Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tot School: Red, White and Blue Sensory Tubs

Rather than going to the effort of dying rice or noodles doing one red/white/blue tub, I decided to do 3 tubs this week - one for each color!
Red flowers, pompoms, gems, ball, manta rays, car, and foam circles, plus Rr and 4
Since I chose to start with red and go in order (Red, White and Blue!) I also chose an Rr theme. Plus I tossed in some 4s for 4th of July, which had prompted the color theme to begin with. So Red Rubies and manta Rays (from a sea life packet at Dollar Tree) to go with the Rr theme as well. I popped the flowers off a multicolored stem from the Dollar Tree (came with red, orange and yellow, and we also got one with pinks and purples. I saved the stem cluster, to let her try and fit them back on as a fine-motor-skills/hand-eye-coordination tray activity sometime.) The ball came from her ball pit, and the foam circles were cut-outs from some foam shapes that I turned into picture frames for a holiday craft. (She likes to pretend they are tomato slices in her play kitchen, so I started saving them from the V-Day and Xmas crafts.) The car is from her Little People garage.
I don't have any pictures of her playing with it, since she started it while I was in the shower one morning. And she tends to spread the contents out fairly quickly if I'm not on her to keep them in the tub or sorting tray.

"White Bunny," white mini tea set, pompoms,
Littlest Pet Shop kitty, and clear mini marbles
This one's not as interesting, and I dropped the Rr and 4 theme because I'm lazy it just didn't make as much sense with the white. Since she's been busting out her mini tea set ($2 at Fred Meyer) to feed beans to all her little dolls and Ponies and Pet Shops anyway, I decided to incorporate it. Plus I couldn't scrounge up a whole lot of white stuff.
We got White Bunny at the Dollar Tree. She saw it and HAD to have it. Until we stopped off at another Dollar Tree later that day and she found Orange Bunny. Exactly the same mangy little bunny, but in a sickly orange-yellow. All my pompoms are also from Dollar Tree. The red and white ones happen to be from a red/white/green/black set they carry at Christmas.
I found some mini clear decorator marbles at Michael's and they were heinously overpriced, but they gave me 25% off since the bag was ripped and some had fallen out. I originally got them for her marble maze, which I found at a garage sale for $1. Regular-size marbles don't fit, and it didn't come with any. So I was jazzed to find these. I had figured I'd have to go to a hardware store or something to find smaller ball bearings.
Her favorite part of the white tub was using the pompoms as food. She fed me loads and loads of "fluffy cake" and "cotton candy." 
As part of our white theme, since it was nice out that day, we also busted out her Moon Sand. I had found a barely used set at a garage sale last year for a few dollars that came with an inflatable play area to use it in, plus some sea-themed molds where the letters for the word of each shape form the design. So the "castle" mold has big and little letters stylized to make a castle. It's hard to describe. Anyway, it came with red white and blue sand. I just got out the white. I also busted open a basket of seashells from Dollar Tree and let her use those with it. I later added some of the white shells to her white tub theme.

White petals, blue necklace, snap-together people, foam squares,
pompoms, stringing beads and string
I had just found these white petals at a party supply store ($10/bag, but I had a $20 Groupon that I'd paid only $10 for, so I essentially got everything half-off!) I only used around 1/3 of the bag, so there were puh-lenty of petals for $10! I opted to switch out the beans for a few reasons. 1) I was tired of them. 2) I was tired of picking them up. 3) I thought the white petals would go well with the overall red/white/blue theme for the week, even though we were now on blue, and 4) I was really tired of those beans!
Pompoms came from a bold colors set from Dollar Tree, petals from Everything Party, and everything else from Target. The necklace was part of a 4-color set in the party favors section for $1.

The first thing she started doing was take everything out of the tub. I have a party tray I got from the Dollar Tree that I give to her for sorting stuff from her bin. This was the first time she actually sorted like-items into different compartments.
She sorted everything out of the bin.... to get to all the beads! She'd string them on as she found them, which made it more fun. Not just a dump-everything-out-fest.
(Ignore the mess in the background... I sure do!)
Red bin costs: $1 each for the gems, flowers, pompoms and manta rays. The beans and bin have been used before, so I'm not counting them. And technically, so have the gems. And the pompoms were bought ages ago for my crafting stash. The manta rays were part of a sea life set from Dollar Tree, which I bought in general for sensory tub supplies. I have a whole lot of stuff waiting in the wings now!
White bin costs: $2 tea set (which technically we've had for a few weeks, and wasn't bought to go into her bin,) $4-5 for the mini marbles (which I actually didn't even buy for her tub. She just dumped them all in after I bought them.) $1 for the pompoms (although as they came in the same packet as the red ones which I'd already used, it shouldn't count.)
Plus $1 for the sea shells, which went in after she played with her Moon Sand. I think the Moon Sand set was around $5. But I bought it last year, so I'm not counting it. Ross Dress for Less has some Moon Sand sets for $5-12 right now ($12-30 on Amazon for the same sets!) Didn't find any with an inflatable play area, but you could easily use a plastic tub.
Blue bin costs: $1 each for 2 packets of interlocking people, 2 packets of lacing beads, foam blocks, necklace and pompoms. $5ish (after coupon) for the petals.
Realistically, my total cost of stuff bought for all these sensory tubs is only $14. And that's for the stuff bought specifically to go into tubs. Not stuff I had bought for other purposes that I (or she) decided to toss in. And not counting stuff re-used from previous tubs (like the beans, or using a second color from the same packet of pompoms.)

Target's Dollar Spot has some great little sets for sensory tubs and activity trays right now. They had jumbo nuts and bolts, which I can use for color, shape or tools themes. Each color has a differently shaped nut and bolt head (triangle, hexagon, plus and square.) Great on an activity tray by themselves for matching color/shape of the bolt with the nut, and also great for screwing on and off practice. ("Lefty loosey, righty tighty!")
Also for $1 per bag, you can get 12 interlocking people. 3 each of 4 colors. The heads snap between the legs and the "hands" and "feet" snap into the elbows. They were kind of hard to slide in, I had to just jam them. But she was able to fit the heads into the legs no problem. Also great for color, circus, puzzle or people theme, or on an activity tray all by themselves.
There were also bags of plastic beads with laces in these same colors, but I had already dumped all the blue beads into the bin and didn't want to fish them out to take a photo. She really enjoyed finding all the beads and lacing them on to the string. That was her favorite part of any of the bins this week. Too bad I hadn't found them earlier in the week!
The blue foam squares also came from Target's Dollar Spot. There was a package with several shapes, each in a different color, that will be great for sorting activities, as well as shape and color themes. There were also foam clocks with movable hands, and some money, math and clock wipe-off worksheets. Fun stuff!

I plan on linking up to Tot School this Sunday (since I totally blew it and forgot to post the Sunday before 4th of July! Doh!)
Tot School


  1. Pretty sensory tubs, makes me want to play in them!

  2. I hope that they stock our Dollar Spot soon....none of these were there yesterday (actually pretty much nothing was there yesterday...it was pretty sad looking!). I've been wanting to do nuts and bolts for a long time.

  3. Love your sensory bins! Super Tot always loves ours, too. I need to make a new one for him!

  4. I love the little screw together sets!! I wish we had a Target :(. I like the idea of using petals instead of beans. My few bins all have pom poms because I'm tired of beans. I'll have to try the petals.


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