The inspiration behind this butterfly sensory bin was actually a package of pasta! I was at the store and spotted brightly coloured bow tie pasta. As soon as I saw it, I thought “those look like butterflies”. So of course I bought it so that I could make a butterfly sensory bin.
The pasta looks so much like little butterflies that the other butterflies in this sensory bin blend in with it. The kids enjoyed exploring with this activity.
Butterfly Sensory Bin:
- brightly coloured bow tie pasta in a variety of colours*
- clear silicone butterfly stamps
- butterfly shaped cookie cutter
- butterfly shaped foam piece
- small magnifying glass
- plastic butterflies from the butterfly Toob
- glow in the dark butterfly wand (I find a 3 pack of these at the dollar store)
*If you can’t find bow tie pasta that’s already coloured, you can buy regular bow tie pasta and colour it yourself. You can find a tutorial on dying pasta for sensory play here.
- Pour the dry pasta into a plastic bin.
- Add the other items.
- You can also add small cups or bowls as scoops.
- Invite your child to play!
This sensory bin provides visual, auditory, and tactile sensory input.
I always find it interesting the way that each of my kids approaches a sensory bin differently. This one was no different. One of our sons just scooped around in the bin, hiding butterflies and finding them and even mindlessly running his fingers through it to hear the sound of the dry pasta moving. One of our daughters took her time examining the butterflies with the magnifying glass while commenting on their features. She also enjoyed squishing the silicone stamps and foam piece.
Another of our daughters went about her play very differently. She carefully picked out individual pasta shapes and methodically built a large butterfly on the counter. She planned out the colours and had everything just so. Later, she brushed the pasta into her hands and put the pieces back in the bin.
Ways to expand this and make this sensory bin part of a unit on butterflies:
I bought the shaped foam piece that went in the sensory bin in a large pack. If you do this, you can use the remaining foam to have kids decorate their own. They can use glitter pens, markers, sequins and glue, or stickers.
Use pasta, beans, leaves, a twig, and paper plate to create a butterfly life cycle visual.
Raise your own butterflies. We did this one summer and the kids were absolutely fascinated. You can purchase butterfly raising kits that walk you through how to do this. My kids were in awe when the butterflies emerged from their cocoons.
Set out books about butterflies:
Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of ColorsHandbooks: Butterflies & Moths: The Clearest Recognition Guide AvailableButterfly Activity Book for Kids Ages 4-8My, Oh My–A Butterfly!: All About ButterfliesButterflies For Kids: A Children’s Picture Book About ButterfliesFrom Caterpillar to ButterflyThe Very Hungry Caterpillar