We love the developmental benefits that sensory bins offer for all ages. If you missed our article about the benefits of sensory bins you can check it out here.
Now let's get started building a sensory bin!
The best thing about sensory bins is that there are THERE ARE NO RULES! You can make them as simple or extravagant as you want, and you can use items you find around the house. The most important thing is that all items in the bin are age-appropriate and safe for your child.
You don’t need much to create an engaging sensory bin! You can find everything you need right in your home, no purchases necessary. Here are four easy steps to building a sensory bin.
1. Find a Large Container
Find a container that is safe for your little one to play with, that has low enough edges for them to easily reach inside. There are so many options: a cake pan, cookie sheet, plastic storage bin, or a cardboard box. We recommended a bin with a lid so you can easily put the bin away neatly and retrieve later. For this reason, a lid also makes clean up much easier.
2. Choose a Filler as Your Base
You can get really creative with what you use as the main filler for your bin. Anything that can be scooped, picked up with tongs, that you can hide items in will work. You can also find inspiration from themes like zoo animals, dinosaurs or colors. Don’t overthink it, start by using something you already have at home.
Fillers that work well:
- Rice - you can even color your rice for extra fun, but keep it simple at first.
- Noodles - you can use cooked noodles to create a sticky flexible texture. Or you can avoid the mess and use uncooked noodles, which can also be reused. We love shaped noodles that you can sort by color or shape.
- Sand - you can make edible “sand” with crushed cereal or graham crackers. Or keep it easy and leave the cereal whole. For older kids, kinetic sand works great!
- Jello - Jello is always a crowd-pleaser, especially with younger children. Throw some toys into the jello and let it set for them to dig out later. Keep in mind your bin will need to fit in the fridge for this one, or cool it in separate containers each with different colored jello!
- Water - We love this simple filler for quick setup when you need to set something up in minutes!
Remember to avoid fillers that may pose a choking hazard, or that young kids will want to stick in their nose or ears!
3. Materials or “Treasures”
Materials, or “treasures” as we call them, are the items that will be hidden throughout the filler for the kids to find, pick up, and sort. Toys and craft items work great as treasures. Think animal figurines or pom poms.
Tools are the instruments kids can use to scoop the filler and sort the treasures. Any spoons or cups will work.
- Spoons or scoops
- Cups or measuring cups
Let your creativity take the lead and try not to overthink it. If you are still feeling a little intimidated start SMALL. Try pouring some rice into a bin and throw in some smaller toys like wood puzzle pieces or animal figurines. Add a kitchen spoon and a little cup or bowl to use to dig around. Now sit back and watch the magic happen as they begin to play and explore.
Pro tip: place a disposable table cloth or towel down for quick and easy cleanup.
Not sure if you have time to create a sensory bin from start to finish? That’s okay! Here are some pre-made sensory bins that are a great start.