Japan Unit: Zen Garden Sensory Bin

For each of my country units, I like to have a sensory bin or small world play – I believe that imagination is one of the greatest assets of childhood and hope to instill this in my kiddos.

For our Japan unit, I thought a miniature zen garden would make the perfect inspiration for my sensory bin. A zen garden, often known as a Japanese rock garden or dry landscape garden is a careful composition of rocks, water features, moss, pruned trees and bushes over gravel or sand that is rakes to represent ripples in water. Historically, zen gardens were created at Buddhist temples and were intended to imitate the essence of nature, not it’s actual appearance, and served to aid meditation regarding the true meaning of life.

I decided to use my rough play tray, and filled the bottom with sand.

Next, I added a couple moss covered rocks – to make these I mixed spanish moss with craft glue and covered small stones. I let them dry overnight and they turned out perfect!

I added a couple more rocks, sticks, and some faux greenery I had in my craft supplies.

I didn’t have a rake, so I decided to make one from craft sticks I had in my craft supplies (one good reason to keep the odds and ends I had laying around, right?!)

I used a slightly thicker stick for my handle and the T-part. I cut 1″ pieces of a thinner stick to use as the tongs on my “rake”

I glued it together with a hot-glue gun, and finished it by wrapping a little string around the base to keep it all together.

I think it turned out pretty cute, don’t you?

I used my rake to make some “water” designs on my Zen Garden.

Not going to lie, this really made me feel pretty relaxed! My kiddo loved playing with it too – however she rearranged much of it and the final result wasn’t very zen-like. But hey, she’s only three. 🙂

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