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Disclaimer: If your child has a nut allergy, this is not the activity for you. You are the best judge of what is safe for your child. This is also not an appropriate activity to do with a mouthing baby/young toddler as it poses a choking hazard.
After spending the past two years creating sensory bins out of anything and everything, I find that I see the world completely differently. I can't seem to dispose of food waste without wanting to explore it first! (For example, my weird desire to create activities with carrot shavings as seen in our Painting with Carrot Shavings activity and our Carrot Shaving Sensory Salad) So, when I was cleaning out the cabinets and noticed some expired almonds, I knew that they had a lot of life left in them as sensory bin fillers!
I had three containers of Emerald Almonds in Cocoa Roast, Vanilla Roast, and Regular. They all had different smells and slightly different textures which enhanced the sensory aspect. I added some pieces from our Ikea Stainless Steel Children's Cookware and Utensil Set as well as a set of tongs from our Little Tikes Get Out n' Grill Kitchen Set. I love mix and matching our toys to create unique sensory experiences. Kingston couldn't wait to dig his hands in!
Kingston sat down and immediately exclaimed, "These are lovely walnuts!!" I kid you not. This kid slays me! I explained to him that they were almonds and he dug right in exploring them. His first instinct was to use them in pretend play to create some almond soup for us to eat. He scooped them up both with his hands and the stainless steel ladle and transferred them to and from the soup pot.
Then he used the tongs to pick up individual almonds and bring them to the pot. This was a fantastic fine motor transfer activity. When he was done with that, he got the brilliant idea to add different animals. His choices were a dinosaur and a lizard! They made great soup additions, and we also pretended to feed each of them!
Such a simple sensory base spurred hours of exploration, pretend play, and skill building fun. When we were finished, I put all of the almonds into a bag to be played with again in the future. A much better use for these than the trashcan I would say!