Category: Family Activities & Outings

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

March is here! We celebrated by packing away our Valentine’s Day decorations and pulling out all of our favorite shamrock and rainbow activities. This afternoon, we switched out our Valentine’s Day sensory bin for another one of our favorites. This simple St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin combines a variety textures and lots of opportunities for fine motor play and math discovery.

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin | learning fun at home, sensory play ideas, invitations to play, activities for kids, gold coins, hands-on learning

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

A few years ago, we dyed a bunch of noodles green: rotini, wagon wheels, and seashells. The variety of textures gives young children the opportunity to compare and contrast, sort, and pattern while they play. Best of all, the noodles are larger than other fillers like rice and dried peas, which makes clean-up a breeze!

St. Patrick's Day Sensory Bin | learning fun at home, sensory play ideas, invitations to play, activities for kids, gold coins, hands-on learning

You can extend the play of this St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin by changing out the accessories every week or so. We started with plastic gold coins and a pair of green tweezers. We also have gathered these items:

  • green cups (these are our favorite)
  • orange and green silicone cups
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • ice cube trays

We love to take this sensory bin outside in the sunshine all month long. Hooray for spring!

If you try this St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Get five rainbow-themed activity ideas to help your child build attention span and independent play skills.

Just add your information below to get instant access to our FREE Rainbow-Themed Invitations to Play download!

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

Are you looking for a fun Valentine’s Day activity for your kids that doesn’t require glue or glitter? I learned a long time ago that I am not a crafty mom, but I am more than willing to set up open-ended play ideas for my kids! Sensory play has been a wonderful way for our girls to explore new tactile materials over the years. This simple Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin combines smooth textures and lots of opportunities for fine motor play and math discovery.

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I’m usually not a big fan of using rice because cleanup can be a giant pain. However, the varied colors in this Valentine’s Day sensory bin make it worth it! For this sensory filler, I left 1/3 of the rice white, and split the rest into two colors: pink and red. The best part of using colored rice is adding fun accessories like funnels and jars. The sound of rice filling up a glass jar is a wonderful sensory experience for all ages!

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin | activity ideas for kids, fine motor, colored rice, simple Valentine's activities, smart play ideas for preschoolers, fun sensory play, tactile activities, sensory bin fillers, learning through play

You can extend the play of this Valentine’s Day sensory bin by changing out the accessories every week or so. We love using heart gems from dollar stores and ice cube trays to practice one-to-one correspondence (counting). We also have gathered these items:

  • red cups (these are our favorite)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (we have had these for years)
  • and a stainless steel bowl, funnel, and jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also add magnetic letters or small heart-shaped foam stickers with letters written on them (see video below) for a literacy activity.

If you try this Valentine’s Day sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Get four more Valentine’s Day activity ideas to help your child build attention span and independent play skills.

Just add your information below to get instant access to our FREE Valentine’s Day Invitations to Play download!

Benefits of Baby Storytime

Benefits of Baby Storytime

So, you’ve just had a baby! Congratulations to your entire family.

If you’re anything like me, you may be wondering how you can raise your child to love books and become a lifelong reader. When our oldest daughter was a newborn, I read a wonderful book from Mem Fox all about the benefits of reading aloud to her each day. With our second daughter, I realized that there even more ways to bring early literacy to young children: sign language and baby storytime.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes

Our family loves attending programs at our library: LEGO time, guest lectures from local experts, and even adult coloring! Our favorite activity is storytime, and it has been since the time our girls were babies.

Here are the benefits of baby storytime:

  • Storytime is fun.

Entertaining a baby can be a tricky endeavor. Baby storytime gives you a screen-free break from being the “entertainer.”

  • You get new ideas!

Children’s librarians are experts in early literacy. They can recommend new and favorite books, introduce nursery rhymes, and share tips you can apply at home.

  • It’s a bonding experience.

Many parents have told me they would love fewer distractions during family time. Baby storytime is an opportunity for you to give your baby lots of snuggles, tickles, and eye contact.

  • You meet other parents!

Becoming a parent can be an isolating experience. Attending baby storytime at the library gives you a chance to connect with other families in your neighborhood.

  • It sets good habits for the future.

Going to the library for baby storytime teaches your little one that the library is a fun place to be! As your baby grows into an inquisitive toddler, you can introduce them to browsing for board books and taking them home.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes


Resources for You

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure here.)

You might also enjoy our printable booklist for babies:

52 Best Books For Babies | FREE Printable List from Rolling Prairie Readers


What if you can’t go to baby storytime?

Maybe you live in a rural area without a library nearby, or perhaps you have a medically-fragile child and can’t go to crowded places. In that case, we would love to invite you to our free, online story time for little ones! Bring your baby or toddler for songs, stories, and a little bit of sign language. Meet other parents and enjoy our online community.

Benefits of Baby Storytime | early literacy, child development, raising children, parenting, family activities, activities for kids, read aloud, finger plays, sign language, nursery rhymes