Last year, we put together a “sensory play box” for Paige. It’s a Rubbermaid wrapping paper container that my Mom was getting rid of that we filled with all kinds of dried beans. I put in a few little toys to dig with and voila! an indoor sandbox of sorts was born.

She will sit in there for a good half hour just burying her feet, pouring out beans, and the like.

We haven’t yet had trouble with the beans going everywhere. I take her out before she gets too restless. I can tell when she’s getting sick of it. But it’s the perfect thing to pull out when she seems whiny and ready for something special to do.

It turns out that this kind of sensory play is vital for a child’s development. Since last year, Paige continues to use her bean box. Now, she puts lots of animal figures in there to “go swimming” or “boating”  or she practices her scooping and pouring. I’ve introduced tongs to the box so she can practice “biting the beans for the alligator.”  Sometimes we hide little things in the beans and she has the task of finding them. She is working on perfecting her pincer grasp by sorting white beans and brown beans into different bowls… there are lots of ways to use the box!

Paige’s therapists often bring little boxes of their own beans (a shoebox size) filled with little toys inside for play. I’ve also seen them bring little boxes of dried pasta tubes (like ziti or macaroni). Paige enjoys digging through these as well. When her little friends come over, the beans are always a hit. Even with her 6 year old cousin! It’s been well worth having around… who knew?

Have you repurposed any household items for sensory play or as a safe, unique distraction?