The other day, I was clearing out the baby's closet and I came across our old container of beans. We had used them many times with our oldest son, but this exploration bucket got put away when I started watching other kids. I was too nervous to have beans out with so many kids. Now that most of the kids are a little older, and I'm a little more experienced with bigger group, I felt we could handle the challenge :) So I pulled it down and we got to work exploring.
(NOTE: This activity requires CONSTANT supervision, especially with toddlers. The beans can easily pose a choking hazard)
For this activity you'll need:A large blanket or beach towels
A container with a lid to keep your beans
3-4 bags of various types of beans (we had Lima Beans and Black Eye Peas)
Small household objects to use with the beans (We used old cups from medicine bottles, extra bottles for pumping sent home from the hospital, spoons, ice cube trays, cups, small bowls, and cars, but the possibilities are endless. Next time, I plan to pull out the graduated cylinder and beaker toys that we keep in the bathtub.)
The kids had a great time exploring with beans: scooping, dumping, and manipulating the tiny beans. With the older children, I encouraged them to sort the beans by color and size. Then, we spent time counting the beans in our different piles.
This also turned out to be a great activity to reinforce sharing. Without my interference, the kids were happily sharing spoons back and forth and helping each other collect their piles of beans.
An hour later, I had to struggle to get the kids to clean up so we could go outside!
I call that a success :)