Sensory bins are a lot of fun for toddlers and preschoolers, but what do you put in them? How do you make a theme for your bin? Well, here are some ideas to get you started with sensory play.
What’s a sensory bin?
A sensory bin is a box or container that holds items your toddler or preschooler (or really any child or adult for that matter) can explore with their senses.
Mostly they revolve around touch but there are also quite a few that you can smell and taste.
Sound is a part of it too because the sound of beans pouring into the bin is nice. It’s like ASMR for kids. (lol) I love the sound of dried macaroni on the plastic.
How do toddlers and preschoolers play with sensory bins?
However they want.
They’re supposed to be exploratory “toys.” They’re open ended so they don’t really have a right way or a wrong way to play.
You can have some sort of objective if you want like find all the toys buried in the bin. But don’t limit your kid to one way to play.
Just leave them alone with it and they’ll figure it out how they want. Some kids will play with a sensory box for hours at a time.
These sensory activities are great for when you need a break from playing because little ones are more likely to play independently when using all of their senses.
15+ Easy Sensory Bins for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Easy and fun sensory bin ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. You can take these ideas and make them your own with substitutions or by adding other things.
Washing Dishes Sensory Bin Idea
This is one of my daughter's favorite sensory activities. She loves playing with water and for some reason she likes to do chores. This is an easy way to play dishes without getting the sink and cabinets all wet.
Create with Crayons Easy Sensory Bin Idea
Here's a creative sensory bin that you can make with simple household items.
Feed the Ducks Sensory Bin for Toddlers & Preschoolers
Rubber ducky, you're the one! You make sensory bins lots of fun!
Ocean Sensory Bin
There's more than one sensory play with this idea. This ocean bin also involves ice for a little extra fun.
Easy Cheerio Sensory Bin
Toddlers love to eat Cheerios. Why not let them play with them?
This is a mess free sensory bin. And she has a really cool explanation about why kids are done with activities so quickly and how to get them to play longer with an activity you set up.
Sensory Bin Veggie Garden
I'm in love with this idea for a sensory bin. The beans are a really nice filler and my 3 year old loves to garden, even if it's just pretend.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Alphabet Sensory Play
What child doesn't love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? I'm pretty sure 50 of the 1000 books before Kindergarten on our sheet are just this book. Here's a fun sensory bin to play with the alphabet!
Dinosaur Sensory Bin with Shredded Paper
I think shredded paper is the easiest filler for a sensory bin. (Well, next to water I guess) It's pretty easy to shred paper and find a quick theme based on the toys you have. Here's a dinosaur themed sensory bin.
Solar System Sensory Bin
I love this idea. I've been into space my whole life and my 3-year-old is too. Take some time to talk about the planets as they explore this bin.
Bright and Sour Sensory Bin
Smell is also part of sensory play. And taste. Incorporate both senses with this lemony bin.
Edible Rainbow Sensory Bin
Here's another taste sensory play idea. You can have your toddler or preschooler sort the cereal by color to practice their sorting and color skills. She has a really nice description of how her kids decided to play with it.
Emotions Sensory Bins
This is a fantastic idea that I'm going to try this weekend with Toot. Jennifer created 3 different sensory bins for her daughter based on happy, sad, and mad feelings. Really smart. Great sensory activity for dealing with big feelings.
Monet Water Lilies Sensory Bin
This is such a creative idea for a sensory bin. I would've never thought of it. Initially I thought the bridge would be hard to make or you'd need something special for it. She just made it out of pipe cleaners and cardstock. I have both of those things on hand already. Definitely trying this one.
Construction Sensory Bins
Construction trucks are one of our favorite things. She watches a lot of Blippi and he talks about all kinds of construction equipment. Here's a fun sensory bin idea for kids who love dump trucks and excavators.
Bug Sensory Bin
Explore bugs and critters with a magnifying glass. They can also hide in the "dirt."
Pirate Treasure Hunt Sensory Bin With Kinetic Sand!
We are currently obsessed with kinetic sand. And pirates. This is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Burying and digging out treasure sounds like fun to me!
What are your favorite sensory bin ideas for kids?
Let me know in the comments below!
We really like dried macaroni, water, and water beads in our sensory play activities. I’d like to try some new fillers and some more themed ideas. We’re definitely going to try some of these bins soon.
Oh those look like fun activities! My daughter loves edible sensory bins. She tried to eat the dried pasta last time. lol I pretty much have to stick to taste friendly sensory boxes now. I’m hoping when she’s a little older we can do water beads. I love those things!
Niki at Toot's Mom is Tired says
Yes! Water beads are my favorite! But they get slimy after a while. My husband thinks they feel like when your hand falls asleep and tingles so he doesn’t like them. ?♀️ I need to get some more and make more sensory bins for my 3 year old. She hasn’t played with them in a while.