ice cream sensory bin

The BEST 22 Sensory Bins For Kids

Want to know my secret on how to help your child learn, have fun, and provide them with hours of entertainment?

 

Sensory bins!

 

Out of all the activities that I post and do with my little ones, sensory bins are my favorite.

 

These bins are created in a medium to a large-sized plastic container. Sensory bins are filled with small objects or materials that allow kids to discover, design, and learn while engaging the senses!

 

Each of the sensory bins that I create has a specific theme to them. I have compiled a list of The BEST 22 Sensory Bins for Kids to help you learn how to make of these at your home!

 


Food-Themed Sensory Bins

I have done a ton of sensory bins, and my favorite ones to set-up are the food-themed sensory bins!

 

Some of these play ideas are edible, while others are not. It’s important to note; please make sure your child is old enough for these activities so they don’t try to eat things that they shouldn’t.

 

Before I dive into our favorite food sensory play themes, I wanted to make a list of fillers to work well in these bins.

1. Rice

2. Pasta

3. Beans (black, lentil, chick)

4. Cereals (fruit loops, cocoa puffs, cheerios are some of our favorites)

5. Pudding

6. Oats

 

Activity #1: Rainbow Dyed Pasta

 

I’m not going to lie. I was intimidated to make rainbow pasta.

 

On Instagram, people post their beautiful pictures of rainbow pasta/rice. I thought it would be too time consuming and difficult. Since I decided to do this sensory article, I thought, I’ll give it a try. If it’s rough, I’ll stop and not include it. Guess what? I AM SO HAPPY I DID THIS!

 

rainbow pasta activity

 

How long do you think it took me to make this bin?  10 MINUTES. The longest part of creating this bin is waiting for the pasta to dry.

 

How to dye pasta:

 

1. Materials you need: liquid watercolors, several different types of pasta, and parchment paper.

 

liquid watercolors

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2. Dump most of the box of pasta in a large ziplock bag. Add in a generous amount of liquid watercolors in the bag.

 

3. This will be your child’s favorite part! Make sure to close the bag and shake until the colors cover all the pasta!

 

4. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper (for easy clean up) and dump the pasta onto the sheet to dry!

 

5. Liquid watercolors tend to dry quickly, which is a good thing when you have eager hands ready to play! After about a half-hour, they should be good to go.

 

6. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about the colors of the rainbow, how a rainbow forms, and work on color sorting by adding bowls and scoops!

 

I did this bin during March, so it was near St. Patrick’s Day, that’s why you see the pots of gold and gold coins, but this activity can be done without those!

 


Activity #2: Colored Rice

 

Colored rice is another fabulous sensory filler. We tend to have rice on hand a lot, so it’s one of my go-to’s when coming up with fun sensory play bins.

 

colored rice sensory activity

 

One thing I didn’t mention earlier on is that colored rice and pasta stay good for A LONG time, which means that you can play with it over and over again. Even though it takes a little prep to do, it’s nice that you don’t just have to throw it away!

 

How to color rice:

 

1. In a ziplock bag, pour 2 cups of rice and whatever food coloring color of your choice! I added in a bunch to make the colors turn out nice.

colored rice

 

2.  Make sure the bag is closed and shake well!

 

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the colored rice onto the paper (this will help with clean-up). Let the rice sit there for 2 hours or so, and it should be dry!

 

4. Dump the dry colored rice into a bin, and you are all set!

 

fine motor tools

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Tips for this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- rice, measuring cup, and food coloring.

 

2. This bin was done in February close to Valentine’s Day, so I added in some festive heart baking cups and scoops.

 

3. Help your children learn with this bin by adding in some fine motor tools like scoop scissors, tweezers, and scoops. These tools will help strengthen small muscles in their hands.

 


Activity #3: Farm Themed Bin (Oats, Corn, and Pudding)

 

Y’all must think I’m crazy. Who mixes 3 different sensory fillers into one bin?

 

It was such a hit my husband even got in on the play!

 

farm themed sensory bin

 

I will admit, there was a little bit more clean-up than usual, but they had so much fun, it was worth it. One tip I’d give you is to clean it up right away while the pudding is still soft, I learned that the hard way!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. In a medium-sized container, 1/3 of the box should be filled with Quaker oats, 1/3 dried corn pieces, and the last 1/3 is pudding mix.

 

*Check out # – we did this immediately after the farm bin, two sensory bins in 1 day!!*

 

2. Add in some farm animal figures, barn/stable, and tractor or truck to play along!

 

farm animal figures

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3. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about the different animals that you’d see on a farm, what sound they make, and what kinds of food they eat!

 


Activity #4: Space Themed (Black Beans)

 

I was shocked by how well this space-themed sensory bin went over with my kids! I didn’t realize how good of a filler black beans are in a sensory bin!

 

black bean planet sensory bin

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. In a medium-sized container, dump two bags of black beans, stars, planets, and cards!

 

planets for kids

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2. That’s it! Yes, it’s that simple. Sometimes what takes more time is coming up with what to put inside of it instead of putting it together!

3. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about the planet’s names, colors of each planet and describe important characteristics (biggest, smallest, has rings, etc.).

 


Activity #5: Tapioca Pearls

 

What?! Water beads that can be eaten? Dreams do come true! These colorful beads are tapioca pearls!

 

tapioca pearl sensory bin

 

These took 5 minutes to make, which is always a plus. I always appreciate activities that can be put together quickly.

 

Tips for this bin:

 

1. Follow the directions on the back of the bag of tapioca. I didn’t follow the exact instructions the first time around, and they came out WAY too sticky to use, so I had to redo it.

 

2. Once cooked, I pulled out the clear ones and separated them in several small bowls so I could use food coloring to have all of them colored.

 

3. Then, I placed them all in one big bowl, mixed, and added in some scoop scissors, tweezers, and measuring cups for play!

4. These can be eaten, I do suggest to add in some honey-like it recommends, so it gives it some taste :).

 


Activity #6: Spaghetti Cutting Bin

 

Who doesn’t love spaghetti? It’s my favorite food, so I love integrating it into our learn and play activities.

 

pasta cutting sensory bin fine motor activity

 

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- spaghetti noodles, kid’s scissors, child’s fork, and kid-friendly tweezers. I also added in a small plastic pot so they could pretend to cook the pasta.

 

kitchen pots and pans

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2. Cook the spaghetti until it would be ready for you to eat. Place the spaghetti in a strainer and let cold water run over the noodles until cool.

 

3. Drain the noodles and put them in a medium-sized container for play.

 

4. Help your child learn with this bin by adding in the fine motor tools listed in the materials section! Your child can practice cutting skills and improve fine motor skills by using the tweezers and fork. Also, you can discuss how to cook spaghetti to give them a practical life lesson!

 


Activity #7: Hot Chocolate Sensory Play

 

This bin looks DELICIOUS, right?

 

hot cocoa sensory bin

 

I won’t lie; we all dug into eating this fantastic sensory bin. It was hard not to! But, there was way more play than there was eating, thank goodness!

 

How to make this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- A box of Cocoa Puffs, mini marshmallows, two coffee cups (I chose Starbucks because I am obsessed, I’ll admit it), measuring cups/spoons and a whisk.

 

2. Dump the entire box of Cocoa Puffs into a large container. Add in all the other materials listed above and let your child have fun!

3. Help your child learn with this activity by showing them how to scoop and pour. These are practical life lessons that they will use for their entire lives! Try to encourage them to get as much as they can into the coffee cups without spilling it.

 


Activity #8: Ocean Themed (Jell-O)

 

We just took a trip to Sea World, and my kids can’t stop talking about underwater animals. That’s what inspired this bin!

 

ocean jello sensory bin

 

I love it when a sensory play activity is edible because littler ones can even join in on the fun. I’ve never used Jell-O before as a filler, and let me tell you; it is incredible!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. In a medium-sized tray/bin, follow the directions on how to make Jell-O.

 

2. Once you’ve added in the cold water, place several underwater animals inside the jelly before putting it into the refrigerator.

 

underwater animals

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3. I put this bin together at night, so I knew it would be ready to go in the morning to play. It takes about 4 hours for Jell-O to be ready!

 

4. If you want, you can add in some rocks for the animals to sit on! This can be done when before the kids start playing with it.

 

5. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about animals that live underwater, what those animals eat, and where they live!

 


Activity #9: Birthday Cupcake Bin

 

It was my daughter’s 5th birthday in December, and we had nothing to do on the morning of her birthday! I knew I had to come up with something fun for her. This bin is a birthday themed cloud dough sensory bin!

 

birthday dough sensory bin

 

She honestly had a blast; we ended up getting out our Melissa and Doug wooden mixer and pretended to make our own cake.

 

This is one of the things that I love most about sensory bins. They can go in different directions that you didn’t even plan on! It’s all about a child’s imagination and creativity!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- 6 cups of flour, 1 cup of vegetable oil, 4-5 drops of vanilla extract, and sprinkles!

 

2. I also added in some candles, cupcake holders, scoops, and bowls!

 

3. Help your child learn with this bin by asking them the month of their birthday, day, and the year they were born! Count the candles and challenge them to place the number of candles for how old they are on a cupcake that they made.

 


Messy Sensory Play

 

Messy sensory play bins are my kids’ favorite! They could play with the items in these bins for hours.

 

Listen, I know what your thinking… why would you purposely let your kids get messy? 

 

It honestly is never that bad. Even if it is, they are kids; they WANT to get messy, and let’s be honest, they are having a blast, which creates fun memories for you and them.

 

Here is a list of messy sensory play fillers

 

1. Oobleck

2. Water marbles

3. Slime

4. Shaving Cream

5. Pudding

6. Soap + Water

 

Activity #10: Monster Truck Oobleck

 

I have never made oobleck before trying this monster truck chocolate oobleck bin. It turned me into a fan!

 

 

Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid; simply put, it is both a liquid and a solid. Which means it’s one AMAZING sensory experience.

 

How to create this bin: 

 

1. Materials you need- 2 cups of cornstarch, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 2 cups of water.

 

2. Whisk the cornstarch and cocoa together. Then, add the water in and whisk it together, or your kiddos can start getting their hands messy by mixing it themselves! Stir together until it has the same texture all around.

 

3. Add in monster trucks or cars for some fun imaginative play!

4. Help your child learn with this bin by explaining what ingredients you had to combine to make oobleck!

 


Activity #11: Dinosaur Goo

 

Want to know the easiest sensory bin to pull off that your kids will go crazy for?

 

DINOSAUR GOO! This goo feels terrific; I was playing with it forever with the kids because I couldn’t get enough of it!

 

 

Also, it comes as you see in this picture! It comes with this inflatable pool, the goo, and the dinosaur toy set!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. In the box, there will be everything included that you see the picture. You will need to blow up the little pool-it’s simple. Then, you just put the powder in the pool and add water!

 

2. After a few minutes, mix the goo up, so it spreads out all around the pool.

 

3. Add in the dinosaurs and trees and let the kids go to town! We even brought up some of our other dinosaur figures!

 

4. Help your children learn with this bin by talking about the different types of dinosaurs and whether they were carnivores or herbivores. Bring some scoops into play as well to work on fine motor skills!

 

gelli world dinosaur sensory bin

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Activity #12: Insect Discovery

 

If you have near played with waters beads, this is a MUST try the activity with your little ones.

 

bug water bead sensory bin

 

Your children will be VERY entertained by playing with the water beads! However, make sure they know they are NOT edible. These ones are just for play, unlike the tapioca pearls that I mentioned earlier!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- bug figures and green water beads.

 

2. Put half of the bag of water beads into a medium-sized container and add a generous amount of water.

 

3. Let it sit overnight; the water beads need time to get larger!

 

4. Hide bug figures into the water beads and let the kids search through the water beads to find them!

5. Help your child learn with this bin by using fine motor tools like tweezers and scoop scissors to improve those tiny muscles. Discuss different types of insects, how many legs insects have, and what they eat!

 


Activity #14: Frozen Shaving Cream

 

Anyone remember when they were kids, and the teacher would let you put shaving cream on your desks to practice handwriting?

 

That was my most FAVORITE activity!! Since I have had such fond memories of that, I try to incorporate shaving cream into learning and sensory play.

 

Frozen Shaving Cream Sensory Bin For Kids

 

Your kids will love how the frozen shaving cream feels. It’s easy for them to rescue the toys, then they can have a blast just using their imagination and playing with the toys in the bin!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- foam shaving cream, blue food coloring, a spoon, plastic toy ocean animals

 

2. In a medium-sized container, squirt enough foam shaving cream to cover the entire bottom of the bin. Add in several drops of blue food coloring to create the light blue color that you see above! Using a spoon to mix around, then use a spatula to make it even all around.

 

3. Add in some ocean themed animals for the kids to rescue and play with and place in the freezer overnight!

 

4. I would play with this bin in the bathtub and make sure your kiddos are wearing something that you won’t mind getting messy. The blue food coloring does get on their little hands; however, with a bit of scrubbing, it came off quickly!

 

5. Help your kids learn with this bin by asking them to describe the feeling of the frozen sensory bin (look for adjectives like soft, squishy, foamy). Also, you can talk about different underwater animals and explain what oceans are and where they are located on a map.

 


Learning Themed Bins

So all of the sensory bins that I have talked about have the potential to be a learning bin. However, these ones that I am going to be talking about now are made to be educational.

 

Why not have fun while learning, right?

 

Activity #15. Alphabet Kinetic Sand Search

 

This was the first sensory bin that I did with my kids!

 

I got hooked on creating sensory bins because this was such a hit. I never expected the kids to play with something for so long. My daughter even started teaching my son the alphabet, which I thought was pretty cool! 🙂

 

Kinetic Sand Letter Search

 

You can grab the FREE ALPHABET LETTER SEARCH HERE!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- kinetic sand, letters of the alphabet (puzzle letters/magnetic letters), and the alphabet worksheet!

Kinetic Sand Set with toys sensory toy for kids

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2. In a medium-sized container, dump the kinetic sand in and hide the letters throughout the sand.

 

3. Explain that your child will find the letters and match them up with the letters on the worksheet!

 

4. Help your child learn with this bin by talking to them about the letters they find and challenge them if they are old enough to see if they know what letter sounds it makes!

 

5. Keep the play going by asking them to hide the letters so you can find them!

 


Activity #17: Ice-Cream Number Play

I scream you scream we ALL scream for ICE CREAM!

 

I don’t know about you, but there is never a time where I say no to ice cream. We had to get ice cream the night after we did this bin because it sounded so good!

 

ice cream sensory bin

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- cotton balls, small colored pom-poms, ice cream bowls/plastic cones, and scoops! We also have ice cream set from Melissa and Doug, that’s where I got the little menu and the 4 scoops that you see in front of the bin.

 

melissa and doug ice cream set

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2. In a medium-sized bin, cover the entire tray in cotton balls! Add in some of the small pom poms to be the sprinkles for the ice cream! Add in all of the other little things like the bowls and scoops.

 

3. Help your child learn with this bin by asking them to put a certain number of cotton balls and sprinkles into the bowls, work on addition skills by getting two bowls out to add small amounts together and work on color recognition by asking for specific colors of sprinkles!

 

BONUS ACTIVITY!

 

FREE ICE CREAM ADDITION WORKSHEET!

 

Kids can work on adding small numbers together to see how many scoops of ice cream need to end up on the last cone! You can even make the worksheet come to life by adding in colored pom-poms to the bin instead of cotton balls! 

 


Activity #18: Fine Motor Bead Play

 

Fine motor skills are essential for children to perform everyday tasks like buttoning a shirt, zipping up a jacket, and tying shoes.

 

To build excellent fine motor skills, you need to do activities that use the small muscles in your fingers like beading necklaces!

 

fine motor bead sensory play

 

To fill this bin, I used a whole bunch of colored beads! We got a Disney necklace kit; I added in the strings from that kit along with the cute little princess charms it came with.

 

1. Materials you need- colored beads and string (if you don’t want to get the Disney set).

disney necklace

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2. Dump the beads into a medium-sized sensory bin. The kids will love sorting through the bin to pick out what colors they want to use for the necklace!

 

3. Have them pick a colored string that they like and have them start using both their hands to hold the string and put the bead on. (Only help them if they need help, encourage them to do this on their own). 

 

4. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about the colors that they choose and ask them to create a specific pattern for the necklace.

 


Activity #19. Practical Life Washing Toys/Dishes

 

Practical life activities are the best out there. It’s so important to teach our kids essential skills that they will use in their everyday lives.

 

Not that they will clean toys with toothbrushes for the rest of their lives… but it gives them a sense of understanding of how to clean things.

 

washing toys sensory bin

 

In this picture, you see the toys that got a combination of pudding, oats, and corn all over them from sensory bin #3. These animal toys got MESSY.  But, the kids did a fantastic job cleaning them, and guess what, they enjoyed the water play just as much as they did the farm bin.

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- water, soap, toothbrushes, and dirty toys/plates!

 

kids dish soap

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2. Add some water and soap into a medium-sized bin. Give your kids the toothbrushes and encourage them to start scrubbing the dirty toys!

 

3. Help your child learn with this bin by showing them how to use the toothbrush to scrub off the dirty spots on the toys/plate, explain why we need to wash toys and dishes, and the importance of taking care of our belongings!

 


Activity #20: Construction Site Counting/Alphabet Bin

 

This is another kinetic sand bin that I used. I thought that it went perfectly with the construction theme of this activity.

 

You could also use play sand as the filler or even dirt (if you’re brave). I actually can’t wait to use dirt for some sensory bins this summer!

 

construction sensory alphabet game

 

The rocks in this activity have different letters of the alphabet on them. This can also be changed to practice number recognition or even sight small sight words!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- kinetic sand, small smooth stones, a small dump truck, and some sand toys (optional).

 

2. Write the letters of the alphabet on the stones and place them in the bin. You can hide them in the sand and leave some out!

 

3. Help your child learn from this by asking them what letter of the alphabet is on a rock that they find or have them try to find a specific letter!  You can also work on counting skills by asking them how many stones they can place in the dump truck.

 


Activity #21: Dental Hygiene Bin (the.sensory.bin)

 

Okay, how cute is the dental hygiene bin? I collaborated on this blog article with my friend, the.sensory.bin. You can find her on Instagram! She posts some amazing sensory bin ideas that you can do at home or school with your students!

 

dental hygiene sensory bin

 

Both my daughter and I have had quite a few dental problems over the past few years. So, we are making a huge effort to take care of our teeth! This sensory bin helps with the conversation. I want to make cleaning our teeth seem cool!

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- rice, pink food coloring, tooth necklaces, floss, dental face masks, and black pom-poms.

 

1. This is a colored rice bin (check out #2 for more info on how to do this).

 

 

dental toys

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2. Dump the pink rice into a medium-sized bin and place all of your fun teeth play items into the container, and you have a fantastic sensory and pretend play activity!

 

3. Help your child learn with this bin by talking about the importance of dental health, pretend to brush the teeth and play with the black pom-poms as cavities, and explain what the other tools are used for when going to the dentist!

 

Again, check out the.sensory.bin on Instagram to see this sensory bin in action! She posts excellent ideas to help teach little ones using sensory play.

 


Activity #22: Bird Seed Fine Motor Play

 

I got this idea by going to our local Children’s Museum. They have an area set up where the kids can play with birdseed and funnels, and my kids spent a half-hour in that one section of the museum.

 

We are bird lovers at our house. My husband even has his own backyard birdwatching camera, where you can see 20+ different species of birds!

 

Interested in checking out the birds that come to our feeders? Click here to see his LIVE video steam!

 

bird seed sensory bin

 

How to create this bin:

 

1. Materials you need- birdseed, corn, a measuring cup, a larger funnel, whisk, spoon, bowls, and empty egg container.

 

2. In a large-sized container, mix some bird seed and corn, so it covers the entire bottom of the bin. Place all the other materials on top and let the kids start playing!

 

3. Help your child learn with this bin by talking to them about different species of birds that are near your house, explain what in the bin that birds like to eat, and focus on fine motor play with scooping and pouring with the cups and spoons!

 


Final Thoughts and Conclusion

 

Sensory bins are a fantastic way for your children to learn, create, and discover things using their senses.

 

I promise you will become addicted to making these making activities for your kids because you will see how much they enjoy playing and exploring the objects inside. I love coming up with new ideas because I make memories with the kids by doing these sensory bins with them!

 

Have some great ideas for a sensory bin that you have done with your kids? I’d love to hear them! Please comment below to share them with our community!

 

Happy Learning!

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