What is a sensory bin?

Do you ever find yourself asking the question “what is a sensory bin?” I’m sure you see them all over Pinterest and Google but you really have no idea what they are and why people use them. Well here is a post for you – I’m going to break it all down for you and even show you how simple it is to make sensory bins home.

A collage of photos of children playing in various things in a sensory bin - oatmeal and lizards, rocks and bugs.

Why should we have Sensory Play?

Sensory play is something that parents oftentimes neglect at home. They don’t realize that sometimes it can actually help a child regulate their behavior! So that toddler that throws tantrums (what feels like every 14 seconds) could benefit from some fine motor or sensory play. Simply giving them 20 minutes or so a few times a day (or longer if they will sit) may cut down on those tantrums. But always keep in mind that for a toddler, tantrums are normal and are necessary for their development – I know, it sucks. But it’s the truth!

I would like to break down the anatomy of a sensory bin for you. It contains a few “ingredients,” and can very easily be made by things you already have in your house.

What is a sensory bin?

  • A sensory bin contains 2-3 “ingredients.”
    • A Filler: You first need a filler for your sensory bin. This is the item that you will most likely see the most of in the bin. Your child will spend most of his time and energy sorting through this one part of the bin. Some filler ideas include:
      • Water (with or without soap to make bubbles)
      • Shaving cream
      • Dry rice, beans or pasta
      • Water beads
      • Crinkle cut paper
      • For a huge list of filler ideas, check out this post and you’ll find a printable.
    • A Learning Tool: The learning tool is what you’re going to be using with the filler. So if you want to work on numbers with your child, you can use number blocks or foam numbers. If you want to work on animals, you can use plastic animals. Learning tools are not totally necessary!  Some kids just need simple sensory play and that is fine! Some examples of learning tools are:
      • Colored cubes (working on colors)
      • Number blocks (work on numbers)
      • Plastic animals (habitats, animal sounds, animal attributes, etc)
      • Memory cards
      • Opposite cards
    • Manipulative tools: These tools are extras as well. You want a sensory bin filler a learning tool or a manipulative tool. The manipulative tool will enhance the fine motor aspect and hand eye coordination. For a full list of tools, check out this post.
      • Measuring cups
      • Measuring spoons
      • Plastic tweezers
      • Plastic rakes
      • Cups
      • Pastry brushes

So do you feel like you can create your own bins now!? If you’re looking for a whole guide on how to build bins, check it out hereIt’s a free printable for you and actually gives you sensory bin ideas!

Still stressed about sensory bins?

Would you love for someone to just do it for you? I got you!

Check out these sensory bin activity guides.

These sensory bin activity guides will give you:

  • Sensory bin ideas from ages 3 months to 4 years
  • Easy to purchase/click supply list
  • Simple instructions to put it together
  • Tips on how to put together sensory bins and how to facilitate play
  • Age appropriate skills you’re focusing on
  • Different ways to work on the bin
  • Facebook group access
  • Related books
Get your sensory bin guide here!

Grab your guide here!

Head over to Instagram when you’re doing these activities and tag me! @mostlyundercontrol. I want to see them in action!

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One thought on “What is a sensory bin?

  1. Hi Anna! Did you check your spam in your email?

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