Virtual Book Club: Kevin Henkes

I am very excited about this month’s Virtual Book Club author, Kevin Henkes. He has written and illustrated many wonderful books (including Caldecott winner Kitten’s First Full Moon). Today, I will be featuring a Four Seasons Sensory Bin that I developed based on his imaginative picture book Old Bear.


In Old Bear, a bear hibernates for the winter and dreams that he is a cub again experiencing the seasons of the year. The seasons are full of colorful imagery: butterflies made of leaves, blueberries raining from the sky, and stars of all colors. At the end of the book, he wakes up to the vibrancy of spring, almost forgetting that he is no longer dreaming.
I decided to recreate the picturesque seasons in Old Bear by creating a Four Seasons Sensory Bin (perhaps this will remind you of my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom sensory bin Guest Post on Make and Takes).  Using four inexpensive drawer dividers from the dollar store and common household materials, I created a separate sensory bin for each season based on the book.
Really this idea could be recreated using any materials that you happen to have sitting around. I used a variety of inexpensive seasonal items from the dollar store, household items, and items from nature. To add texture, I used colored rice as a background for each bin (Note: I used vinegar instead of rubbing alcohol with food coloring to color my rice since my children are small.) I also decorated the insides of the bins with seasonal stickers.
Spring: Old Bear emphasizes the colors and flowers of spring, so I used green and blue rice and artificial and real flowers.
Summer: The bear sees blueberries raining out of the sky (I used real ones which I’m not sure was the greatest idea because the rice stuck to it a little, and the baby got carried away and started trying to eat artificial leaves. Blue beads would be a great alternative for older kids.). I recreated the “butterflies made out of leaves” with some leftover artificial leaves and pipe cleaners. I also was sure to add a daisy for the sun. The artificial flowers I bought provided plenty of extra “grass” and “leaves” for this bin as well.
Autumn: Everything is “yellow and orange and brown”, well I added red too which was sort of an accident (hopefully Kevin Henkes won’t mind) but I do think it gave the bin a pop of color. I was lucky enough to find a little ornamental red bird and some red and yellow fish stickers to complete Henkes’ autumn scene. Nope, I didn’t have any orange, yellow, and brown water. I figured that would definitely be overdoing it.
Winter: Winter was the easiest of all with white rice, confetti stars, and star stickers.
My kids enjoyed playing in the bins and feeling all of the different textures. They ate the blueberries and smelled the flowers, and we talked about the four seasons of the year while we played. Not only was this activity a fun book related sensory experience but it was also a great way to teach about nature in the process.

If you liked this activity, be sure to also check out my Old Bear themed Four Season Sensory Bottles which are great either as a follow-up activity to the bins or as a lower mess version of this activity for teachers and librarians.

Now it’s your turn to link up and check out activities based on Kevin Henkes books. The link-up will be open all week, so you still have time to post an activity before the link-up closes. If you link up from No Twiddle Twaddle, be sure to let me know via the comment section so that I can give you a special shout-out from my Facebook page and Pinterest.
First, be sure to stop by some of my co-hosts’ blogs and check out their activities:

Tomorrow I’m excited to be hosting my very first giveaway ever with the prize being Old Bear. Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for a chance to win. (Enter Old Bear giveaway here.)

Don’t miss out – join me online on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest.


  1. says

    I love your sensory bin! Never thought of doing 4 separate parts but that’s a wonderfully creative idea. The 4 seasons stand out so vibrantly. Love it!

    • says

      Thanks, Carolyn. They did (though I admit that the blueberries posed quite a distraction. They were way more interested in eating than playing!)


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