Create a fun sensory bin with bugs and natural items
Sensory bins are so important in the development in young children. They provide safe spaces for children to explore through their senses and get introduced to imaginative play with different materials.
This bug sensory bin will have materials from outside like leaves and sticks, and some “fake” materials like plastic bugs and grass. You can make this as busy as you would like having many different materials or you can keep it simple with one medium like grass or sand, and then have as many bugs as you’d like.
Depending on the age of the infants, you may want to have bugs and mediums like sand or grass in large plastic zipped bags that are taped to the floor mat so that children cannot risk putting items in their mouths as choking hazards. Be sure to supervise infants at all times when exploring sensory bins.
Sit with infant on your lap and explore the sensory bin together, showing her how to find the bugs within the bin. When you find a bug, say something like, “Wow, look what I found! It’s a ______.” Mention colors, body parts, etc. to include math and science terms. Keeping activities like this for 1-2 children is helpful since children thrive in small groups with activities like this. To keep everyone healthy, be sure to wash hands before AND after sensory play, and sanitize hard plastic toys like bugs.
For ages 6 weeks - 12 months: Large ziplock bag (3-5 gallon) and Tape (for securing bag down to surface)
For ages 12-24 months: Bin (large enough for a child to explore and deep enough where it will not spill easily. Make sure you have a lid for easy storage)
Mediums (sand, fake grass, sticks, leaves, black beans, lentils etc.)
Bugs (non-toxic plastic bugs of various shapes and sizes to place in bin.)
Accessories in science center (magnifying glass, binoculars, child-size tweezers, collection jars)
Individual photos of plastic bugs taped to jars or on cards (optional)
Repeating actions that produce outcomes. Focused play. Exploring objects. Match plastic bug to photo
Depending on the age of the infant, fill a bin (older) or a plastic zip bag (younger) with a few mediums like sand, leaves, grass as well as 5-10 different plastic bugs.
Have the bin on the floor or at a low table where children can access them.
Allow 1-2 children to safely explore the sensory bin or bag! Sit with them and engage by exploring with them to model how to play.
Show gentle hands and how to keep items in the bin while you play. Say things like, “Wow, look what I found!”, “This bug is red!”, “I found four bugs. I wonder how many more there are!”
As an extension activity, have students put each bug in a jar with a matching photo of the bug on it to practice matching! Be sure to take a photo of the exact plastic bug for little ones so they can be successful in matching.
Have various books in the science area about bugs to help encourage exposure to literature.
What kinds of bugs are there?
How many legs does a bug have?
Where do bugs live?
Why are some people scared of bugs?
How are bugs helpful?