Lately, I've been feeling that my son needs more to do during the day, and more to stimulate him. Not that I don't think he's having fun with, and learning from his cars (there's only 14 1/2 more years before he gets his license, he's got to practice!), books (who doesn't want to read Brainy Baby's Animals or Goodnight Moon twenty times each day?), blocks (you don't get a degree in architecture overnight), running around outside or at the park (Olympian in the making, here), or helping Mommy run errands (by carrying items through the store and flirting with checkout clerks.) It's just that on days we stay home, I sometimes get bored with our options, and I don't want to fall behind his curiosity.
Now, my son is still too young to participate in any craft with an end result in mind, so I've been looking for activities that are more about exploration. Enter the Sensory Bin.
I'm enforcing strict rules: the macaroni stays in the tub, and the tub stays on the blanket. As soon as he purposefully removes macaroni from the tub, we put it away.
On day two, he played with it half-a-dozen times, requesting it frequently throughout the day (by banging on the lid with his hand.) He wanted to play with it so much while I was fixing breakfast that I relented and put it in the kitchen, so I could keep an eye on him and make sure he was following the rules. It's been in the kitchen during meal prep several times since.
After the first few days its appeal died off a little, but he still wants to play with it just about every day. Sometimes he wants to play with it so badly that he'll try to spread the blanket on the floor himself. He's been practicing things like burying items or his (or our) hands, scooping and dumping from one container to another, and filling containers to the brim. He's even climbed into it a few times and buried his feet, and yesterday we showed him how to lodge macaroni between his toes (we're definitely NOT eating this macaroni!) I'm very glad we introduced it. I plan to change the filler material approximately every month.
I'm pleased to report that he's been very good about following the rules, even going so far as to pick up stray pieces that fall out as he notices them. I guess clearly defining rules before introducing a new activity, along with follow-through, is the way to go!