Our daughter received the most gorgeous sensory table for her first birthday. It was handmade by her Godfather, and it has become one of the most-used fixtures in our home. The table holds its proper place as the centerpiece of our living room, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the last couple of months, Stitch has shown a lot of interest in using the sensory bins. Prior to that, we pretty much strictly used the table as a play table. We’re enjoying finding different “fillings” for the table.

On Monday, Stitch had her weekly early intervention group, and they had switched out the materials in the sensory table in the classroom. I always like to make note of what they use to inspire future materials that we use. I commented that I hadn’t thought of using barley, and one of the moms was like, “Wait, you have a sensory table at home? Isn’t that messy?”

I responded, “Yes. That’s kind of the point.”

They all decided I was part crazy and part cool mom. I’ll take it.

Tuesday, Stitch decided that the five minute nap she had in the car on her way home from her Papa’s house was sufficient. I knew we were in for a rough afternoon if I didn’t hurry up and make a back-up activity plan. I let her play in her room for a few minutes and tore through our storage room looking for the box of cookie cutters I knew existed. There had to be some Valentine’s cookie cutters, and if only I could find them, we could have fun with the Play-Do for an hour or so.

Well, I found the box!

It turns out I had even more cookie cutters than I remembered. I decided we should switch out the sensory bins to something Valentine’s Day related. We had put up our Valentine’s Day decorations over the weekend, and I found some confetti in the box. I had set it aside for the sensory bin. A quick Pinterest search later (where I found this Quick and Easy Dyed and Scented Rice tutorial), and we had a plan. Bonus? We’d get to use the liquid watercolors I’d bought last week.

I buckled Stitch into her booster seat at the table, and we got to work.

We dyed two bags of rice—one pink and one purple. I was thrilled with how easy it was to use the liquid watercolors. And they dried so quickly! I added a few drops of lavender essential oil to each of the bags, then dumped them in a plastic tub to dry.

In the meantime, I collected the rest of the goodies for the bin. Here’s a list of everything we included:

We put everything in the bin, and Stitch basically hasn’t wanted to play with much else since. As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she goes straight to the table and starts asking for the cover to be taken off. And if we don’t comply quickly enough, she climbs under the table to point to the bins, just in case we don’t understand what she’s trying to ask for.

This combo has such a fun mix of textures and color, and the soothing scent is a lovely addition to the sensory experience. I hope this inspires you to have some fun with those Valentine cookie cutters you have!

Oh! And you don’t need a fancy sensory table to enjoy this activity. A sheet pan, cake pan, or large storage container would work too.

Have fun, and don’t be afraid to get a little messy.

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