It's so easy, and the most entertaining part of preschool for almost every kid I've ever met. Sensory Bins!
All you need is a rubber maid container. Any size works, though one with a little depth and not too long is usually best. Kids like being able to "dig in"
Currently we're using a large storage tote that Gibbs had his CD's stored in previously..... I think they work just fine in a box though :-)
Add flour, spices, measuring cups, spoons, maybe a cake tin or two, and that's it!
Variations: We currently have "cloud dough" in our bin. It's 8 cups of flour, 1 cup of oil (baby oil for scent, but any oil works) It is sort of like moon sand. It is sifty like flour, but can pack together also.
Noodles. ANY noodles work. If you have cheap spaghetti noodles on hand, put them in! If you cook them first with a little food coloring, it's REALLY fun! The kids can sort by color, or just have fun with the new texture.
Of course my personal favorite: Water Beads! Found in the floral section of Walmart, or Michaels, they are so easy and really really amazing.
I get asked a lot from parents at preschool what we put IN the bin to entertain them...."What are they supposed to do in the sensory bin?"
Anything! Everything! Most kids just love digging around, getting their hands messy. Dumping, sorting, packing. I let the kids decide what they want in it also. If they want people in it, let them bring their dolls. If they want it to be a zoo, let them grab some toy animals.
Honestly, it's a little messy, but the hour you have to get stuff done without crying, whining, or fighting, is WELL worth the mess!