Saturday, August 11, 2012

Idle Hands

We've all heard the expression "idle hands are the devil's workshop" and it rings especially true for kids. Ignoring them when you're on the phone, for example, can lead to some pretty nasty consequences. Half the time, I feel like kids act out for attention and half the time I think they are just...bored. I'm lucky my daughter is OCD when it comes to drawing. It is an outlet for her that allows her to expend some of her creative energy and keep her mind sharp. She will sit at the kitchen table for hours drawing and making books. I often joke that you take the girl's pen and paper and you take the air from her lungs. But nothing can keep a child from misbehaving for long. If they need attention they will get it somehow. Here's where the sensory tub comes in. I had been wanting to make these for a long time and found a few great ideas online.
There are so many different ways to construct a sensory tub. It's a basic concept: fill a box, let them play. You can use materials you already have around the house and supplement with inexpensive toys and favors from dollar stores. The priciest part of the box is the "filler", the rice, pasta, sand...etc. that fills most of your container.The beautiful thing about this project is, you can't go wrong. Little hands love and actually need to dig, measure, sort and sift. Their senses are still developing and the process of play stimulates different areas of their brains.
So let's get started! I began using large plastic containers I already had. I made identical boxes for each of my children, hoping they wouldn't fight over them....a girl can dream, right? I chose to use macaroni for my filler. I dyed mine but you can totally use it uncolored. It's just fun to have a variety of colors in the box...more on that in a minute. I perused Target and let my kids grab a few trinkets from the party favor section: beaded necklaces, plastic rings, and an assortment of plastic creepy crawlers. You can go to town with themes too although I just kinda let the kids grab whatever. Some fun themes would be: A beach box with sand, shells, rocks...etc. or an outdoor theme with plastic Easter grass as filler and plastic bugs. Like I said, the possibilities are endless!
So I started by dying the macaroni as it would take about an hour to dry. I bought four boxes of macaroni (12 oz. each) and dyed half to give the tub contrast. For two boxes of macaroni, you'll need a large zip-top bag, parchment paper or waxed paper, a cookie sheet, food coloring, and hand sanitizer (hand sanitizer?? yes, the alcohol is the magic ingredient here.) Pour your macaroni (you can also do this with pasta or rice) into the bag, squirt a few drops of food coloring and a few drops of hand sanitizer in the bag and "massage" the bag, mixing everything together. Pour out onto cookie sheet lined with the parchment or waxed paper and allow to dry about an hour. You can also do smaller batches of assorted colors. Once dry, fill container with macaroni and trinkets. Give your kids tweezers, shovels, spoons...whatever you have lying around that they can dig with. Using the smaller tools allows them to hone their tactical skills and work those fingers! Hopefully your children like this activity as much as mine did and I hope you get a little quiet time out of it too!!

Macaroni with food coloring


                                                             Ahhh...peace and quiet!!

Here are a few more resources for sensory tubs:

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