TASTE SAFE CONSTRUCTION SITE SENSORY BIN
General fact of life: toddlers of all ages love trucks of all sizes. In our house cars and busses get an equal amount of love too. So when I spotted these construction vehicles on sale at Winners I snatched them up SO fast because I knew how much love they would get! That’s how this taste safe construction site sensory bin came about!
Setting up this activity took me under five minutes – and that included opening the package of vehicles! In the bigger sized bin I added a layer of steel cut oats. I did steel cut oats vs other oats for two reasons. One, they’ve been sitting in our pantry not being eaten. Two, I liked the texture contrast of steel cut oats vs graham crumbs.
In the first small bin I added the layer of rocks.
Since it’s the middle of winter here I used one bag of river rocks from the crafts aisle of Dollarama. But you could use any old rocks or gravel you can find!
You could even plan a rock hunt ahead of this sensory bin and have the kids hunt for their own rocks at the park, on a forest trail and straight out of your own garden. Steal from the neighbours garden at your own risk…
In the second small bin I added the water and graham cracker crumbs. I added just enough water for the cracker crumbs to be wet. It made a nice paste that smelled great!
It’s rare that I choose to buy plastic toys brand new. I hate the waste aspect of them as they truly aren’t built to last and aren’t recyclable. But I equally tend to worry about using most wooden toys in sensory bins that involve liquids and don’t trust using most wooden toys in the bath, pool and mud kitchen. I’ve had wooden toys crack and expand because of it!
So on the rare occasion I do buy a plastic toy I make sure it doesn’t require batteries, is open enough that mold won’t grow and allows for versatile uses! These little trucks checked off these boxes for me.
I also like their size. They’re large enough that the little hands didn’t struggle to play with them but small enough that the whole set fits into the Trofast bins! They’ll be easy to throw into our backpack when we head to the park to play too.
When I posted a video of this activity to my Instagram stories I was questioned how I get them to keep the materials inside the bins. The answer: I don’t!
There was a light coating of steel cut oats across our floor when they were done from vigorous truck driving mixed with celebratory tossing of oats into the air. There was graham crumb paste on our back door. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to pick up any rocks.
Whenever we do sensory activities I don’t try to intervene and stop a mess. I think the moving, tossing, safe tasting and experimenting all play an equal part of the learning process. I know what will happen when I throw steel cut oats into the air because I learned what would happen – now I’m letting them explore too!
Listen, I get it. Cleaning up after a sensory activity is not enticing. Mess anxiety is a real thing. But it took a quick vacuum to clear the floor, a fast scrub to get the graham coating off the door and an easy since in a colander to get the materials off the rocks and trucks!
I remind myself that they’re occupied, they’re learning and most importantly they’re having so much fun.
I do slightly regret not learning what each type of vehicle was specifically called before we started and thankfully no one asked me.
But we did experiment on what each type of material could and could not do and which truck was best to work with each material.
We also learned that the graham cracker crumb plus water paste was strong enough (kinda) to stick the rocks together and build a rock wall!
Yes, there was also tasting involved. One twin spent the majority of this activity just eaten graham cracker paste. No shame in it – I would probably do the same if someone set a delicious snack in front of me and told me to have at it!
Some other taste safe materials you could use are:
- Oreo baking crumbs
- Regular oats
- Whole wheat flour (mix it with coconut oil for a more sandy texture)
- Any cracker or cookie crushed to a crumb texture (food processor it, baby!)
- Baby cereal
- Shredded coconut
- Crushed walnuts
- Dry chickpeas or beans
- Chocolate chips
They lasted an entire hour before the boredom of the activity started to set it. Which is a win to me! If you have one, this would be a fun one to play in an Active World Tray too – great option for the smaller ones who aren’t standing yet.
Keeping this a taste safe bins means not only that it’s great for the younger crowd but you could easily zero waste it! Buy the fillers at an zero waste concept store like Bulk Barn then add them to your green bin when you’re finished. I see lots of sensory activities that involve waste, so zero waste option ones are important too.
That’s it for this activity. Be sure to check out my other easy, taste safe sensory bin ideas!