100 Amazing Sensory Bins For Kids - Happy Toddler Playtime (2024)

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Sensory bins are a fantastic tool for kids’ play and development, offering a world of textures, colors, and experiences right at their fingertips. They’re not just fun – sensory bins can play a crucial role in a child’s growth, providing opportunities for exploration and learning in a controlled, safe environment.

What is a Sensory Bin?

A sensory bin is essentially a container filled with various materials that stimulate one or more of the five senses. These bins allow children to touch, see, smell, and sometimes hear and taste (in a safe way) different objects and substances. The aim is to provide a playful yet educational experience that enhances sensory processing, fine motor skills, and cognitive development.

Benefits of Sensory Bins

  1. Enhances Sensory Development: Sensory bins stimulate the senses – touch, sight, smell, and sometimes sound and taste. This stimulation is crucial for young children as they explore and understand their environment, helping to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
  2. Boosts Fine Motor Skills: As kids scoop, pour, grab, or pinch materials in the bin, they develop fine motor skills. These are essential for tasks like writing, buttoning clothes, and tying shoes.
  3. Encourages Cognitive Growth: Sensory bins can help children learn various concepts like size, shape, and volume. They also promote problem-solving skills and cognitive development as kids learn through experimentation and play.
  4. Aids in Language Development: As children describe what they feel, see, and do, they expand their vocabulary. Sensory bins also provide opportunities for parents and educators to introduce new words and concepts in a natural, engaging way.
  5. Fosters Play-Based Learning: Sensory bins allow children to learn and explore in a play-based setting. This kind of learning is crucial for young children as it is more engaging and meaningful to them.
  6. Supports Emotional and Behavioral Development: Working with sensory bins can have a calming effect on children. They provide an outlet for children to express their emotions and can be particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing issues.
  7. Encourages Creative and Imaginative Play: Sensory bins offer endless opportunities for imaginative and creative play. Children can create scenarios, role-play, and let their imaginations run wild, which is vital for their creative development.
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Sensory Bins 101

What to Include

  1. Rice: Colored or plain, rice is a classic sensory bin filler. It’s excellent for pouring, scooping, and shifting through fingers.
  2. Dry Beans or Lentils: These provide a different texture and sound, and can be great for sorting by size or color.
  3. Water Beads: These squishy beads are visually appealing and have a unique, jelly-like texture that kids love to explore.
  4. Sand: Regular or kinetic sand offers a classic sensory experience, perfect for molding, shaping, and digging.
  5. Pasta: Use different shapes and sizes, or even dye it for added visual interest. Dry pasta provides a crunchy texture, while cooked pasta offers a squishy feel. Find out how to dye pasta here.
  6. Shredded Paper: Colorful shredded paper can be a fun and lightweight option, great for hiding small objects within.
  7. Cotton Balls or Pom Poms: Soft and fluffy, these provide a gentle sensory experience, ideal for younger children or those sensitive to textures.
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Containers

Use anything from a large bowl, a storage tub, or even a dedicated sensory table. The size and depth can vary based on the child’s age and the materials used. See more below.

Tools for Sensory Play

  1. Tweezers and Tongs: Great for picking up small items, enhancing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  2. Scoops and Spoons: Useful for digging, scooping, and transferring materials from one place to another, fostering coordination and control.
  3. Measuring Cups and Spoons: Introduce concepts of measurement and volume, encouraging mathematical thinking.
  4. Funnel: Helps in pouring activities, teaching kids about gravity and cause-effect relationships.
  5. Small Containers or Cups: Can be used for sorting, filling, and emptying, which is excellent for cognitive development.
  6. Shovels: Perfect for digging in sensory bins with sand, rice, or beans, promoting imaginative play.
  7. Sifters and Strainers: Encourage exploration of textures and separation of materials, enhancing sensory discovery.
  8. Pipettes or Droppers: Great for water play, helping to develop fine motor skills and coordination.
  9. Magnifying Glass: Allows children to explore materials up close, fostering curiosity and observation skills.
  10. Toy Figures or Objects: Such as animals, cars, or dolls, to encourage imaginative and thematic play within the sensory bin.
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What to Use for Your Sensory Bin

  1. Storage Tub: Ideal for larger or messier bins.
  2. Large Bowl: Perfect for quick setups and smaller activities.
  3. Sensory Table: Great for regular sensory play and can be part of your child’s play area.
  4. Purchased Sensory Bin: These are ready-made options available in stores.

When it comes to sensory bins, the container you choose can be just as important as the items inside it. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of options available, each offering its own unique benefits and experiences. The key is to select a container that best suits the age of the child, the type of sensory play, and the space where it will be used.

One popular choice is a simple plastic storage bin. These bins come in various sizes and depths, making them versatile for different types of sensory activities. They’re lightweight, easy to clean, and can be stored conveniently. For smaller spaces or younger children, a shallow bin is ideal as it allows easy access while keeping the contents within reach.

For those who have more room or want a dedicated space for sensory play, a sensory table is an excellent investment. These tables are typically at the perfect height for toddlers and preschoolers to stand and play comfortably. Some sensory tables even come with sections or bins that can be filled with different materials, allowing for varied sensory experiences at once.

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Or you can purchase a dedicated sensory bin such as this one. They are great for storing sensory bin items but can’t a bit pricey.

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Large plastic under-bed storage containers can also be a great option, especially for more expansive sensory activities, like creating a mini beach or a small garden. Their low height makes them accessible for children to play while seated, and they can easily slide under a bed for storage.

Don’t overlook household items like large mixing bowls or baking trays. These are perfect for quick, small-scale sensory activities. A baking tray, for instance, can be an excellent base for magnetic or themed sensory play. Plus, it’s easy to set up and clean up, which is always a bonus for busy parents and caregivers.

For a portable and budget-friendly option, even a large ziplock bag can be used. Fill it with things like hair gel, glitter, and small beads, and you have a mess-free sensory bag that can be squished and pressed for tactile feedback.

Remember, the goal of the container is to safely contain the sensory materials while giving the child enough room to explore and play. Whichever container you choose, ensure it’s sturdy, safe (with no sharp edges), and easily washable. With the right container, sensory bins can provide endless hours of educational and exploratory fun for children.

Sensory Bin Tips and Tricks

  1. Always supervise play to ensure safety, especially with small objects.
  2. Start simple and gradually introduce more complex materials.
  3. Rotate items regularly to keep the sensory bin exciting and fresh.
  4. Theme your bins around holidays, seasons, or educational concepts.
  5. Use sensory bins as a calming activity to help children relax and focus.
  6. Incorporate learning elements like counting, color identification, or letter recognition.
  7. Be patient and let your child explore at their own pace.

When to Start Sensory Bin Play

Babies: Sensory bin play can begin in the baby stage with age-appropriate toys and materials. For babies, use large items that are safe for mouthing and easy to grasp. Examples include large, soft blocks or squishy toys in a shallow bin.

Toddlers: For toddlers, sensory bins should look much like sensory bins for babies but include more tools such as scoopers, spoons shovels. These bins help toddlers develop their fine motor skills and introduce them to new textures.

Preschoolers: At this stage, sensory bins can become more complex. Include materials like rice, beans, or water beads for them to scoop, pour, and sift. You can start to add slightly smaller items like pom poms and large beads.

Kindergartners and Older Kids: For these age groups, sensory bins can be themed for educational purposes like a ‘nature exploration’ bin with leaves, twigs, and stones or a ‘mini archeological dig’ with sand and hidden treasures.

Sensory Play Leads to Independent Play

Sensory bins are perhaps the one activity that I can set up for toddler that she is guaranteed to play with for hours and sometimes days. But the reason why I still set up sensory bins even if they are not always played with for hours is because 99.9% of the time after those 5 minutes of play, may toddlers will go and play independently on their own after playing with the sensory bin.

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Tips for Saving Sensory Bin Fillers

  1. Use large ziplock bags to store sensory bin fillers such as coloured rice or split green peas.
  2. Buy your supplies in bulk or at the dollar store to save.

Basic Sensory Bin Rules

When it comes to letting your toddler or preschooler play in a sensory bin it’s better to find a balance between letting them play and being prepared for a little mess and setting firm rules.o achieve that balance I like to tape down a large plastic table cloth underneath the sensory bin and play area.

That way when wayward rice fly out of the bin you don’t panic because cleaning it up is as simple as picking up the plastic table cloth and tossing it.

The other half has to do with making sure your little one understands the golden rule of sensory bin play: the fillers stay inside the sensory bin.

100+ Sensory Bins for Kids

Bug Sensory Bin

Dive into a bug-tastic adventure with our enchanting Bug Sensory Bin! Discover the wonders of nature in this hands-on play experience.

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Fizzy Ice Cream Shop Sensory Bin

Create this super fun and engaging Fizzy Ice Cream Shop Sensory Bin for your kids this summer (or anytime of year) using common household ingredients! This is an easy STEAM activity for toddlers, preschoolers and even older kids!

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Iceberg Sensory Bin

Dive into a chilly adventure with our Iceberg Sensory Bin, a hit in our household, especially during the winter months! My kindergartners were absolutely captivated, their imaginations running wild in this miniature Arctic wonderland.

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Rainbow Pouring Station Sensory Bin

Rainbow Pouring Station is one of those amazing sensory bin activities that your kids will absolutely love. And so will you! Why? It’s easy to set up, great for indoor or outdoor play and it involves one of the best sensory bin fillers around:water!

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Ice Rubber Ducks

This adorable and unique playtime will captivate your little ones’ imagination as they explore the magic of ice and water and rubber ducks.

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Pom Pom Seed Garden Sensory Bin

Rock Pool Water Table Sensory Activity

Get ready to embark on an exciting underwater journey right in your backyard with a Rock Pool Water Table Sensory Activity!

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Magic Sand or Hydrophobic Sand Sensory Play

Here we’ll explore hydrophobic sand sensory play and the magic and educational benefits they bring to your child’s playtime.

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Yellow Rubber Ducky Sensory Bin

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Fizzy Penguin Sensory Bin

Are you ready to create a miniature icy world that’s both fizzy and fun? Today, we’re going to make a Fizzy Penguin Sensory Bin!

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Pom Pom Pumpkin Patch Sensory Bin

The autumn season is in full swing, and what better way to embrace its charm than with a delightful Pom Pom pumpkin patch sensory bin?

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Bat Sensory Bin

Picture this: a cauldron filled with excitement, a night sky filled with no stars, and a troop of playful bats soaring through the darkness. No, it’s not the opening scene of a spooky movie – it’s the Bat Sensory Bin, a thrilling and educational activity that’s perfect for little explorers.

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Pumpkin Rice Sensory Bin for Kids

The essence of fall captured in a sensory bin – that’s the magic of this wonderful and easy Pumpkin Rice Sensory Bin!

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LEGO Car Wash Sensory Bin

LEGO Car Wash Sensory Bin is a fun and easy sensory bin activity that your toddler or preschooler is going to love! Let them build and then wash their LEGO trucks and cars in their very own carwash!

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Bug Sensory Bin with Taste-Safe Water Beads

Step into the enchanting world of insects with a sensational bug sensory bin that will captivate your little ones’ imaginations!

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Bubble Foam Sensory Bin for Toddlers

Here’s an easy way to make a bubble foam sensory bin for your toddler using just a few common ingredients you probably already have at home

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Fizzy Shapes Sensory Bin

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Autumn Tea Party Sensory Bin

Imagine sinking your fingers into a cool, crunchy landscape of unpopped corn kernels, feeling the light weight of dried leaves and the surprising heft of acorns. Now add to that scene a sprinkle of whimsy: miniature tea sets and baby pumpkins. Sounds dreamy, right?

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Colour Mixing Tea Party Sensory Bin

When I can combine one of my kids’ favorite toys with a fun learning sensory bin activity, that is always a win my house! Colour Mixing Tea Party Sensory Bin was just that activity!!

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Birds Sensory Bin

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Bug Garden Sensory Bin

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Pom Pom Kitchen

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Dinosaur Sensory Bin

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Frozen Pom Poms

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  • Magnetic Easter Egg Hunt
  • Birdseed Kitchen Sensory Bin
  • Water Beads in Mud
  • Caps Kitchen
  • Paint Sensory Bin
  • Megablok Painting
  • Megablok Washing
  • Stone Washing
  • Magnetic Treasure Hunt
  • Pom Pom Water Transfer
  • Pom Pom Sensory Bin and Colour Sorting
  • Water Table and Pom Poms
  • Oobleck and Leaves
  • Sticky Wall Pom Pom Drop
  • Pom Pom Scoop

Dinosaur Dig Sensory Bin

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  • Letter Washing Sensory Bin
  • Math Sensory Bin
  • Tea Bag Sensory Bin
  • Popsicle Colour Mixing Sensory Bin
  • Clothespin Letter Dig
  • Pom Pom Bubbles
  • Frozen LEGO
  • Yarn Kitchen
  • Alphabet Zoo
  • Magnetic Tubes
  • Feed the Squirrel
  • Frozen Caps
  • Caps Basketball
  • Icy Letters
  • Mars Landing Sensory Bin

Planting Trees Sensory Bin

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Clean Up the Ocean Sensory Bin

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Earth Day Sensory Bin

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  • Monster Oobleck
  • Oobleck Spider Rescue
  • Spider Web Rescue
  • Pumpkin Scoop: Halloween Sensory Bin
  • Halloween Eye-Spy Sensory Bin
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Sensory Bin
  • Turkey Dinner Rescue Sensory Bin
  • Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Sensory Bin
  • Fall Paint Sensory Bin
  • Fall Soup
  • Christmas Kitchen Sensory Bin
  • Easy Christmas Tree Sensory Bin
  • Santa Sensory Bin
  • Pom Pom Christmas Sensory Bin
  • Christmas Tubes
  • Magnetic Apple Sorting Sensory Bin
  • Fall Harvest Farm Sensory Bin
  • Apple Bubble Foam Sensory Bin
  • Fall Nature Hike Sensory Bin for Kids
  • Apple Picking Sensory Bin
  • Apple Soup Sensory Bin for Kids
  • Ice Kitchen Water Table: Summer Sensory Bin
  • Sponge Boats Sensory Bin
  • Fizzy Sun Sensory Bin: Summer STEAM
  • Diversity Beans Anti-Racism Sensory Bin
  • Super Easy Winter Ice Sensory Bin
  • Arctic Letters Sensory Bin

Even More Amazing Sensory Bins for Kids

  • 45+ Awesome Water Sensory Bins
  • 26+ Alphabet Sensory Bins
  • 40+ Non-Food Sensory Bins
  • Taste-Safe Sensory Bins for Babies and Toddlers
  • 40+ Fall Sensory Bins
  • 40+ Halloween Sensory Bins
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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have access to a vast amount of information on various topics, including sensory bins. Sensory bins are containers filled with materials that stimulate one or more of the five senses, providing children with opportunities for exploration and learning in a controlled and safe environment. They offer a wide range of textures, colors, and experiences that can enhance sensory processing, fine motor skills, cognitive development, language development, and more.

Here are some key concepts related to sensory bins mentioned in the article:

What is a Sensory Bin?

A sensory bin is a container filled with various materials that stimulate one or more of the five senses. These bins allow children to touch, see, smell, and sometimes hear and taste (in a safe way) different objects and substances. The aim is to provide a playful yet educational experience that enhances sensory processing, fine motor skills, and cognitive development.

Benefits of Sensory Bins

Sensory bins offer several benefits for children's development, including:

  1. Enhancing Sensory Development: Sensory bins stimulate the senses, such as touch, sight, smell, and sometimes sound and taste. This stimulation is crucial for young children as they explore and understand their environment, helping to build nerve connections in the brain's pathways.

  2. Boosting Fine Motor Skills: As children scoop, pour, grab, or pinch materials in the bin, they develop fine motor skills. These skills are essential for tasks like writing, buttoning clothes, and tying shoes.

  3. Encouraging Cognitive Growth: Sensory bins can help children learn various concepts like size, shape, and volume. They also promote problem-solving skills and cognitive development as kids learn through experimentation and play.

  4. Aiding in Language Development: As children describe what they feel, see, and do, they expand their vocabulary. Sensory bins also provide opportunities for parents and educators to introduce new words and concepts in a natural, engaging way.

  5. Fostering Play-Based Learning: Sensory bins allow children to learn and explore in a play-based setting. This kind of learning is crucial for young children as it is more engaging and meaningful to them.

  6. Supporting Emotional and Behavioral Development: Working with sensory bins can have a calming effect on children. They provide an outlet for children to express their emotions and can be particularly beneficial for children with sensory processing issues.

  7. Encouraging Creative and Imaginative Play: Sensory bins offer endless opportunities for imaginative and creative play. Children can create scenarios, role-play, and let their imaginations run wild, which is vital for their creative development.

What to Include in a Sensory Bin

Sensory bins can be filled with a variety of materials to provide different sensory experiences. Some common materials include:

  • Rice (colored or plain)
  • Dry beans or lentils
  • Water beads
  • Sand (regular or kinetic)
  • Pasta (different shapes and sizes)
  • Shredded paper
  • Cotton balls or pom poms

Containers and Tools for Sensory Play

The choice of container and tools for sensory play depends on the child's age, the type of sensory play, and the available space. Some container options include:

  • Large bowls
  • Storage tubs
  • Sensory tables
  • Plastic under-bed storage containers
  • Large ziplock bags

Tools for sensory play can include tweezers, tongs, scoops, spoons, measuring cups, funnels, small containers or cups, shovels, sifters and strainers, pipettes or droppers, and magnifying glasses.

Sensory Bin Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for sensory bin play:

  • Always supervise play to ensure safety, especially with small objects.
  • Start simple and gradually introduce more complex materials.
  • Rotate items regularly to keep the sensory bin exciting and fresh.
  • Theme your bins around holidays, seasons, or educational concepts.
  • Use sensory bins as a calming activity to help children relax and focus.
  • Incorporate learning elements like counting, color identification, or letter recognition.
  • Be patient and let your child explore at their own pace.

These are just some of the concepts related to sensory bins mentioned in the article. Sensory bins can be a valuable tool for children's play and development, providing them with engaging and educational experiences.

100 Amazing Sensory Bins For Kids - Happy Toddler Playtime (2024)

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