Long before we had children, I saw the coolest ‘mama-made’ sensory activity. My sister Jen had filled a large plastic container with a variety of beans for her daughter, Maggie, then about three. In addition to the beans, there were all sorts of things to scoop up the beans. I remember sitting on the floor of Maggie’s bedroom playing with her, and the beans – honestly it was pretty fun for me, too.
I was super exited when Ethan was old enough (I knew he wouldn’t put the beans in his mouth) to play with beans. He’s had them for a couple of years now, and even at four, still loves “playing beans.”
- Large container with a cover, at least 2 feet wide, 2 feet, long, and 1 foot deep
- Enough beans to fill the container about 1/3 of the way. We use white, kidney and pinto beans.
- Tools for play, such as a mixing spoon, measuring cup, bowl, cup – small plastic containers (clean!) from the recycling bin make great tools.
Here are just a few great ways to enhance your teachable moments while you play with beans:
- Scoop and dump the beans using a container, or your hands
- Separate some, or all, of the beans by shape, size, or color
- Practice counting
- Use the beans to make shapes or letters
- Teach measurement with measuring cup