This gingerbread sensory bin is a sure hit with your little learners! It’s super quick and easy to set up and goes well with a gingerbread man theme or a holiday themed unit of study.
It’s easy to overthink what to put inside your sensory bins, but the simpler the sensory bin, the more fun your kids will have playing and learning.
Gingerbread Sensory Bin
If you’re new to the sensory bin scene, you can learn all about them here.
And if you’re on the fence about sensory bins, hear me out – because the educational benefits far outweigh any mess. Messes are the cost of doing kid business.
Any good early childhood teacher knows that young children learn best when they’re touching and exploring things with their hands.
That’s why sensory bins are perfect for little learners! They allow young children to explore, play, and discover without any set expectations. All you have to do is invite them to explore the materials inside the tub however they would like (within reason, of course!)
Exploration and discovery naturally leads to pouring, scooping, and transferring. When they pour, scoop, and transfer, your kids are really being introduced to important academic skills like volume, weight, more and less etc. It’s kind of like hiding vegetables in their mac and cheese, they have no idea they’re learning, they just think they’re having lots of fun!
Sensory Bins and Fine Motor
Have I mentioned all of the fabulous opportunities for developing fine motor skills that sensory bins offer to young children? You’re about to have your preschool world rocked, my friend!
Fine motor skills are the small muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists. Your kids need to develop these skills first, before they can be successful with self-help skills like feeding and dressing themselves, as well as holding a pencil and writing.
Now that you know what an educational powerhouse sensory bins can be, I bet you can’t wait to get started with this one! And don’t forget, the educational benefits are far greater than any messes that may happen.
Gingerbread Sensory Bin Supplies
To get started, gather the materials you’ll need to set up a fun and engaging bin for your kids. Here are some suggestions below, but you can get creative and add more materials, or just use whatever you have available.
- Gingerbread Man Book (here’s a list of my favorites)
- Brown Rice
- Brown Liquid Watercolor (optional)
- Cookie Cutters
- Measuring Cups
- Wiggly Eyes
- Jingle Bells
Of course, most of the things listed here are optional, you can use whatever items you have at your disposal. I found the cookie cutters, measuring cups, tongs, and wooden spoons at my local dollar store. The little wooden gingerbread people and house were purchased at Target in the dollar section.
Sensory Bin Prep
Place a few of your gingerbread man materials on a tray so you can easily introduce them to your children.
Next, you’ll want to read your favorite copy of The Gingerbread Man aloud during your whole group time. And if you’ve got a good gingerbread song, sing it too.
After you’ve finished reading the book and singing the song, introduce the tray of items to your students. Pass the tray around the group so they can touch, smell, and feel the materials.
Ask questions about the items on the tray such as, “How does it feel?” “How does it smell?” or “What can you do with that?”
Gingerbread Theme Sensory Play
Now it’s time for the fun to begin! Show your kids how they can explore the materials in the bin however they would like. Hold up the cookie cutters and pom-poms and ask them what they might do with them.
You’ll also want to demonstrate how to use some of the materials too. Show your kids how they can pick up the pom-poms with the tongs to decorate the gingerbread men. Using tongs is a great way for your kids to develop fine motor skills; they’ll also be practicing important counting and one-to-one correspondence skills.
When they use the scoops to pour the rice they’ll also be practicing those important fine motor skills we talked about earlier.
Don’t get discouraged if your kids just want to play in the rice without counting or transferring the pom-poms with tongs, they’re still getting plenty of fine motor practice as they use the scoops to pour rice.
Open-ended sensory experiences like this allow your kids to learn through play while having lots of fun!