This project has been on the top of my list for "Back to School" for quite some time. It's making a sensory center from scratch using common items easily picked up at your local home improvement store. First off-- credit and special thanks to Mr. Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasbord for his inspiration-- and more importantly-- his instructions for completing this project.
The materials needed are shown above. They are PVC pipes (any size works), but I got the 1 inch-width kind, a number of PVC pipe connectors and a bin (not pictured). In addition, you see some spray paint and a PVC pipe cutter. I didn't have one of my own, so I picked it up for about ten dollars. It cuts the pipes very easily! There's orange spray paint and what I thought was a clear fix spray to prevent the paint from chipping. Turns out it was a white glaze, so I turned my newly painted orange sensory center back into a white one--oh well, it happens! For the complete set of directions and list of materials, please click HERE to get sent over to The Kindergarten Smorgasbord.
Here's the completed frame before the bin rests in it. I pretty much made the dimensions match the bin's size and the height match the average height (from memory) of my first and second graders. I didn't use any glue at the points of connection, but I'm sure you could to be extra safe.
With it being Halloween and all, I used spiders, skulls, bones and eyeballs to fill my sensory bin. The rice is dyed with food coloring. To do this, simply place some rice in a zipped plastic bag along with a few teaspoons of rubbing alcohol and your food coloring. Shake it up and add more food coloring and alcohol if needed. Leave it to dry over night in flat pans covered with aluminum foil to prevent you having to wash the pans when you are done...no clean up = awesome! You can also use the same method to dye pasta. Other fillers I have been saving are green and red bow tie pasta for December as well as white styrofoam peanuts for January. Click HERE for 13 of Mr. Greg's sensory bin ideas throughout the year.
Here is the completed project in my classroom. I cut up an orange pool noodle to keep the bin sturdy. Mr. Greg said this step was optional. I like it. It's orange along with most of the things in my classroom.
I used witch fingers and candy corn clip art (free from TpT) to make my center activities. With the fingers, the students sort them according to true and false equations. Get them HERE. With the candy corn, the students need to find the mystery number to make the equations true. Get them HERE. My mathematicians love this so far. It really is fun to sift through, calming in a way for may of them too!
I hope you feel as inspired as I was to make one of these over next weekend.