How to: Sensory Box for Kids

Sensory box, tactile box, big old box of rice…call it what you will, it’s a lot of fun. I made this for the kids and they loved it. It is a great thing to do when the weather is cold and you are more prone to stay inside.
Sensory boxes are good for a lot of things. Not only do they keep kids busy and away from a TV screen, but they also help with fine motor skills and…other things that are developing in children. Ok, I’m not a child development specialist, but do know they are supposed to be great.
Sensory box = genius child.
What fun indoor things are you doing to keep your little ones busy? I need more ideas!

Here’s what you’ll need:
A box
Filler – this is where you can be creative. I used rice because I had it. You could use LOTS of things like pebbles, sand, small dry noodles, dried beans, unpopped popcorn, lentils
Foil, parchment, or other paper
Kitchen gadgets to play with – funnel, whisk, spoons, forks, small cups, big cups, tongs, spatulas

My box was 8 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 6 inches deep. The size depends on what you have and how much filler you have.  Line the bottom of the box with parchment paper and tape off the edges. This will help your filler to not fall through the cracks in the bottom of the box.

Add your filler. I used rice because I had a mouse chew through the bag in my pantry. I did want to eat it but I didn’t want to throw it away either! If you live in the big city I would go to a store that sells items in bulk bins and see what’s on sale! I used 4 pounds of rice in my box.

Add some things to do like a piece of cardboard and a loop made out of foil to the box.This held the funnel for the kids. I elevated it because it was more fun to watch the rice fall farther! I also made a  “slide” out of foil. It was just something else to dump the rice over.

Let the kiddos have at it with the other utensils and things that you have around!

If you are enjoying a pomegranate during this activity beware! Your pomegranate might get a little extra crunch! Yuck! This is obviously a bit messy. I would suggest clearing off your whole table and washing it before you start. That way you can easily put some of the spilled rice back in the box when you are done. Another option would be to have them play on the blanket and use it to put some of the rice back. Have your vacuum handy, but don’t worry too much about the mess because that’s half the fun!
One thing I’ve noticed as a mother is that kids normally work in 20 minute intervals. Things will be interesting for about 20 minutes and then you either have to change it up or they’ll change it up themselves – better known as they’ll start to bug each other! So when they started flicking the rice instead of pouring it through the funnel I busted out change. Literally.

I buried the money in the rice and they had to find it! My 4 year-old had to find the money with her utensils and the 2 year old could find them how ever he liked. He chose his hands.

After a few rounds of “treasure” hunting we needed to move on again.  This time we went for some imagination play. I let the kids pick out some animals and things from the toy box to bring into the rice box. Before I knew it we were having a swimming birthday party for Care Bear! The rice was the water and everyone had to sing and tell Care Bear what they were going to give her for her birthday.

No pool is complete without a water slide!

So we did 3 sets of 20 minutes of play: exploring with utensils, finding treasure, and make believe play.  One whole hour of fun was worth the 10 minutes it took to put the box together.
Don’t worry, the pomegranate still got eaten, rice and all!

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about me

About Melissa

I have a lot going on, and I’d much rather spend my time enjoying my messes than fretting about what I’m going to make for dinner. Over the past few years, I’ve nailed down a few strategies that helped me keep my kitchen running like a well-oiled machine, so I started Bless This Mess to help other mess-loving parents solve the nightly dinner delimma—no stress, no drama, just really great food your whole family will love. Read more...

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Love all your tips-like how much rice you used, the tin foil hoop, parchment paper at the bottom, 20 min intervals, etc. This looks like fun!

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.