What is a sensory bin?
A sensory bin is usually a large bin or container filled with materials or objects designed to stimulate the senses. The box is designed with tactile objects that kids explore with their hands. You can use objects including water, sand, Pom Poms, water beads, rice and more.
What are the benefits of sensory bins?
Sensory bins are fun, but they are also a beneficial tool for early childhood development. Children enhance their learning skills when they are hands on. A sensory bin gives children the opportunity to touch, feel and explore many new objects. Each bin is different and will provide a different skill. Follow along to see some of my favorite bins and the benefits in each one.
How to you make a sensory bin?
- Choose a good container. I love to use a large container because my sensory bins are usually for two, but if it is for one you may want to use a smaller container.
- Choose a filler. I show a bunch of options below but some easy fillers to consider are rice, dried pasta, dried beans, pom poms and water.
- Add fun tools. This includes spoons, scoopers, tongs, funnels, bowls and water bead catchers.
- Complete with a theme. This is optional, but I love to include a theme for each sensory bin.
10 simple sensory bins
1. Water pond sensory bin
- Fill your container half way with water.
- Add 5-10 drops of blue food coloring to your water and mix.
- Add fillers and fun tools.
I absolutely love water based sensory bins. One because they are super easy to set up and two because they provide hours of therapeutic play. Water is calming and enjoyable to play with. I added the scoopers and funnels to increase the skill level. Scooping water is is great hand-eye coordination.
2. Taste Safe Sand
- All purpose flour
- Corn Syrup
- Vegetable oil
- Mini Construction Trucks or Mini Monster Trucks
- Large Container
- Combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup cornmeal. MIX
- Add 2 tbsp corn syrup and 2 tbsp oil. Mix
I loved this recipe because it was simple to make and it was taste safe. When I mention taste safe, it simply means if your little one happens to get a little in their mouth, it will be ok because all the ingredients are safe to be consumed. That means this sensory bin is perfect for all ages. I also loved this sand because it was good molding sand. If you rolled it into a ball or a hill, it would stay. It had the perfect consistency. This made for the perfect texture to add mini monster trucks. The girls explored a new texture and enjoyed the messy play.
3. Dish Wash Station
- Fill your container with water and add bubble bath .
- Add dishes and wash rags.
It is never too early to learn life skills like washing dishes. Just kidding, this was purely fun and sensory play. This is another bin that is so easy to set up. Playing with soap and bubbles is fun for any little one, we just added a functional skill into the mix. Scrubbing dishes works on bilateral coordination and fine motor skills. This bin also encourages problem solving and educational skills.
4.Muddy Animals Wash Station
- Large container
- Two small containers
- Cocoa powder
- Mini farm animals
- Scrub brush or recycled toothbrush
- In one container, combine cocoa powder with water and mix. (I did not use exact measurements)
- In the second container add soap and water
I would add this to the “life skills” category. Scrubbing muddy animals is a great way to teach little ones good hygiene and bathing skills. Brushing the animals is also great hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination and fine motor skills.
5. Taste Safe Finger Paints
- Add a couple scoops of yogurt to each bowl.
- Add a couple drops of food coloring to each bowl. One color per bowl.
- Mix each bowl.
Finger painting is a great activity for babies and toddlers. I love these finger paints because they are taste safe. Finger painting improves fine motor development and helps strengthen finger and hand muscles. This was also the perfect activity to work on color recognition.
6. Play Foam
Instructions for one color:
- Add one cup of water to your blender.
- Then add 2 tbsp bubble bath to blender
- Add 3-4 drops food coloring to blender.
- Blend on low speed for 1 minute or until thick and soft.
- Repeat steps 1-4 for a second color.
This play foam texture is a must try. It’s so soft, thick, colorful and smells so great! You can hide objects inside the foam or just put your hands inside and mix it around. Either way it will be fun all while engaging multiple senses.
7. Rainbow Rice
- Measure one cup of rice into a ziplock bag.
- Add one tbsp of vinegar.
- Add a couple drops of food coloring.
- Mix well inside the ziplock bag.
- Pour onto parchment paper, spread out the rice and let it dry.
- Repeat 1-5 for each color.
Rainbow rice is the most beautiful sensory bin. The colors are so vibrant and bright. I have used my rainbow rice for many activities. We turned it into a scooping bin filled with funnels, measuring cups and bowls and we also used it for a number hunt. The texture of rice is so much fun to play with and it sounds like rain when it hits the bottom of the container.
8. Taste Safe Sand
- Large container
- Food coloring
- Vegetable oil
- All purpose flour
- Baking sheet
- Unicorn toys
- Fake diamonds
- Mini scoopers
*Click the image below*
9. Garden bugs sensory bin
- Fill container with dried black beans
- Add fillers including insects, scoopers, magnified glass, flowers and tongs.
This sensory bin was so much fun. I have two little girls that are terrified of bugs (I blame myself), so it took some encouragement to engage them but once they felt comfortable they were very hands on. The tongs and catcher were great ways to increase fine motor skills. I was actually impressed with how well they used these tools. I was able to educate the girls on the names of all the insects and a little fact about each one. Then I would test their memory and see if they could find the insect I was looking for. My girls also loved scooping the dried beans and rearranging the garden flowers.
10. Ocean sensory bin
- You will need 24 hours to grow water beads
- Fill them inside the large container.
- Add 1 tbsp of water beads and 1 gallon of water.
- To fill a large container do 2 tbsp of water beads and 2 gallons of water.
- Drain excess water.
I absolutely love this ocean sensory bin. It is so calming, colorful and beautiful. Water beads are so great for sensory play. They are soft, squishy and colorful. This bin was also educational learning all the names of the ocean animals. The water bead catchers are great for fine motor skills.
**WARNING: Always supervise little ones during any type of sensory play. Some bins include small objects that are chocking hazards **
Check out this cute video that includes some of our sensory bins
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