Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Two of my favorite classroom activities are sensory bins and task boxes. So instead of using worksheets for kindergarten science I decided to create task boxes all about life science for our life science study. This past year with all of the Covid restrictions and needing supplies for individual children I decided to make individual sensory bins for the children to use to study the topics of life science. Before playing with the items in the sensory bins my students were to complete the everyday life science task box activity. This provided motivation especially if the sensory bin was one that they liked.
My students could then use tools like tongs and scoopers to pull cards out of the sensory bins. This added an entirely new facet to the task box activities and increased their learning about life science. My students were excited to see what they would find in their bins each morning! These fun tongs are from Hobby Lobby. They always seem to have cute items for cheap when they are half off to add to my bins.
I have a lidded box for each of my students, this worked well for easy cleaning at the end of the week. I could leave the same bin for the child and change out the life science study task box supplies each day. Some of my STEM bins had multiple items to explore and others just had small items like ironing beads and cut up plastic straws in bright colors. Either way my kids enjoyed the variety of items they were able to experience.
Most recently I used my Animal Life Science Task Boxes to add fun learning opportunities to my sensory bins and they were a huge hit! Sensory activities for kindergarten are a HUGE part of learning for young children and these sensory bins did not disappoint. My kids loved coming into the classroom in the morning and exploring the different topics of life science I had for them. They had so many questions about life science that these were the perfect activities to spark that interest and answer some of those questions through hearing, seeing and touching. They loved hunting through the sensory bins for the study of life science cards to complete the task box and they also enjoyed having a few minutes to play with the sensory items once they were finished.
I use this time in the morning to greet each student at the door and say a quick hello to parents. With the use of the sensory bins my students are happy and occupied during drop off. These science activities for kids are always very engaging! I allow them to talk to each other and if they have a question they could ask a friend or raise their hand. They can also use the answer keys provided with these particular study of life science task boxes. I saw so much learning during this time. This was such a great extension of our direct teaching lessons in science, social studies, math and reading. I plan on making enough task boxes this summer to give them a variety of specific learning activities that we can use from the beginning of the year.
I started with some basic sensory bin supplies like ironing beads, colored rice/pasta, beans, corn kernels and the like but then moved onto items that could be used for further learning past the task bins. So I started adding a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) toys to the bins. My kids thought this was the best thing ever! Since we couldn’t share toys this allowed them time with toys they enjoyed and still allowed them a sensory experience. Below you can see one of my bins that is filled with STEM items. I have snowflake builders, round linking builders, buttons and shoelaces, plastic letters etc. This way once the child was done fishing out all of the task box pieces they could choose which item to start creating with or combine them to make unique creations that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to create. I am totally rethinking this method after seeing what my children came up with and how much learning took place with the mixed materials. For organization I will most likely keep the separate bins but may allow the children to take out 2-3 at a time instead of 1. We will see how that goes with groups of kiddos instead of individuals. I can only imagine how this could increase the love and learning during sensory activities for kindergarten.
You can see my Top 10 STEM list here!
When adding everyday life science task box cards to my sensory bins I tried to add some themed items as well when I had them. For instance when we were working on the Ocean I placed some small plastic ocean animals into the bins. For others I placed small real life pictures of the common animals to compliment the clip art pictures that come in the task boxes.
I always provided a fun way for the students to collect and connect the pieces to the working mat or to each other. So on top of fun tongs, tweezers and scoopers I would add clothespins, paperclips, links(I only hole punched a couple activities) and small gift bags for them to put their pieces in once complete. I would store the specific items with the task cards in the boxes. For the items I only had a few of I kept a basket on my back counter for easy cleaning and then I could easily place those items at each child’s seat.
Above are some of my favorite supplies to add to my task box sensory bins. With the exception of the glue dots which I used to assemble my task boxes. The most popular are usually the tongs and I was surprised at how many of my students took it upon themselves to use the plastic letters to try to spell the animals names!
Interestingly enough one of my kiddos favorite science for kindergarten activities task boxes was the ocean habitat matching box where I had taken small magnet dots and stuck them onto tongue depressors. I then put large paperclips on each card and they were able to use the station magnetically. He would ask for this specific box all the time, so much so that it got the others interested and became the favorite box in the whole set! You can see that I used buttons again since I have a ton of them and added these cute spike balls that I found in the dollar spot at Target. The kids love the feel of them and they increased engagement for our kindergarten sensory activities about life science.
Once we were all settled and ready to begin the day each student gathered up all of their materials for the task boxes and placed the box on the back counter. They then took their sensory bin and placed them into their cubbies for the week. I would take my task box cards out of the rotation for a few days and clean the sensory bin items on Friday afternoons while the class was in centers. This worked out very well. I had little to no complaints of wanting to change buckets or not liking the buckets they were given.
My sensory bins came from Target Online School Supplies last year and I did buy them with lids so I could easily stack them. They are the perfect size, not too big and not too small! My task boxes are from Michaels and I wait for a coupon or sale to get a good deal on them because they can be expensive. Before I invested in the actual boxes I would put all of my pieces in plastic baggies. Baggies were also good for storage since they took up much less space. Sterelite has several sizes of latching boxes that would also be great for these sensory bins. Pencil boxes are a little small but could also be used when the budget for supplies is low.
To mix things up a bit I printed out the study of life science pieces and mats in black and white on regular paper and placed them into the bins. I had the students get out their supplies so they could glue and color. One of my students had a sensory bin filled with sequins and proceeded to “decorate” her paper. I had not anticipated that but it was beautiful and she had so much fun! Giving the everyday life science bins to them this way every once in a while was a much bigger hit than I thought it would be! It also gave me a concrete piece of evidence to assess learning and mastery of our life science study.
I loved watching my students enjoy working with these fun topics of life science task boxes and sensory bins. They learned and solidified so much more information throughout our study of life science than I think they would have otherwise. My students now know all there is to know about life science and building with STEM materials. They are always so creative, thinking of ways to use items that I never would have come up with!
Get your copy of my Animal Everyday Life Science Task Boxes by clicking on the image below. They not only include 50 animal study of life science activities but also have tons more ideas included for fun sensory activities for kindergarten!