The local museum in our town does a kid craft class a few times a week. In addition to craft stations where kids can follow the directions to complete the craft, there are also some free play stations; usually a play dough table and a sensory bin. When I started taking Thing One his favorite part was the sensory bin. Since he liked it so much I made him a few at home. For a while we had multicolored rice which is very easy to make, just mix a couple of cups of rice with a few drops of food coloring and stir 'til you get the color you want, then mix all the colors together. I let it sit for a day, so that I was sure it was all dry before Thing One played in it. Thing Two's favorite sensory bin has been beans. I didn't really think I made it big enough for him to play in the bin, but he seems to think there's plenty of room to sit in there.
I bought a cheap plastic bin and filled it about one inch thick with dry black, navy, and pinto beans. This color combo seemed like the perfect habitat for dinosaurs, so we threw in a bunch of plastic dinos and a few cups for pouring.
The lid snaps on, so the boys can't get into it without asking, and it's small enough to slide under our kitchen island cart, so we don't have to tote it around. It's been great in the winter, because our sandbox is more often soggy than not (even if it's warm enough to play outside). This gives the boys a fun sensory activity and it's not that big of a mess even it spills over, a quick sweep and we are good to go.
Sensory bins are so easy to make and could be made with anything. I posted about making one with "cloud dough" before. Colored rice, pasta, oatmeal, water, shaving cream... there are so many fun options you could do. I really like the beans though because they are durable (they don't get crushed like pasta), they last a long time (unlike shaving cream), and they're not difficult to clean up (like oatmeal and rice). If you have a Sam's membership you could probably get a good deal on the beans, or you can always pick up a bunch of bags at the $1 store.
Have a great weekend! I'll be back with one more week of Cain Fever Cures. Thanks for reading!