This black beans sensory bin makes a stunning addition to the classroom! Sensory bins are a favorite center for many students, which means teachers are always searching for new ideas. Finding cost-efficient fillers for this center is easy when you think outside the box (or inside a bag).
Using dried black beans from the local grocery store is an easy upgrade in the sensory bin. Opportunities for fine motor, conversations & sharing, math skills, and calming tools make this center so appealing to both students and teachers. (The rocket ships are by Lakeshore Learning.)
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Sensational Black Beans Sensory Station
Black beans are fantastic for many different sensory bin themes. The black color is versatile and makes objects stand out. Constructive Playthings has a tremendous sensory table that is deep enough to keep the beans inside while playing. Small bins or containers placed on the floor or table make individual sensory bins. Some themes to consider when using black beans include:
- Outer space – Fill the bin with black beans, rockets, small star erasers, astronaut figurines, aliens, and other such items.
- Spiders/ Halloween – Fill the bin with black beans and add plastic spiders, small (real or plastic) pumpkins, miniature cauldrons, plastic ping-pong eyeballs, tongs, and small buckets.
- Black and silver New Year’s theme – fill the bin with black beans and add tiny silver buckets with silver beads and tiny scoops, spoons, and tongs. Add some sparkly number candles to have a countdown!
- Counting and sorting activities – fill the bin with black beans and add little plastic terrarium globes with sorting labels in the bottom and counters to be sorted. Place tongs in as well to give more fine motor skill opportunities.
- Garden – Add bright plastic flowers, small shovels, flowerpots, and small rakes.
Learning at the Sensory Table
Exposure to different sensory materials, such as black beans, provides many opportunities for learning through play. Here are a few of the many skills that are possible at a black bean sensory table:
- Math Skills – Provide labeled buckets within the sensory table. Hide small counters or other manipulatives in the black beans. Students sort the items by color, shape, or size. Buckets with numbers attached is another option. The students put the matching number of beans in each bucket using their hands or tongs.
- Fine Motor – Add tongs, scoops, and funnels to the sensory table. Similar to the math skills, the students practice using the small muscles in their hands by picking up items and sorting them into groups.
- Problem Solving – Add puzzle pieces to the sensory table for an extra challenge. Students must find the pieces hidden in the black beans, then negotiate space and shape to fit the piece within the puzzle.
Black beans in the sensory table offer so many opportunities. And the bonus? Store the dried beans for years in an airtight container. Reuse them for many more occasions, saving even more money for years!
Safety Reminder when using Sensory Bins
As a caregiver, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your children. Contact a pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about an activity’s safety/age appropriateness. The activities shared today are to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should always be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful or items that could present a choking risk (small items). Observe caution and safety at all times.
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Sensory play is beneficial for science as well! Read about this here!
Why is sensory play so important? NAEYC goes into the science behind it here!