Monday, 2 April 2012

Sensory Bin / Discovery Box: Gardening (with optional water station)

The weather has been glorious here in the West of England for the last week or so and all my attentions have turned outdoors.  I have a small stockpile of posts to write about some of the ways I've been making my tiny garden a haven for outside exploration and play.  I'll try to get a few more posts up in the next week to compensate for my bloglessness over the past couple of weeks (we've been sick here.  repeatedly.  annoyingly.) However, first I wanted to share the new gardening sensory box.  

After the Spring Birds sensory box, the contents of this one aren't particularly spectacular: compost, seed packets (fantastic fine motor skills practise - learning to tear delicately so as not to spill the seeds!), small recycled plastic pots, child-sized gardening tools, gloves and a watering can.  Great for kids of all ages. The baby likes to get his hands in the compost and explore the tools and pots and the older kids figured out how to plant the seeds in the pots with no adult instruction needed simply by looking at the materials available and figuring it out.  Love it when that happens!

This is a great one on it's own.  However, the addition of the 'water station' has seriously extended the scope of play with this sensory bin and I really recommend it. 

I don't have an outside water tap in my garden (don't get me started, it is the biggest gripe I've got about this house).  Rather than live without a water source this summer or let the kids run in and fill endless watering cans spilling through the house with every step, I've simply bought a portable water carrier.  It folds flat when not in use (crucial for those of us with no storage space) and holds 15 litres when full.  I specifically looked for one with a turning mechanism rather than a button to push in and hold.  I felt that a push button may be too difficult for the kids to use independently (particularly when filling bottles), whilst the turning mechanism is a great way to build up those hand and wrist muscles.  The downside is that the kids have to learn to turn off the water or it all drains out.  Next to the water jug, I've placed a spray bottle and another watering can.  On the other side of the sensory table (not pictured) is a shelf full of other items including scoops and containers which are always available for use.  I deliberately only put out a few items so that there isn't too much choice*.  

This combination kept them all busy and entertained for hours, which is a very long time indeed.

*It is my belief and experience that too much choice leads to overwhelmed kids who don't play deeply, but throw things around and bicker over ownership.  Life is too short to set myself up for this.  I'm too lazy to sort out all the wars over stuff.  They still argue with less stuff, just not as much.  And they are less likely to throw.  I can't stand the throwing.  Because then I feel compelled to tell them not to throw and to pick up the thrown things.  Sometimes they don't want to do this and whining commences.  I can't bear the whining.  Or the thrown things.  Or myself sounding like my mother.  So, I just put a few things out. 


  1. I have the same table from ikea and love this idea!! Where did you get storage containers that fit perfectly?

    1. Ack, sorry, I've been off-line for the last week! I got the storage bin from Homebase last summer. I was utterly thrilled to find one that fit so well!