I don’t like to talk money much because it’s an awkward topic. My husband is a soldier in the U.S. army and frankly, we don’t have much extra money to put towards homeschooling at all. I find myself being very frugal when it comes to homeschooling needs, especially now that Royal is getting to preschool age. I know there are plenty others in the same shoes as I am as well! So I thought it would be nice to start a weekly thrifty/frugal series focusing mainly on the tot-kindergarten years!
I find it so easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles out there. And the fact that Lakeshore Learning’s 2012 catalog just arrived in my mailbox did not help at all. I’d love one of everything in their catalog, please! But in reality, our young kids don’t need all that fancy stuff. They don’t care if everything matches or if it’s made for a certain activity! They love to explore and create and be imaginative – and those are some of the exact qualities we should be encouraging! Not being able to afford all those cute things may be a blessing instead of a curse.
So let’s start with sensory bins (or tables, trays, or just sensory activities in general!). I have seen so many cute, themed, sensory bins. I’ve been sucked into many of the ideas on Pinterest, too! But really, our young kids do not care if the bins are cute and themed! You can create many sensory bins out of items that you already own! These would be essentially free materials!
I call this a farm bin, but mostly because I found these farm animals in a toy box! There is a horse, pig, sheep, and cow. I’m sure they were from a Toob we bought years ago, but I honestly cannot remember buying them. I added some rice and lentil beans (which I can later sift through a colander to sort out and cook, if I so choose), some paper that I shredded (junk mail is great for this!), a few marbles, scraps of yarn, and a few spoons. All this cost me $0! I’ve included a list of items for sensory bins that you probably already own at the end of the post.
Food can also be a great sensory experience. Pudding, Jell-O, yogurt, even sour cream! Toddlers love to let loose with things they normally have to be restrained with, and if it’s food you don’t have to worry about them putting it in their mouths! Try writing letters, shapes, or numbers in the food too!
Here’s Logi-Bear enjoying a bit of pudding. Sensory experiences like this are great for babies too! He spent a lot of time just squishing the pudding in his fingers!
And water! Water is great for pouring, transferring, spooning – everything sensory like! We’ve switched out all our bath toys for cups, bowls, spoons, funnels and boats. Every bath is now a bit of a sensory experience! Playing in the sink, water tables, and pools are great too! And sometime you might try putting a bucket (on a towel) in the middle of the room and letting them go. It might get a bit messy but sometimes you’ve got to break the rules! Add some soap or bubble bath to the water and play with the bubbles.
This picture is over 2 years old! This was Baloo at 3 years old playing with boats in our living room! Check out the original post here!
Great items for sensory bins:
Paper toilet rolls
Empty medicine bottles
Old photo film canisters
Packing peanuts/bubble wrap (save this when you receive anything in a box!)
Small toys (animals, people, cars)
Just look for things around your house and I’m sure you can make an awesome sensory bin without spending a dime!
Leave me a link in the comments to any cheap sensory activities you’ve done! I always need more ideas!