This is such an easy toy/activity to create and continues to be a perennial favorite at our house. Similar to the "water/sand/activity tables" that you find at many preschools, this sensory box is basically a long container with low sides filled with stuff. You can dump in anything from rice to cotton balls to do this inexpensively.
I made a quick trip to the craft store to create our box and ended up filling it with fabric balls in various sizes, some foam confetti I found at Michaels and some small plastic containers we had laying around (I think these were from an Easter egg dying kit). I dumped everything into a big, shallow plastic storage container with a LID THAT LOCKS, and set it on top of the an old sheet to catch any spills. Done.
Lilly and I have spent countless afternoons running our fingers through the foam bits, filling the plastic cups with the little balls, sorting everything by size, color, etc. We talk about textures (soft, rough, smooth, squishy). We talk about "small, large, medium." It's an excellent teaching tool to illustrate new words and concepts, and its a wonderful way to pass some time in that critical hour before Daddy gets home for dinner.
A couple of important notes:
- Obviously you're filling this container with small objects that could be a CHOKING HAZARD. This activity requires close supervision/interaction and is best undertaken with a child who no longer puts every single thing in their mouth.
- Be sure to choose a storage container with a locking lid to ensure your child can't get into it unsupervised.
- When using the box, spread an old sheet underneath to catch any items that land outside the container. At the end of your play session, simple wrap the sheet around the box to contain any stray bits. Every now and then, shake the stuff in the sheet back into the container. Honestly, even with the sheet I still seem to find a few stray confetti bits floating around on our hardwood but its nothing Earth shattering. Just know its a possibility.
Anyway, it's a fun and inexpensive activity. Even if you fill an old plastic tub with some rice, cotton balls and some empty yogurt tubs, I bet your kiddo will go gaga. Get creative and have fun.
Can anyone else suggest fun, easy activities that Lilly would love? I'm always on the hunt for a new project!