Creating a Valentine’s day sensory bin is absolute February perfection. Using dyed rice and dollar store materials, the Valentine theme comes to life for toddlers and preschoolers. Bonus: this sensory bin can be saved for years of future Valentine’s.
Making a Valentine’s day sensory bin is exactly what we needed to up our February game.
While this bin might look fancy. It might look gorgeous. You might thing “ugh that’s so complicated.” I get it.
But I need you to hear this:
This Valentine’s day sensory bin is made out of supplies from the Dollar Store.
RELATED: Looking for more quick and easy Valentine’s Day activities? Check out this list!!
Looking for more structure each day?
Check out Playing Preschool: Busy Toddler’s 190-day at-home activities program
Valentine’s Day activities for cheap
This activity is proof that Valentine’s day activities do not need to cost a lot.
Most everything here is either recycled from my previous sensory bins or from the dollar store.
Plus (and this is a huge plus), these supplies can be packed up after Valentine’s Day and reused again and again. Update: I created this sensory bin four years ago. We still use this set up. Now that’s what I call cost-effective.
There’s always this myth floating around that kids need fancy activity – they don’t.
Activities need to be engaging. Activities need to be child-centered. Activities need to be simple.
Overwhelming activities (especially sensory bins) with too many fancy supplies will actually do the opposite
RELATED: Need more information on sensory bins? Check out my blog post on them.
How to dye rice
If you haven’t made “Rainbow Rice” yet….let today be that day.
Now, I know you may be rolling your eyes at the idea of dyeing rice. I know I did. Until I finally tried to dye rice and realized it takes less time than brewing a pot of coffee. No joke.
Here’s the standard recipe for dyeing rice:
- 1 cup dry white rice
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- Lots of squirts of food coloring
This is the basic ratio for dyeing rice. From this recipe, adjust for the amount of rice you need or have.
I created red, pink, and purple rice. I did 3 cups rice for each color (so 3 tablespoons of white vinegar for each color).
Put the rice and vinegar in a plastic bag or sealed with a TON of squirts of food coloring. After smooshing it all together, I laid the rice to dry for 30 mins on a cookie sheet.
This rice will last years! No – but really. It will. Make sure to store it in a resealable air tight bag or container.
RELATED: What are kids learning from sensory bins? I have a post that explain all the benefits.
Supplies to add to the Valentine’s Day sensory bin
Here’s how I made this Valentine’s Day sensory bin – it was so easy!
- Colored rice
- Miscellaneous Valentine items from the Dollar Store
- Ice cube tray (they sell these at the Dollar Store too)
- 2 plastic scoops from the Dollar Store
Like I said – this was one easy and cheap activity to put together!
Simple play set ups often promote more play than complicated ones. It allows space for the child to come up with ideas and narratives, or to add their own supplies into the bin.
RELATED: How did I teach my kids to keep sensory bins clean? Find out here.
What kids do with a Valentine sensory bin
A Valentine’s Day themed-bin seemed like the perfect activity for my 3 and 5 year old: they created Valentine “soups,” they sorted materials, they buried hearts, they imagined being Valentine chefs…
I left this bin out for the whole Valentine’s “season” – it was a great space for them to bounce back to as they played around the house.
Here’s a list of skills they were practicing during this play:
- Imaginary play
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope! Once the rice is dry, the color is locked onto it. It won’t transfer to little hands.
Yes! There are a few. First: the vinegar is NOT part of the binding process in making rainbow rice. It’s purpose is to keep the rice “fresh” and bugs out. You can swap the vinegar for lemon juice or hand sanitizer, or you can make rainbow rice with liquid water color.
I don’t, but my friend Lauren from Happily Ever Elephants does. Here is a link to her list of Valentine’s day books for kids.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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