inspired by how much the preschool campers had enjoyed our “walk the plank” activity during pirate week. The amount of fun the children had with this activity just goes to show that sensory play does not have to be difficult or complicated! I also feel the need to point out that this appealed to kids of all ages — the 4 and 5-year old campers, the 6 and 8-year old camp assistants, and the 30-something teachers!
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Engineer and I used clear and blue water beads to act as the water for our ocean sensory bin. We chose both clear and blue water beads simply because we didn’t have enough blue! Once the beads were hydrated, they were poured into a long plastic bin with a top.
Once we got to the preschool, Engineer helped me place a variety of small animals in with the water beads. He chose whales, sharks, baby ocean animals, as well as variety of other sea animals. It was an incredibly crowded ocean, but the children didn’t seem to mind one bit. Engineer and I had a nice discussion about the characteristics of sharks versus whales as he added the animals. It’s always nice to listen to his questions and see how much he’s learned through our adventures.
The first day of camp, I gave the kiddos basic instructions regarding the ocean sensory bin — please leave the water beads un-squished until the last day of camp, try to keep everything in the bin, and have fun with the ocean animals! Throughout the entire week of camp, the children were engaged with this bin! They told stories using the animals, sorted the animals, ran their hands through the water beads, and just enjoyed playing together.
On the last day of camp, we had a Splash Day. The children had been enjoying the ocean sensory bin so much that we decided to bring it outside with us. It’s always nice to have some simple play bins for the kids to use when they want a break from sprinklers and water balloons. They ended up squishing the beads (after asking me, which was nice), climbing into the beads, and stomping them with their feet! This ended up being a full-body sensory experience for the kiddos!