A DIY Ocean to Play In!

After weeks of oppressive heat, the rain is here. Great for our pitiful looking flowers. Bad for dispensing of a certain 3-year-old’s energy. It’s time to distract and engage him. At least I can wear out that active little brain!

So, we are going to make a very cool ocean sensory bin. This “sensory bin” idea is a completely new one to me. But I’ve discovered this activity has quite a following in the mommy blogosphere and now I know why!

  1. They are easy to put together.
  2. Inexpensive fun.
  3. Your munchkins will learn by using their hands and have an opportunity to work with different textures.
  4. It holds their attention for more than an hour (which is really a win for everybody)

If it’s sunny at your house, feel free to do this outside. As for us, I’m setting this up inside of our master bedroom tub. It’s large enough to accomodate my little man and a plastic storage bin.

The side of the bath is lined with objects that he’ll use to make his own ocean!

You can really customize this to your child’s needs. In this case, my little monkey hates slimy textures like the inside of the pumpkin or anything sticky.

So, I bought some salad cut kelp (at Whole Foods) to help engage his interest so that he can learn to work with that slimy texture and not be quite so grossed out!

And he loved it.

Then we added real sea shells.

And small ocean animal beads.

A note about the itty bitties. Because we have a baby in the house, C no longer gets a lot of time with tiny objects. So this is a great time for fine motor skill development. We bring out the small objects just for this. And as soon as we are done, they are put out of reach.

The pirates really seem to trigger his imagination.

I also supply a bunch of tools like empty OJ bottles, a watering can, etc for him to pour water in and out of and a net for scooping up treasure. And then I back off. I let Crowley play with this exactly the way he wants to.

Sometimes, when it’s all a soupy mess, we play I Spy which has been fun, but this is truly an excercise in independent play. And believe me, this keeps him entertained for about an hour and a half. That said, given there is water involved, I am right next to him… just not directing how he plays.

We have a few rules like all the contents of the bin STAY in the bin. And when we are finished, the last thing we do is clean up by sorting the toys which helps him with early math skills.

This is how we did it, but there are so many other ways to do this and other subjects that are great for sensory bins.

Have fun!


No Responses to “A DIY Ocean to Play In!”

  1. Linda

    Hey Anna! I’m enjoying your blog. It brings back memories! Another idea for you to try that my kids loved…a bean tub. I would spread a cloth on the floor and put a large container of mixed dried beans in the center. Throw in cups, spoons, small tongs, odd shaped containers and let them play. They will measure, sort, pour and spoon for hours. When the baby wakes from his nap…toss everything into the tub and put the lid on until next time. The cloth will catch spilled beans. It entertained for hours and they never knew they were working on fine motor skills and early math!