Babies begin to discover their world through their 5 senses, so being intentional about providing opportunities for children to explore their senses will help guide them to explore and learn. According to Goodstart Early Learning, "providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways". They even go on to suggest that research shows that "one in six children may have sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions" which makes introducing sensory play at an early age an even more crucial role in a child's development.
What exactly is Sensory Play?
Sensory play is a hands on activity that stimulates a child's senses. It guides a child in their exploration of scientific processes building understanding between ideas such as cause and effect. This type of scientific play is building pre-math skills, fine motor skills, language skills, imaginative play, and more. Sensory play is open ended, allowing the child to explore and discover on their own.
Is Sensory Play Necessary?
Twodaloo has a great blog post about why sensory play is so important these days. In summary, she suggests that children are spending less time outside exploring naturally than before. As well, there are many other things competing for the attention of our children including technology and academic drilling at a young age. Independent play skills are crucial for brain development and sensory bins can aid in this.
How do you make a Construction Truck Sensory Bin?
1. Choose a bin - Depending on what type of bin you are making, choose a size that is appropriate. For our Construction Trucks, we chose a bin that was long and shallow so there was enough space for 2 kids to drive their trucks around, digging and dumping.
2. Choose a filler - For our construction Trucks bin, we used dried black beans to replicate dirt, but large enough to clean up quickly and easily if any beans fell out of the bin.
3. Add your trucks and any other toy you feel fits the theme. We put in excavators, diggers, dump trucks, bulldozers, etc so that the kids could explore in whatever way they wanted too. We found many of the trucks at the dollar store and through buy and sells so we didn't have to spend too much money. There are some smaller ones at Costco for a great price right now too.
We also used this opportunity to teach our kids the name of the trucks and how they are used in real life. We just moved to a newer community, so we see construction trucks outside our windows daily. Here are some awesome books that go along with this sensory bin too:
1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site - By Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld - This book illustrates different types of construction trucks and what they are busy doing during the day.
2. Backhoe Joe - By Lori Alexander and Craig Cameron - This book is filled with the imagination of a little boy who tries to adopt a backhoe. This backhoe behaves as though he is the little boy's pet.
3. Construction - By Sally Sutton - This book explores the construction of a library. It helps children put together what prio knowledge they already have about building and helps them learn the process of actually building something that is applicable to them in an entertaining way.
Have fun playing and learning!