Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sensory Bins - We Need To Be Doing Them!

Hi y'all! I'm Molly... From KinderMolly. Now it's my turn! 

Today I'm going to talk about unexpected grocery items and ways you could use them in your room! Now, as a teacher, I think we have an innate creativity and a knack for finding useful ideas for not-so-useful things. I want to focus on sensory bins.

For some, a sand or water table is just that - and nothing more. But it can be more! Using all five senses is an every day thing, but I am a firm believer in playing outside of the common core fences and opening our students eyes to the world around us. A sensory bin isn't just a tub filled with colored rice and outside play toys. We need to make it more meaningful. For my students, I know simple sensory thrills might not be part of their everyday lives. I want them to explore and be children in my classroom - regardless of what is going on at home. These bins can be so easily integrated into a science curriculum, or a seasonal shift, why wouldn't we help our children get hands on learning?

Sensory bins are a great release for special students who might just need to get away. Last year, I had a student diagnosed with a type of Autism (PDD-NOS). He was very sensitive to bright lights, large groups and sounds, and other small things. He couldn't help it when he would act out - the world around him just wasn't something he was able to keep with. The sensory bin saved my sanity. It was his "safe" place. He could go to the sensory corner and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of our little tub. He could tune out the rest of the classroom there, while still learning and enjoying the only way he knew how. It was a lifesaver.

Think of the themes! Think of the sensory!
Colors (do a bin entirely with one color), a farm, fall, community helpers, sea life, a garden, Native Americans, frogs, fish, pets, pirate's treasure, dinosaurs, themes based on books (example: Chika Chika Boom Boom!), space, arctic, nature.. the possibilities are truly endless. Don't just think of things that have different touches. Think about colors, smells, sizes and sounds - using every sense you can in every bin.

You will not have a perfect sensory bin collection in one school year. It will take time - and yes, some money. I am an EXTREMELY organized person, so when it comes to themes throughout my classroom, everything is organized in boxes, upon boxes, upon bags, upon boxes. I go to garage sales. Target Dollar Spot and the Dollar store are my best friends. Get creative! But don't stress when you don't have the perfect Thanksgiving sensory bin in the coming weeks. Check out these great ideas I found just this weekend for a great Fall/Halloween sensory bin. I could even throw in some cheapie cinnamon sticks from Hobby Lobby for the sense of smell - and I'd make the classroom smell lovely!


I also LOVE this list from Caution! Twins at Play for sensory bin ideas.

Everything has labels. I do not have my "ultimate sensory directory" yet. I am not easily able to change out for the next every other week. But that's okay! You are learning and building your career just like your students. By all means, if you don't have the last nerve to get down that Valentine's sensory bin, DON'T DO IT. But know that you are expanding your students' brains when you do let them explore.

And lastly, I want to leave you with the most simple, most sinful desert that EVERY teacher needs to know. APPLE DUMP CAKE. 

It's apple-y. It's delicious. It's the simplest desert recipe you'll ever make. Want to know what to do with all those random apples* you get from those snotty sickly kids, this is it! Can I get an amen?! 

*Wash apples first. 

For this recipe: 
6 baking apples (I LOVE Pink Lady apples. They're the only kind I'll use. Granny Smith work well too!) 
One box of yellow cake mix 
One stick of butter
1/3 Cup of water
1 TBSP Cinnamon (Optional)
1 Cup chopped pecans (Optional) 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take out a large 9x13" pan and grease it with butter. Slice all of the apples (skin on) and place them in the pan. Pour water over apples. Optionally, sprinkle cinnamon on top of apples. 

Next, open up your cake mix and sprinkle that directly over the apples. You won't need all of it, maybe 2/3rds. Also you can add the pecans if you are using them. They give it a yummy, nutty crunch!

Melt your butter. Yes, the whole stick. Don't judge. Make Paula Dean happy.  

Pour the butter, gently, over the top of the cake mix/nut topping and place in the oven for 45 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, take a look. If the cake mix looks dry, you can pour small amounts of water around and place back in the oven to insure your cake mix is cooked through and delicioso! 

Done! You will fall in love instantly. It's so good and just screams Fall. Teachers need indulgence, right? Eat the entire pan in one weekend - we won't tell. 

Have a great day!


  1. That Apple Dump Cake looks delicious!!! I make something very similar, but with peaches from the can. It's so tasty! I'll have to try the apple, though! :) Thanks for sharing a little tasty treat!

  2. Molly, I love how you included a little recipe at the end of your post! It looks so tasty!!
    Missing Tooth Grins

  3. I love all your sensory bin finds, and I'm drooling over your apple dump cake! Looks delicious!

    One Sharp Bunch

  4. I started sensory bins this year- my kids are LOVING them! Cute finds! I am adding some 'spook'tauclar goodies to ours for the next 2 weeks!! Cake looks DELISH!!! Going to pin that for a sugar fix during stressful report card time! ;)
    Crayons & Cuties In Kindergarten

  5. Love sensory bins! We made a portable one at home. I can't wait to make the cake!!
    Differentiation Station Creations