I've come down with an incurable case of the travel bug. Being in Europe makes traveling so easy, I just want to go EVERYWHERE! But then, reality sets in, and I realize it's probably unwise to plan a six week backpacking trip through the Swiss alps with the kids. Oh bother. Currently, I'm obsessed with wanting to see the Aurora Borealis. This is the best season for it and tourists are heading up in droves to the arctic circle to stay in class ceilinged igloos and watch the heavens open up. Some day, I will go, but for today, I decided to set up a sensory bin around my current wanderlust.
We began by whipping up a batch of clean mud which is 1 bar of grated Ivory soap, 1 roll of shredded toilet paper and two cups of water. Add the water slowly so that you don't end up with a runny mixture. It ends up being very moldable, and only sticks to your hands a little bit, if it's runny add more toilet paper.
Then, we made an Ivory soap explosion by cutting a bar of soap in half and microwaving 1/2 for a minute (900 watts). Using the full bar will result in it overflowing your microwave, it gets BIG! If your explosion deflates when you take it out then it wasn't microwaved long enough, but you can pop it back in for a few more seconds. The end result is very fragile and crumbles easily, making the perfect faux snow!
This is the invitation I set up for the kids, I set up the sensory bin with the clean mud, Ivory soap explosion mountains, some ice gems and blue water gems and of course a few arctic animals. Then, I taped a sheet of poster board to the back of the bin and got out the watercolors!
My favorite way to teach the kids about new animals is by grouping them in to habitats, it offers a more well rounded and concrete experience, I think. We talked about which animals live in the arctic tundra, and what helps keep them warm. Penguins have feathers, seals and whales have blubber, the bear and moose store up lots of fat through the summer to help sustain them through the cold winter. It also provides a chance to explore the food chain, who eats who... For some reason, this doesn't bother Aurora, she knows that some animals are meat eaters and they've gotta do what they've gotta do!
Their favorite part of this sensory bin though, was the painting, Aurora especially is my little artist, she loved painting the sky, and she loved that the Aurora Borealis was named after her (of course it wasn't the other way around!). Someday we'll get to take our trip to Norway to see the northern lights, and when we do, I hope it's as magical as our afternoon of playing pretend arctic explorers!
For more sensational sensory ideas, check out my Pinterest board devoted to exploring the senses! Follow Brigette @ Life Lesson Plans's board Kids: Sensory & Small World Bins on Pinterest.