Spring and Summer are the perfect time for picnics! But what can you do if there’s a rainy day?
Well, you can always have a regular picnic inside (boring!), or why not try creating this picnic play sensory and letter-sound bin for your kiddos – for sensory fun and learning!
Today’s post also contains links to FREE printable picnic food and letters!
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Supplies for Picnic Play Bin
- 2 small colourful plastic or paper plates, bowls, and cups
- 1 small drink pitcher
- a couple of picnic napkins
- green and yellow coloured rice (see the bottom of this post for instructions on how to make – don’t worry – it’s SUPER easy!)
- lemon or orange scented essential oil or food extract (optional: to stir into yellow “lemonade” rice to add a nice scent!)
- plastic ants (these MADE our bin!)
- a small magnifying glass
- a pair of salad tongs
- a colour copy of the PICNIC letters printable (click here to download)
- a colour copy of the picnic food pictures printable (click here to download)
- Optional: a variety of other “picnic-y” type things like ketchup/mustard bottles, fake food, small plastic utensils (we used cocktail forks)
Picnic Bin Setup
Spread your green rice over the bottom of your sensory bin (we use an old baby bathtub!). Sprinkle in some pink rice if you like. Add your utensils, tongs, condiment bottles, etc.
Put your yellow rice into the “lemonade pitcher.” Arrange your dishes and napkins attractively! I placed some of the printable picnic food on the plates, as well as some little guests!
To make the “PICNIC” letters more durable, I laminated them myself using adhesive cover sheets from the dollar store. By the way, the printable also includes the word “BASKET” for your picnic pleasure!
Onetime was chafing at the bit to get into this bin. As soon as he saw me dyeing the rice, he wanted to know what I was putting together, and when he heard “picnic sensory bin” he could barely wait!
The first thing he did? Dump the entire contents of the lemonade pitcher onto the bottom of the bin. Too funny! Eventually, he scooped it back up and began “pouring drinks.” He really liked the fruity smelling rice – we used orange food extract because I didn’t have lemon, but it worked!
After a little while, Onetime finally noticed the play food and started creating little meals on the dishes for me.
The specialty creation of the day? “Ants on a bed of rice!” Yeuck! (as my son likes to say when confronted with a vegetable he doesn’t like…)
I told you those plastic ants MADE our bin a success! Onetime had so much fun adding little “ant” touches to all the foods he created and served – including drinks!
After lots of time just exploring the rice and sensory aspects, and “playing picnic” – I drew Onetime’s attention to the letters and we sounded out the word PICNIC together.
I told him that there were objects in the bin that started with many of the letters in the word, and we had some fun searching for those objects and matching them up to their letter.
For example, we had peaches for P, an ice cream cone for I, and cookies for C (all on the food printable). Many of the foods on our printable match letters in the word “BASKET” so you could have “PICNIC BASKET” letters in your bin as well if you like!