Your child will love playing with the colors of springtime with this easy-to-set-up sensory activity. Child learn through play about how animals camouflage in the wild. My kids used it for days in multiple different ways. I’m sure your children will love it as well! My process for setting up the activity is explained below, and follow-up activities that your child might enjoy doing with the same materials.
Materials Used for this Sensory Tray:
- Tuff Tray
- Acrylic painted filler materials (chickpeas, quick-cook steel oats, rice, and slip peas)
- Brightly colored glass gems (I bought mine from Michaels)
- Stones (also from Michaels)
- Faux succulents (also from Michaels, and they were 40% off)
- Tub of animals (Lakeshore Learning is where mine are from, my kids play with them every day!)
- Cars (My kids made them from unfinished wooden ones from Michaels $1 deals)
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Setting up the Sensory Tray
Using a tuff tray is the perfect size for this sensory bin since I wanted the kids to get to drive their new cars around the road I made. For younger kids, though, a smaller sensory bin will also work. I started with a round metal bin but realized I wanted to add animals camouflaging in nature. That is when I switched to the larger container.
Step 1: Make The Base Materials For this Tuff Tray
I had the kids paint their wooden cars from Michaels. We used various neon acrylic colors for this with sponges and various-sized paintbrushes.
Using acrylic paint, a zip-lock bag, and 8 oz at a time of the material to paint was the easiest way to create the base material for this tray.
Quick-cut steel oats and pink acrylic paint were used as a filler material. I added 1-2 tbsp of color and shook the zip-lock sandwich bag with about 8 oz. of oats at a time to cover with paint. Then I shook the bag for a minute and then opened it to check the coating. Lastly, I repeated this process until the desired look and color of the material was achieved.
To make other materials, like chickpeas repeat the same process as before.
Try using 5-8 drops of food coloring and 1 tbsp vodka to dye rice instead of painting it. I shake the 8 oz. of rice the same in a plastic bag.
In order to dry the materials before using them, I layer paper towels on cookie sheets and then empty the painted material on the towels.
Step 2: Gather the materials for the Sensory Bin
Gather other materials for the bin. I went through the closet to find other materials I already had that could be used for this container. I only knew I wanted to make a road and use the new brightly colored gems and mini succulent plants, so I grabbed green painted chickpeas, green split peas, mixed blue rice, and rocks.
Step 4: Assemble This Spring Tuff Tray
Laying down the pink painted steel-cut oats into a winding road pattern was the next step. Then I added the green split peas and green chickpeas to surround the road.
Brightly colored glass gems were added to border the road to make it easier for the kids to see the road and hold back the material. The ending mix of colors and textures is colorful and beautiful. We use it now for letter tracing, examples of this are found at the end of this article. The combination of materials is perfect for that activity.
There was a significant gap in the top of the tray, and I realized I didn’t use the mini plants yet, so I used the black stones to prop up the succulents next to the tray’s grass area. This was perfect to finish the area next to the horizon line on the bin.
Next was adding the blue for the sky. I used a blue, purple, white mixed-colored rice combo I have had for months. It’s my favorite mix. That now has added pink into it after this play was done.
Step 5: Finishing Touches for Spring Tuff Tray Sensory Idea
Just adding the two painted cars didn’t seem enough of fun for the kids, so I grabbed animal figures to add throughout the tray that would be perfect for talking about camouflage and springtime colors in nature. I grabbed books related to colors in nature and camouflage and had a finished tray ready for playing with in the morning!
Step 6: Playing
The kids instantly started driving the car around the pink road and tried finding animals throughout the tray. They used the truck to add different materials and checked capacity of it endless times.
My daughter wanted to collect all the gems and make something with them, so I built her a butterfly and flower. She then filled in the butterfly with the filler mixture.
ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY IDEAS:
- Counting using animals
- Sorting color
- Try a walk with your children in nature to find different colors
- Making patterns with the glass gems
- Let your child use their finger or foam paintbrush to form letters in the end mixture
- Plant flowers with your child
- Discuss the word camouflage and then play hid and seek with animals in the landscape of the tray.
Colorful Animal Books That Connect With This Sensory Bin
- DK Animal Colors Flip Book
- Planting the Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
- Mixed- Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
For more sensory bin ideas please see my other sensory bin ideas here.
Please see my other articles for more learning fun for your little learner if you enjoy these ideas.