Sensory bins can be magical for kids. Their imaginations can go wild and they’re often very calming for children. A child may decide to use a scoop and a bowl or cup to transfer rice from one container to another, dump it back out, and do it all over again. This type of play is wonderfully beneficial for children. However, if you’re looking for additional ways to play and sneak in some fun learning with your kids while playing with their Knights and Dragons Sensory Kit from Broccoli Boxes? Have no fear. We’ve got you covered.
After finding a place in your house where a slight mess will be easy to clean up, think outside, the floor in the kitchen, a table, some place you can put a towel or large art paper down and remember that vacuum cleaners are a mom’s best friend, I recommend allowing your child to play anyway they wish. If they want to scoop sand into the little bowl for 45 minutes, let them. Sit back and observe your children at work. You can also narrate what your child is doing for a bit. “I see you are using the scoop to transfer or move the sand into the small wood bowl.” This type of narration with no value statements can be incredibly important for a child’s language development. Some examples of value statements to avoid during this type of narration include: “I like how you…” or “You are doing a good job at…”.
Follow your child’s lead. You will be amazed where their imaginations will take them! Occasionally, your child may be reluctant to get started or you may wish to subtly steer their play, or maybe your child is asking you to play and you need ideas yourself. Below are a few ideas you can use to get you started.
- Before reading the book, show your child the cover and ask, “What do you think this book is going to be about?” Then, follow up by asking, “what makes you think that?”
- On page 6, George and the Man with the Yellow Hat arrive at a rock quarry. Ask your child what they think is going to happen next and why they think that. If your child isn’t sure, look at the picture together and notice what the people are doing and the tools they are using.
- On page 13, a man is using a small brush to dust what might be a dinosaur bone. Talk with your child about why he might be using a brush.
- On page 15, George jumps onto a tipsy wheelbarrow. Before turning the page, ask your child what they think is going to happen next and then follow up by asking them why they think that. These types of questions are great for children to begin making predictions and inferences about a text.
- On page 20, George was afraid the scientists would be angry with him. Ask your child why they think George was worried? However, in the end, the scientists weren’t upset, why not?
- Take turns hiding the dinosaurs in the sand and excavating them.
- Use the brush to gently “dust” the bones off just as they did in the book.
- Count the dinosaurs and all the objects in the kit.
- Look at the bones in the kit. Do you have any dinosaurs that could match those bones?
- Scooping the sand into the bowl is great fine motor and eye/hand coordination practice. Try filling the bowl and putting it upside down in your kit to make little dinosaur mounds. How many can you make? Can you hide a dinosaur inside a mound?
- Try making a hole or a nest in the sand and then using the scoop to make little “eggs”.
- Make an “egg” in your hand with sand and hide a dinosaur inside that can hatch out.
- Flatten the sand out and use the dinosaurs to make footprints. Encourage your child to do the same. Then, look at the footprints and compare them. Are they the same size? Do they have the same shape? Can you tell which dinosaur was bigger based on the prints?
- Ask open-ended questions as your child plays, both about their play and about the story. Open-ended questions require children to think more deeply and expand on their thoughts and ideas. Some open-ended question starters include:
- “What if…?”
- “What does this remind you of…”
- “What does this make you think about…?”
- “How are these alike? How are they different?”
These Ways to Play are not meant to be an exhaustive list, after all the possibilities are literally endless, but more of a starting point. They also don’t need to be printed and checked off as you go, but certainly can be if that’s what works best for you and your family.
After experimenting with a few of these, let me know which one worked best for you!