What exactly is bear soup? It’s imaginary play for preschoolers that combines plastic toy bears and water for the perfect water sensory bin activity for kids. And if this is your first time seeing the colorful counting bears, buckle up! They are a staple of our childhood that bring unexpected joy to kids.
Imaginary play such as this and these 50+ Preschool activities act as the building blocks of learning that unlock creativity.
Why imaginary play is important
One of the most remarkable things about children is that they can use their imagination without fear of someone claiming it as a bad idea. Preschoolers can transform rocks into cars and plastic bears into soup. Why? Because children are play experts.
The important role for caregivers and educators is to provide opportunities such as this imaginary play idea and then step away.
Remember, children are play experts. But they need time and space to start and return to the ideas multiple times to build play schema.
If the first imaginary play setup doesn’t do what you had hoped it would. Practice, continue setting up opportunities, and you will see growth.
RELATED: First sensory bin? Here is how to set up sensory play for kids.
We LOVE love these counting/sorting bears. They are the perfect addition to sorting activities and preschool play.
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Sort them by color, separate them by size, or integrate them into imaginary play. WE LOVE THESE BEARS!
This 40 QT bin is a simple way to inspire more sensory play at home with kids. Here is why sensory play is important.
Setting up imaginary water play
- Add the counting bears to the sensory bin.
- Put water in a large pitcher for the child to pour.
- Add a variety of items from your kitchen. Here we like to use plastic spoons, plastic water pitchers, strainers, and old pots.
- Visit my collection of outdoor sensory supplies.
I favor water games for kids because they typically have less mess and are easy to clean up.
How to bring water play inside
We set up our sensory play on a large plastic shower liner. This way, there is room for a little mess that is super simple to clean up. The secret to successful sensory play is finding the activity that works for you as a parent and also for your child.
Once my three-year-old and four-year-old are finished playing, I hang the plastic shower liner over the deck and let the sun do the rest. After drying, I fold it and place it back in the storage box for the following day.
This three-minute setup and four-minute clean-up are worth the 35 minutes of collaborative decision-making and creativity.
How to be flexible with imaginary play
Remember, it is time to step away and watch the play unfold from afar. Perhaps Bear Soup transforms to Rescue the Bears. They are both important. Allow your child to take the lead.
My boys scooped, poured, and strained until they declared they were finished. When they come in with wet clothes, I take them off and toss them into the washer. Easy, breezy.
Who has time to search for ideas?
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Water games with kids are easier than you may think! Often, items from your kitchen, such as measuring cups, large spoons, and a muffin tin to freeze water, will do the trick. Keep water activities for kids simple, and look around your house to see what you can toss in to buy yourself a few extra sips of coffee as your child plays. Here are 35 winning water games for kids.
The main thing I consider with sensory bins is texture. I use it as an opportunity to introduce new objects that taste safe and are not a choking hazard depending on my child’s age and stage. Our favorite sensory fillers are beans, water, rocks, and kinetic sand (not taste-safe). Here is how to introduce the sensory play to kids.
Find the counting bears in my under $25 toy list for kids. I use these bears both in the classroom and at home. Sort them by color, separate them by size, or integrate them into imaginary play. WE LOVE THESE BEARS!