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Three things I love: watching my children engrossed in play; buying something a bit different and inexpensive and using it for LOTS of different activities; a lovely sensory experience rich in natural learning opportunities!  So this post is one of my favourite kinds as it covers all of the above.

Engrossed in Play?  Only for the last few weeks and still going strong

Something different and inexpensive?  Aquarium Gravel

Sensory experience and learning? LOVING the feel of the gravel.  Learning? Capacity, measure, exploration, number, counting, ordering, recognition of number, stories, imagination, retelling stories, taking on characters, speech and language, phonics, initial sounds… is that enough from a bag of gravel?  Definitely on my Christmas present list in LOADS of different colours!!

One bag of aquarium gravel three gorgeous sensory bins

Sensory Bin 1: Click here for previous post.

Sensory Bin 2: Discover and Uncover the Numbers

Couldn’t be easier.  J has this lovely Melissa and Doug puzzle.  The aim of the game is to count the objects and match it to the number.  J loves it but over recent few months hasn’t touched it.  So, as I’ve said before, simply presenting their current toys in a new way, makes them appealing again.  No need to buy new ones, just ‘recreate’ the ones you have.  For this bin I laid the pieces out at the bottom on the bin and added a wooden bowl for interest so it wasn’t so flat.

Number Sensory Bin

Finally, I poured the aquarium gravel over the number and added a pastry brush.

Number Sensory Bin.jpg1

J went straight for the pastry brush and began sweeping of the gravel.  He wasn’t very interested in the numbers to begin with, he just enjoyed playing ‘sweeping!’

Number Sensory Bin.jpg2

J tipped the bowl upside down and and began sprinkling and tipping the gravel.  Not only is the feel of it lovely between J’s fingers, the sound of it hitting the bowl J also enjoyed.

Number Sensory Bin.jpg3

It wasn’t long before J began counting the pictures on the puzzle with one-to-one correspondence, pointing and counting out loud.

Number Sensory Bin.jpg4

J laid them out on the kitchen floor as he matched them and cheered himself as he found them under the gravel.

Number Sensory Bin.jpg5

Another thing J did was recognise that the numbers went together.  He ordered 1 and 2 and then tried to order 8 and 9 but put them in the wrong order. Proud of my boy!

Number Sensory Bin.jpg6

Sensory Bin 3:

This sensory bin was based around one of J’s favourite stories, Tiddler (by Julia Donaldson).  I simply added a few plastic sprigs of greenery to act as seaweed, a piece of wood, some fish and some of J’s soft toy characters. Final touch was some magnetic letters and a copy of Tiddler.

Tiddler Sensory Bin

Before we started playing, we sat down and read the story (for the millionth time but that is absolutely fine) and then J couldn’t wait to start playing.  He role played with the characters and Tiddler told lots of tales just as he does in the story.  Unfortunately, just as Tiddler is a tinker in the story, so too is my little man!! He managed to get hold of my camera after this play session and deleted the photos!!!!!!! NOT a happy Mummy!  Never mind, you’ll get the gist!

Tiddler Sensory Bin.jpg2

As you can see in the photo above, I had placed a ‘c’ for crab on the crabs back.  J noticed this and found ‘o’ for octopus and ‘t’ for Tiddler. I was really happy with this initial sound play and recall of grapheme/phoneme correspondence.

J played with this Tiddler box for a week before our holiday and a few days we after we returned.  It was the first thing he went to when we arrived home and he declared he was so happy to be back! Bless him! J also got some of his wooden tong and used them to ‘rescue the fish’ from the nasty fishermen (as feature in the story!).  We all know, fine motor skill development is a must in our home, so playing with these tongs was a good call from J! The number sensory bin is going strong at the moment and I’m wondering what else we’ll do with this gravel!!

Tiddler Sensory Bin.jpg3

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