Want mess-free fun? You got it, friend!
Inside this post, I’ll share exactly how to set up an easy, mess-free sensory bin for toddlers and kids that your kids will actually want to play with.
Full disclosure: I know that nature soup is not a novel idea.
In fact, you might be thinking: But, Katie? Don’t you just dump a bunch of flowers in some water and call it good?
Oh, no friend.
It’s not just about dumping “‘stuff” into a bin with water. Although, that kinda works in a pinch. Today, I’m sharing with you my trick for keeping a mess-free idea like this nature sensory bin going for hours even days.
Want to learn my trick?
It all starts by thinking about the Mona Lisa…
But, first? Grab your supplies.
Supplies For This Mess-Free Sensory Bin
- Large plastic bin or container
- Muffin Tin (not cupcake tin)
- Food coloring (optional)
- Bits of nature like flowers, herbs, leaves, etc.
THIS is when this post gets good.
Remember how we talked about how nature soup isn’t actually a new idea, but that it can still provide hours of fun for kids?
How to Make This Nature Soup Activity Last for Hours
I think one of the things that we do as parents (me included) is to set our kids up with something like a project, activity or whatever by prepping everything for them.
We do all the things!
- Collect the supplies.
- Arrange it nicely for them.
- Give them directions.
And, then our kids gobble up the craft or activity in 2.5 seconds.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve done this! I have too!
It’s just that this is what I’ve been talking about.
This is the missing piece that keeps kids from diving deeper into play.
Here’s where the Mona Lisa comes in…
Imagine that you’re about to paint the Mona Lisa.
She’s sitting in front of you with that wry smile and her eyes are magically following you everywhere (super creepy really). And, as you look at your art supplies, you notice that someone has already mixed up all the paints for you. They’ve even started to outline her shape on the canvas. And, you only have big, thick brushes available even though you really love working with fine-tipped tools.
You keep thinking…
Those are not the colors that I need!
I need a deeper blue and this pink is too bright for her skin. And, that shape? It’s not how you would have outlined her.
But, now you’re stuck.
You make do with the supplies that you’ve been given, but if you’re being honest? You’re just not that excited about painting the Mona Lisa.
This, my friend, is what can happen to our kids.
In an effort to set things up and to make things easier on them (*ahem* and easier on ourselves), we inadvertently take away our children’s ownership of their projects and activities.
So, how do you give kids ownership of their activities?
By including them in as much of the process as possible.
In the case of nature soup?
- Take them on a nature walk to gather the flowers, the herbs and let them sort everything into muffin tin.
- Let them watch as you fill the muffin tin with water and help find a place in the freezer together to freeze their nature collection overnight.
- The next day, let kids dye the water whatever color they’d like.
- Take out the frozen nature collection together and let them see if they can get the ice to pop out.
- Then, let them dump the ice into the water bin. Give them a spoon or scoop and step back while they play.
Get kids involved in every single step from beginning to end.
Because the project happened over a long span of time and because the kids were a part of every step along the way, this isn’t just nature soup….
This soup is whatever the kids imagine it to be.
That, my dear friend, is the trick to making any activity last more than 2.5 seconds.
- Include them in the WHOLE process.
- Give them tools without taking over.
- And, then watch them dream up a better soup than you ever imagined possible.
And, DON’T tell them what shade of pink to use for Mona Lisa’s skin tone. That’s totally crossing a line.