Make a toddler Zen tray for a calming sensory activity.
I’ll be the first to admit I have a complete addiction to sensory bins. Why? Because they take a hot second to set up and hold toddler attention spans for what seems like days (or long enough for me to have a cup of coffee in peace). It doesn’t matter if it’s a cute farm sensory bin, a scooping station, or a simple pool of beans, my toddler is just as in love with sensory bins as I am.
Our latest sensory bin love: a calming toddler Zen tray. It’s a softer take on one of our favorite sensory bins (the rice bin, of course). It’s been a magical sensory experience for my tot.
Creating a calming toddler Zen tray is so easy!
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The set up for our toddler Zen tray was as easy as one-two-three. I poured in a bag of rice (2lbs) into the tray. I smoothed it over and added a few paint brushes. The stage was set. My tot is exactly 3 and has been doing sensory bins since he was 21 months old, so he’s good with a tray that has such low sides. If your toddler is new to sensory bins, a storage tub with higher sides wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Since our definition of sensory bin usually involves dumping, scooping and roughly 100 toy construction trucks, I sat with my toddler for a minute and explained the purpose of this tray as a calming device. “This is meant to relax your body and make it calm.”
I was actually pretty stunned with his immediate connection to this activity. He was very drawn to sifting his hands through the tray and experiencing the calming feel of the rice.
He used the dry paint brushes as a way to draw shapes and figures – much like a traditional sand Zen tray that you’d see in an office.
Simple as it was the toddler Zen tray was a total hit for us. We’ve saved the rice (usually I can make a bag of sensory rice last six months or more) and will use it for other activities. This toddler Zen tray is going to be tops on my list next time I need a calming tool for a grumpy toddler.
What’s your favorite calming toddler activity?