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Simple 4th of July Sensory Bin Using Recycled Materials

As much as possible, I try to use items I already have when creating play and learning experiences for Wild Thing and Caterpillar. When I shared 5 of our favorite ways to use milk caps for play/learning/art, I shared a Patriotic Sensory Bin that was in the process of being created. I am {finally} sharing our final product. What I loved the most was that I involved Wild Thing in creating the bin with me -- primarily through giving him lots of practice using his scissors, which (of course) he loved!
This is what we started with: red and blue straws, red, white and blue buttons, blue milk caps and blue circles from a game, 
red and blue foam sheets and magnet letters spelling USA, as well as a stray piece of blue leather. 
Before Wild Thing and I completed the process of turning what you see above into a sensory bin for he and Caterpillar to explore, we decided to also use this "bin-in-progress" as a craft bin and made 3 different flags on Flag Day: the flag for the United States of American, the flag for the Dominican Republic (which is where my husband's mother was from -- Wild Thing and Caterpillar's grandmother) and the flag for Thailand where my brother currently lives. We also made a Flag Day necklace too. This is not the greatest picture of our creations, but you'll get the idea. (We had not quite completed the flag for the Dominican Republic as it does not have the coat of arms, cross and mottos in the center). Our flag-making activity helped Wild Thing learn about flags and practice using scissors and glue. 

Finally, we were ready to complete our 4th of July Sensory Bin -- Wild Thing and I did decide we could spend $1 at the Dollar Store to enhance the bin. He picked out a package that had flags and cupcake liners in it. I also found a scrap of fabric in the laundry room that was red with white stars and some foam letter stickers and U.S. flag stickers, so I decided to stick those to the bottom of the sensory tray so that he could "hunt" for them as he explored the tray. To further encourage exploration, I added a large white spoon to the bin for scooping and transferring and tweezers for fine motor skill practice. We cut up some of the cupcake liners to add more stars to the bin and threw in just a couple of the liners as they were. 

Both boys really loved this bin. They especially liked to fill the cupcake liners up with items from the bin and serve me my red, white and blue cupcakes! Of course, they also enjoyed digging through the bin to find the stickers I had put on the bottom of it. 

I love this bin as a reminder of how simple it can be to create a playful, fun, learning experience at home with what you already have. (I loved getting comments on my milk cap post/pin about other ideas for the bin, such as cotton balls/white pom poms, shiny stars, etc.)  

Do you have a favorite play experience that you've made "on the fly" from at-home items or on the go from elements you happened to have on hand? I would love to see it! Please share! Sharing at Montessori Monday, Artsy Play Wednesday, and Hands On Play Party

You might also like: 
Simple Play: 10 Hotel Room Boredom Busters
Simple Play: Water & Nature

Magic Milk + More Art/Science for July 4th
Montessori-Inspired Sensory Tray


  1. I love upcycling this is a great idea :) I did a project this morning with olive cans thanks for the great ideas.

  2. Thank you for sharing, I posted a simple recycling project where we used old magazines and flyers to make a flag for 4th of July.

  3. My Sensory Seeker is going to love this idea - thank you for sharing on the Kids Coop - I will feature it this week.

  4. I love that you used recycled materials to make this inviting 4th of July themed sensory bin. How fun!


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