Friday, January 13, 2012

DIY Sensory Table in a Tote with Colored Rice

I'm so excited about this post!

My niece and nephew are coming this weekend. That's had me thinking a lot about toddlers. I started thinking about one of the things that kids loved the most when I worked in daycares and preschools through college.

The Sensory Table.

As an adult, it was always my favorite thing to do with the kids in my care. The options for a sensory table are endless.

Most of us, however, do not have room for a sensory table, and they aren't a cheap purchase. With winter upon us, there's always those days where we get desperate for something different to do with the kids. My brother is a fireman and his wife a nurse, so they have weird schedules, which include one or the other of them being on kid duty for long periods on their own. I thought it'd be fun to make them a Sensory Table In A Tote

Also known as "Mom's (or Dad's) Rainy/Cold Day Sanity Saver". Here's how I did it.

My favorite thing for a sensory table is colored rice. It's so fun. Super easy, here's what you need

Rubbing alcohol, a gallon sized ziploc bag, white rice, and food coloring

Put desired amount of rice in your baggie. I did 2 cups at a time. For each cup of rice, add a capful of the rubbing alcohol. Seal bag and mix well so the alcohol coats the rice.

Then add in 2 to 3 drops of the food coloring.

Seal bag again and mix mix mix until color is evenly distributed. Spread out on waxed paper so it can dry. I love these colors

While the rice is drying, take three pounds of dried beans (of assorted types) and mix into a gallon sized ziploc bag and seal shut (removing all the air).

You will also need some measuring cups or any kind of small cups.

And I think it's fun to include some little plastic animals or other treasures for the kids to dig around in the tote and find.

This next item is a must if you want to a) minimize cleanup for your own sensory tote and b) stay friends with any parents to whom you might give this tote as a gift for their child. A shower curtain. Spread it out on the floor before proceeding with Sensory Tote play will allow for a much easier clean up!

Now it's time to check on the rice. Mix it all up. Look how beautiful it turned out!!!

Put the rice in a clean gallon sized ziploc, remove air and seal.

I printed these instructions, glued them on cardstock, stuck it in a plastic sleeve to 'laminate' it, and used packing tape to tape it on the inside of the box lid. My favorite instruction is the idea of filling the tote with snow on a day where it's too cold to go OUT to play in the snow. I brought in a big tote of snow last year for my girls and spread out towels on the kitchen floor...and they had a blast! Mittens and snow in the middle of the kitchen!

Put the lid on, decorate the top as you choose (I was busy working on 2 cakes today so this is as fancy as I got). Store away for a long, house-bound sort of day. I really think this would make a really fun gift for an 18 month to 3 year old, maybe even older. I know my two girls (almost 4 and 8) love when I get stuff like this out! Make one, put a bow on it, and give it to someone!

Total cost: $4 for the tote at walmart. You want one BIGGER than the plastic-shoebox size. $2 on rice, $2 on beans, shower curtain, frogs, and measuring cups $1/each at Dollar Tree. Total project price $11. If you already have totes like this sitting at home, it'll be an even cheaper project!!

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