5 Reasons Every Homeschool Should Use Sensory Bins


Sensory bins have been a huge thing in many classrooms for the last few years, but especially for homeschoolers. However, not everyone uses them if they don’t believe their child has sensory issues. As a homeschooling parent you should definitely be using these in your homeschool regardless of sensory needs of your children. These reasons below are just the beginning of why you should begin using sensory bins for your homeschool classroom.

Are you using sensory bins in your homeschool? Here are 5 great reason why you should! hsbapost.com

5 Reasons Every Homeschool Should Use Sensory Bins

Encourages classification understanding.

Learning about classification applies in multiple parts of education. Sensory bins are excellent for children to understand how to sort, separate, and recognize items. They are a great way to have children sort colors, textures, like items, items that don’t belong, and even shapes. Since classification matters in math and science so much, it is a great tool not just for younger children but also grade school level classroom work.

Helps kids use all of their senses.

The senses are part of exploration, knowledge, and learning. Sensory bins obviously help your kids use all the senses, but this is also a super fun way to encourage them to recognize what senses they are using. Encouraging them to not just experience the sensory bins, but to note what senses they use to separate items and classify them is a great way to help them to really think outside the box. Kids don’t often think about how they are using not just their eyes to see food, but their sense of smell and taste to determine what something is. The same thing goes with their sense of touch and smell when they are working in a sensory bin.

Encourages calming in active children.

Kids that struggle with ADD, ADHD, or simply have a hard time focusing can really benefit from learning through a sensory bin. It gives them something hands on to touch and play with while they learn. You can even easily give your children sensory bins to work with while you are going over lessons, reading or asking them questions about what you have been covering. Utilizing a sensory bin throughout the classroom is great for kids who tend to struggle with staying still and concentrating. You can easily help them focus on the lesson by providing a sensory bin that is applicable.

Helps to incorporate all subjects in one location.

Sensory bins are amazing tools to bring all of your curriculum into one simple place. You can add math, science, history, and even language assignments all inside one bin for your kids to learn more about one subject. These are especially nice for unit studies on specific subjects or ideas. Choose items for your sensory bins that fit into each subject if possible. You can use counting, sorting, specific historical items for a subject, and even special specimens for science to create a great sensory bin that encompasses all of your class work in one location. You can take a look at the simple sensory bin we used in our ocean-themed study before our field trip to the aquarium. It was a great way to tie all of those learning concepts together!

Helps kids to follow directions.

If your kids struggle with following directions, sensory bins are an amazing tool. By giving them specific things to look for, sort and separate, you can easily create a manner of following directions that they will enjoy. This is really important as they move into other subjects where following directions impacts how they come up with an end result or answer. I love giving my kids a list of items to sort out or directions on how to use the sensory bin for our classwork. This keeps them occupied, learning and working on that direction following problem they often have in the early years.

Using sensory bins throughout your homeschool classroom will be a great way to help get your kids the hands-on education they need. It gives them an easy outlet to use their hands while learning, and allows them the sensory opportunity that many children need to truly understand concepts.

Do you use sensory bins in your homeschool?

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Sara (148 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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Thinking About Special Needs


Growing up it was quite rare for me to come into contact with an individual that had special needs. As I’ve gotten older it has become much more prevalent. There are many who believe that children today are misdiagnosed with disorders such as ADHD/ADD, sensory disorders, or even autism. Some diagnoses today I don’t even know what they mean by the term. Other special needs we can readily see, such as Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.

Before you get defensive, I’m not stating that these children do or don’t have whatever they are diagnosed with. For the purpose of this post, it really does not matter if they do or do not. Rather this post is about understanding what it means when a child or adult is diagnosed with a disorder, of any kind. What matters is how you react to the child and their family.

Thinking About Special Needs -- how to support homeschool families with special needs. hsbapost.com

It is human nature to shun what we don’t understand; to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. One reason I think I did not have contact with special needs children or adults while I was growing up is because they were not included in the general activities as all the other kids. They instead were kept to a room or building where others “like them” could be taught and cared for. {This also isn’t a post about whether that is right or wrong, then or now.}

Nowadays there is a much stronger push for inclusion in schools and so society in general may be getting a more realistic view of what it is like for those with special needs. Those children in those classrooms see that the child with special needs struggles with sitting still, talking quietly, learning to read, working on math, etc.

It is amazing how many homeschoolers I have come into contact, in real life but more through online correspondence, who are working with children with special needs. It is tough! But at the same time, those families are learning something that other families may not be learning: what it takes to step out of yourself for the sake of another.

By that statement I am not saying that homeschooling families of children with special needs are superior to other homeschooling families. But you would be shortchanging them if you made a statement that they don’t have more of a struggle. They require a strength that some others do not possess because they have never had to work that part of themselves because they do not have special needs in their lives.

So what I’m proposing is for us to put ourselves out there for those families with members with special needs. Take time to support the entire family.


  • Ask questions to better help understand the situation and circumstance.
  • Be humble.
  • Offer support that will be beneficial to the child and family (be careful to give support that is not self-serving).
  • Take time on your own to research the particular needs so that you can be better equipped to help the family as they need it.


  • Do not be belligerent or tell them that their child (or other member of the family) doesn’t have whatever diagnosis that is stated.
  • Don’t tell the family what they should do for their child or situation. Offer humble advice that is based on relevant experience and understanding of their situation.
  • Don’t avoid the family because you don’t understand the needs. (See “Do” list.)
  • Do not take it personal if the child or parents do not want to talk about their situation. Each person and family are different. Respect their space and them as people.

What are some specific ways we can support those with special needs? Does your family have special needs? If so, what are some of the ways others can help you?

North Laurel (35 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel's Musings.

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Evaluating Learning Gaps


Evaluating Learning Gaps in your Homeschool. hsbapost.com

Homeschoolers can become confused and frustrated by the unevenness of learning, and seemingly gaping holes in their child’s understanding. When you wonder if you’ve finally met your match because your kid is just not getting it. Or you’re subjecting yourself to all kinds of guilt because maybe your kid should have been evaluated by a professional for a learning disability after all.  And the worry that this particular delay or issue doesn’t fall within the parameters of “normal”. Oh the anxiety produced when we second-guess ourselves and doubt our ability to recognize our child’s needs! And all too often, we are subjecting ourselves to much of that anxiety because we are comparing ourselves and our kids to others or to an unrealistic standard.

Now, I’m not saying that learning disabilities and challenges aren’t real. As Leah explained in “Does Your Child Need a Special Needs Label?” there are cases in which a formal evaluation and diagnosis can be very helpful in addressing a child’s specific needs. And I add my encouragement to parents to trust their own instinct and knowledge about their child as to whether pursuing a diagnosis would be a wise move.

The reality is that even kids without a special needs label can experience a real difficulty in one subject area even though they do fine, or excel in others. It’s also a reality that kids can hit a roadblock in their learning that slows their progress significantly, even though they don’t have a specific learning disability that is causing their slowdown. If you’re puzzled by a student that is surging ahead in some subjects and stymied by others, or seems to be completely stuck in understanding a concept, how do you handle it?

Let me offer two suggestions to combat the worry: Put the problem in perspective. Resist the temptation to compare unrealistically.

Most importantly, I believe you need perspective on the problem. Is this roadblock another piece in a puzzle that is starting to look like a special need or learning disability? If it’s something that’s part of a bigger picture that your gut says you should pay attention to, then do what you need to do. But it’s also possible that your child just needs a little extra time or a different approach. Try to look at that big picture. As an example, one of my students learned letters and phonic sounds easily by first grade, but then seemed to hit a wall when it came to sounding out words of more than three letters. A word like “spill” would come out as “slip” even though the sounds were in the right order when done individually. We were getting nowhere fast in second grade reading. And I worried. I worried because an older sibling had learned to read almost effortlessly, so I was sure that either I was doing something terribly wrong, or this child had a learning disability. Turns out I was exaggerating. When I did some research and consulted a good friend who was an early education specialist, I found out that a child’s mental ability to put together the “puzzle pieces” of something they understand into a bigger picture develops anywhere between five and eight years old. Was my child dyslexic? Quite possibly, but since he had never reversed numbers or written numbers or letters backwards, it didn’t seem as likely any more. So I relaxed and waited, and sure enough, that child learned to read.

As students get older, and move past the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, you may find that a kid that is going along great guns in every subject except one that they just don’t seem to grasp. The problem can become something akin to a special need during the high school years when subject areas overlap or one is dependent on another. A student that struggles with reading comprehension will be slowed down in almost every subject. A student that struggles with math and is “behind” grade level in that area will have a really tough time in the sciences that are so dependent on formulas and equations. I’ve got a student that does great in every subject area except math. And I can sympathize, because I’m somewhat math-challenged myself! This is where homeschooling can be such a blessing, because we can keep working at finding the curriculum and resources that make math understandable, without sticking a “remedial” label on it. We can keep working to interest and ability in the subjects that are strengths while finding workable solutions for learning the things that are not coming easily.

There will be learning gaps and uneven places in any education. Gaps where information was missed, and gaps where one concept or skill was elusive while others were mastered. Uneven places where learning moved quickly in one area but stumbled along in another, or where some subject areas had to be put on hold until the student could catch up in another area. Homeschooling offers the benefit of being able to adjust course for the uneven places, and come up with individualized solutions for filling in the gaps as we recognize them. This very ordinary – yet very special – need for overcoming an individual struggle is one we’ll all face at some point in our education.


Kym (15 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.

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