Sensory Bins 101

April 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Over the years, we’ve had a lot of fun with sensory bins. A few of my little loves are sensory-seeking (often craving sensory input of all kinds), so these bins can be a super interesting way to get them what they need. The great thing about sensory bins is that the possibilities are absolutely limitless. Some are better enjoyed outside, but having an oversized high chair floor mat on hand is helpful for uncooperative weather. Then the inevitable mess can be folded up and dumped back into the bin.

Obviously, children who might eat the sensory materials need to be watched closely, but these bins are an awesome way to occupy time. I like to use these Sterilite containers for my bins because they stack easily for the materials that can be kept on hand. But any plastic bin will do. Sensory materials can be found all over the place – from outdoors, craft materials, and pantry items.

water beads

coffee beans



Here are 50 sensory bin ideas:

1. Water beads (a favorite)
2. Moon sand
3, Mini marshmallows
4. Moon dough
5. Rice (plain or dyed)
6. Shaving Cream
7. Tinsel
8. Coffee beans (a favorite)
9. Play dough
10. Fabric scraps
11. Shredded paper
12. Beads
13. Feathers and cotton balls
14. Play sand
15. Corks
16. Dyed spaghetti
17. Craft pom poms
18. Dried corn kernels
19. Easter basket grass
20. Glitter
21. Dried beans (any kind)
22. Baby oil
23. Packing peanuts
24, Kinetic Sand
25. River pebbles
26. Sea shells
27. Acorns
28. Split peas
29. Loom bands
30. Aquarium gravel
31. Assorted dried pastas
32. Sugar cubes (for building)
33. Snow
34. Rocks or small stones
35. Dirt (organic potting soil)
36. Bird seed
37. Straw
38. Legos
39. Ice
40. Play foam
41. Aloe vera gel
42. Buttons
43. Cornmeal
44. Tinsel
45. Polyfill pellets
46. Oobleck
47. Jello (set in a plastic bin)
48. Epsom Salt
49. Cut up straws
50. Sticks, leaves, grass

Many parents like to create “themed” bins for a season, holiday, color, etc. I usually don’t have my supplies quite that together, but there are some very interesting ideas all over Pinterest. I do like to keep extra measuring cups, spoons, etc. on hand though.

Also, many other toys work well as additions to these bins – mini dinosaurs and animals, trains, cars, play plates, bowls, cups, funnels, etc. A lot of these supplies can be purchased at the dollar store. Likewise, simple craft supplies found in the discount sections are perfect to stock up on. I try not to spend a lot of money on the bins, though some supplies are worth investing in. A few of the bins can be stored and brought out for quick entertainment, although many of them require more time to put together and won’t keep well.

The whole idea is to create sensory activities that my kids will enjoy and have fun with!

Find My Family: Jade

April 28, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

Jade has resided in a foster family since birth. She is fond of playing with other kids, and shares toys with them. She pays attention to keeping clean, she likes wearing pretty clothes.


Jade was born with a cleft palate which was repaired in 2009. She has delayed language and cognitive development. She goes to first grade in Special education school. She respects the teachers and is polite. She likes to write, color and draw. Jade is described as somewhat quiet and shy. She enjoys outdoor activities but also sometimes prefers watching TV or listening to music. She is designated to Carolina Adoption Services. Contact CAS for more information.

I Never Felt Called to Adopt

April 27, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments

I never felt called to adopt.

For me, adoption was simply the way God chose to build our family.

In 2011 we adopted our son Sean who is now seven years old. In 2013 we adopted our daughter Elliana who is now five. When people first started saying that adoption was a beautiful thing for me to do, I wasn’t sure how to respond. The adoption process certainly didn’t feel beautiful. If anything, the avalanche of paperwork made it feel clerical. It wasn’t until our first trip to China that I started to see the beauty of adoption. And as much as I love my son Sean, my change of heart had little to do with him.


While Sean was in China, he lived at a foster home in Beijing. He lived on the main campus for a year before being placed with a loving foster family nearby. One afternoon during our adoption trip, Kevin, Sean and I had lunch at the foster home cafeteria. As we sat down, I noticed a five year old boy named Bing at a nearby table. Bing was in a wheelchair patiently waiting for his foster dad to return with their food. Bing watched us for a moment with a small smile on his face. Then he quietly said in Chinese, “Sean’s got a mommy and daddy.”

He said it to no one in particular. He might not have even meant to say it out loud. It was as if his deep longing for a family spilled out of him in words.

“Sean’s got a mommy and daddy.”


He was happy for his friend, but his heartache was unmistakable. Like Sean, Bing had foster parents who loved him deeply and gave him exceptional care. But even the best care by substitute parents couldn’t erase his longing for a family of his own.

“Sean’s got a mommy and daddy.”

Until that moment, I didn’t think much about the profound loss that an orphan feels. After that moment, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I saw it on Bing’s face in the cafeteria. I saw it in the fatherless boy who called my husband ‘daddy’ and jumped in his arms. I saw it in the six year old girl who squeezed into our family photo, and in the two year old boy who pulled me toward a swing and asked me to push him too.

As joyful as I was to be with my son, my heart ached for the ones who still waited. Not just at Sean’s foster home, but the 153 million orphans worldwide. After seeing Bing, I realized it didn’t matter whether or not I felt called.

I am called.

I am called to take up the cause of the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17). I am called to give justice to the poor and the orphan. I am called to uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute (Psalm 82:3).

I am called.


Because I was that orphan. Without God, I would be Fatherless. Without Christ, I would be destitute. Without the promise of His Kingdom to come, I would be left wondering how I would ever find Home.


Almost two years after our initial trip to China, Kevin and I returned to adopt Elliana. Once again I had people tell me that adoption was a beautiful thing. This time I agreed. Adoption is beautiful — not because of what I’ve done for my kids, but because of what God has done for me.

“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you…
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:18, 27

– guest post by Michelle

Xia Waits

April 26, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Xia will turn six years old in May. She is outgoing and active-she’s described as an extrovert. Xia likes to play with other children, listen to music, and watch TV. She likes toys with bright colors or toys that play music. Xia attends kindergarten which she enjoys. She turns her homework in on time and …Read More

When Jesus Tells You What To Do

April 25, 2016 by nohandsbutours 2 Comments


A Hot Mess This week I got into a conversation about these two big ideas called expiation and propitiation. Sounds fun, right? Don’t worry, I’m not going to open up the discussion here. It’s really boring unless you’re a theology nerd. For sure, it’s an important doctrine, but how important? Important enough to argue over? …Read More

Find My Family: Theo

April 24, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments


Theo was placed in his foster family at birth in May of 2014. He was born blind, and has had two eye surgeries in December 2014 and September 2015. Due to his blindness he is not as comfortable with new people, but he enjoys being held and interacting with his foster mother. He can walk …Read More

Countless Possibilities

April 23, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a mom. After all, my own mom was the best mom in the world… a woman who loved her girls unconditionally and fiercely. I always wanted to be just like her. As most of us know, life isn’t always how you wish it would …Read More

Blessings in Disguise – My Journey with Sensory Issues

April 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 5 Comments


If you ask most of my friends what their first memories are, they might say something like…“first baby dolls” or “bike rides.” Mine all have one thing in common – a feeling of fear and being out of control. One of my very first memories was standing in the nursery of a small church while …Read More

Find My Family: Edward

April 22, 2016 by nohandsbutours 0 Comments

HAC photo1

Edward is a 3 year old sweet little boy who resides at one of Nightlight Christian Adoption’s 1-2-1 orphanages in China. His special need is Down syndrome. Edward is very outgoing and is always happy to meet someone new. In general his caretakers say that is very adventurous and is always exploring new things in …Read More

“I hope you can help me find a family soon…”

April 21, 2016 by nohandsbutours 1 Comments


Dear Uncle and Aunt, I am very happy to write this letter to you. My name is W____. I’m thirteen years old. I study in the senior class here, and my favorite class is Table Tennis. I desire to be adopted by an American family. When I see some other children going abroad, I really …Read More

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