Sensory Bins 101

Over the years, we’ve had a lot of fun with sensory bins.  A few of my little loves are sensory-seeking (often craving sensory input of all kinds), so these bins can be a super interesting way to get them what they need.  The great thing about sensory bins is that the possibilities are absolutely limitless.  Some are better enjoyed outside, but having an oversized high chair floor mat on hand is helpful for uncooperative weather.  Then the inevitable mess can be folded up and dumped back into the bin.  Obviously, children who might eat the sensory materials need to be watched closely, but these bins are an awesome way to occupy time.  I like to use these Sterilite containers for my bins because they stack easily for the materials that can be kept on hand.  But any plastic bin will do.  Sensory materials can be found all over the place – from outdoors, craft materials, and pantry items.  Here are 50 sensory bin ideas:

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Water Beads

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Coffee Beans

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Oobleck

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Snow

1. Water beads (a favorite)
2. Moon sand
3, Mini marshmallows
4. Moon dough
5. Rice (plain or dyed)
6. Shaving Cream
7. Tinsel
8. Coffee beans (a favorite)
9. Play dough
10. Fabric scraps
11. Shredded paper
12. Beads
13. Feathers and cotton balls
14. Play sand
15. Corks
16. Dyed spaghetti
17. Craft pom poms
18. Dried corn kernels
19. Easter basket grass
20. Glitter
21. Dried beans (any kind)
22. Baby oil
23. Packing peanuts
24, Kinetic Sand
25. River pebbles
26. Sea shells
27. Acorns
28. Split peas
29. Loom bands
30. Aquarium gravel
31. Assorted dried pastas
32. Sugar cubes (for building)
33. Snow
34. Rocks or small stones
35. Dirt (organic potting soil)
36. Bird seed
37. Straw
38. Legos
39. Ice
40. Play foam
41. Aloe vera gel
42. Buttons
43. Cornmeal
44. Tinsel
45. Polyfill pellets
46. Oobleck
47. Jello (set in a plastic bin)
48. Epsom Salt
49. Cut up straws
50. Sticks, leaves, grass

Many parents like to create “themed” bins for a season, holiday, color, etc.  I usually don’t have my supplies quite that together, but there are some very interesting ideas all over Pinterest.  I do like to keep extra measuring cups, spoons, etc. on hand though.  Also, many other toys work well as additions to these bins – mini dinosaurs and animals, trains, cars, play plates, bowls, cups, funnels, etc.  A lot of these supplies can be purchased at the dollar store.  Likewise, simple craft supplies found in the discount sections are perfect to stock up on.  I try not to spend a lot of money on the bins, though some supplies are worth investing in.  A few of the bins can be stored and brought out for quick entertainment, although many of them require more time to put together and won’t keep well.  The whole idea is to create sensory activities that my kids will enjoy and have fun with!

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