April 7, 2013

Insect Sensory Bin

Last fall we did an insect unit for JZ's kindergarten.  During the study I put together an insect sensory bin for all four boys to explore.  I love when I can include Tank and Peanut (then 15 months) in our learning activities.

The base for this sensory bin was made from used coffee grounds.  I picked them up from our local Starbucks.  At most locations they have a bin labeled for use in your garden.  If you don't see a bin, just ask a barista for some grounds.  The coffee grounds looked and felt like dirt, but they smelled like coffee - yum!

Tank and Peanut played in the sensory bin and delighted in finding the insects and other little creatures among the coffee grounds. 

As always, Tank took a little taste.  He wasn't a fan of the used coffee grounds.

One of the reasons I set up sensory bins to go along with our units is because young children learn best through play and child led exploration.  Another reason is to bring what we are studying to life.  While playing we discuss facts, and JZ (5) shares what he remembers about what we have already learned.  During our insect unit we focused on the difference between a spider and an insect.  JZ learned that insects have six legs and three main body parts: a head, a thorax and an abdomen.

For this insect sensory bin I bought a pack of bugs and creepy crawlers from the dollar bins at Target.  In addition to insects there were spiders, centipedes and other bugs.  JZ pointed out which were insects and which weren't.

After distinguishing between insects and non insects JZ and J-Bug (3) played with the sensory bin for over an hour, squishing the coffee grounds through their fingers.

Other sensory bins made with coffee grounds:

For more ideas follow my sensory activities board on Pinterest.

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Other ideas for learning about bugs:


  1. I never knew you could get used coffee grounds from a coffee shop. We're not coffee drinkers, so that's great news! Thanks for the fun sensory play idea.

  2. Very cute. I love this idea! We are studying insects right now!

  3. Allison, thanks so much for sharing this at Stress-Free Sunday. I loved this sensory bin, as well as your explanation of why sensory play is so important. :) I imagine the coffee grounds smelled delicious.

    Mary Catherine at Fun-A-Day!

  4. I love this one! My son loves the smell of coffee, and adding insects would be the icing on the cake, so to speak.

    Thanks for sharing at the Outdoor Play Party - hope to see you there again next time.

  5. Thanks for sharing. This is so much fun! I am featuring this on iGamemom.com Mom's Library round up. http://ow.ly/k9OKx Thanks for visiting Mom's Library!


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