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Sensory Activities: Desert Sensory Bin

Sensory Activities: Desert Sensory Bin
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Sensory activities using a simple desert sensory bin

Engaging in sensory activities has always been my kids’ favorite and I’m sure they are your kids’ favorite too. What’s not to like? Manipulating the sensory base which could be anything from rice, beans , bird seeds to even shaving cream can be a wonderful experience which stimulates multiple senses.

My preschooler has been having fun with various sensory activities turned small world set ups of various animal habitats. She adored her sandbox savannah, South pole model and recently her pond sensory bin. When we started reading more about lizards she became very curious about other animals living in the same area. So we ended up gathering her desert TOOB and created a simple desert sensory bin. Sensory activities have always been THE best way to learn and introduce newer concepts for us. Just by playing and asking questions, I’m able to keep a fun and light conversation going with the child.

Please note that the following desert sensory bin is based only on the American South Western Deserts. Sorry no camels! I just realized we don’t own a camel figurine ( what a shame! and I’m pretty sure if we had a camel toy, it would have gone into the sensory bin anyway!)

Desert Sensory Bin Creation

We used corn meal as the base for the sensory bin. If you want it to be brown just add brown ( or red and green) powdered tempera paint to get an even color. I just had the cornmeal itself. I also created a simple terrain with large flat areas and sand dunes in the corners.I set our a few rocks and wood chips for added interest. Extra manipulative need not be used in a particular fashion. They were there simply to be used in any way that pleases the kid. I expected her to stack or create patterns or even make homes for the animals..It is cool that she actually did all those… She created her world with a specific play for each and every item in the bin.

We had lizards on logs camouflaging

animal activities - camouflage

There were scorpions under the rocks, snakes slithering under the desert sand..

We had mountain lions hanging out on the rocks and a coyote road runner face off. I told her about the old Road Runner show and she has been asking me to show her a video.

small world play idea desert

She even created a tent for the explorer camper.

small world play ideas

An explorer with a pet bob cat?

explorer in a small world

This sensory activity was a great way for her to have fun and learn more about the habitat. We talked about the characteristics and diet of various animals while pretending to be one. My kids and I took turns pretending to be an animal and were chasing around each other in the cornmeal bliss. The cornmeal base was perfect for us.

sensory activities with corn meal

In our household with my 4-year-old she is more interested in a small world play when she participates in the creation. She simply LOVES to create her own little small world when given appropriate materials. I’m hoping in a few months we will be able to even come up with even the materials needed to create a small world.

play with cornmeal

Do you think your child would love a desert sensory bin?

desert small world play

Affiliate link to the animals used here


Animal habitats sensory/small world we have shared

blogmemom earthday activities        SENSORY ACTIVITIES WITH POND

world animal day_southpole_food chain

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    • I had it in an air tight container for more than 6 months . Once it starts smelling bad you toss it. Depending on the weather in your place you may or may not get the same shelf life . I know warm weather places don’t get the same shelf life and are more prone to weevils and other bugs. If you have the space try storing it in the freezer to extend shelf life and to protect them from bugs.


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