6+ Sensory Bins for under $30 – with tons of other ideas!

Sensory bins are the best for keeping small hands busy. You can switch out all the “fillers” and create tons of different combinations!
Sensory bin ideas from the Dollar store

Check out all of my sensory and activity posts here.

D needs sensory stuff and sensory bins. And since we are inside, waiting for baby to arrive, I knew he needed a sensory bin day.

I could not WAIT to get to Dollar Tree and try all of these sensory bins. I went armed with a list – HA! That was funny that I actually thought I would follow a list. The list also was for under $20. Again – HA! Mine was $40, BUT I bought some stuff that wasn’t for my sensory bins and since everything was $1, it was easy for me to take it out of my total and get a new total. Here is how I started:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

Sensory Bins Shopping List

  • 6 bins (I know I said that this would make 6+ – sit tight, we’ll get to that)
  • 2 bags of cotton balls (I ended up using only 1)
  • 2 bags of dry beans (again, I ended up using only 1)
  • 1 bag of pasta (I bought Ziti)
  • 1 bag of creepy crawlies
  • 1 bag of lizards / frogs (obviously these and the previous ones can be switched out with anything – this is just what D likes)
  • 2 sets of 3 rubber ducks
  • 1 set of play kitchen tools
  • 1 set of tongs (D calls these “pinchers”…he loves to play with ours at home)
  • 1 box of baking soda
  • 1 bag of decorative rocks
  • 1 bag of decorative sand
  • 1 bag of decorative pebbles
  • 1 set of coffee scoops
  • 1 set of 3 toothbrushes
  • 1 container of oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of vinegar
  • 1 set of funnels
  • 2 cans of shaving cream
  • 1 foam alphabet set

Keep your kids busy and get some quiet time for yourself! Download my sensory play activity guide now!

Again, you can pick other stuff. If you have a girl and want fake jewelry, whatever. Use your imagination! 🙂

Here is a breakdown of my sensory bin items:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

The shaving cream is part of the “+” of my bins. I will get into that also 🙂

Here are the items that will be in the bins:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

And then here are the tools that he’ll use (he LOVES tools):

sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

So first I am going to show you the 6 bins that I made, then I will give you ideas for the “+” bins. I will have to run to the Dollar Tree again and pick up 1 or 2 more bins that will act as “messy bins.” The bins that need to be switched out and can’t hold certain stuff (ie, clean mud, shaving cream, water, etc).

The first one I tackled was rocks and sand. I was super excited about this one because of the pretty colors I picked out. 🙂

sensory bin with rocks and sand

I let D pick out which toy he wanted to put in this one and he chose the creepy crawlies.

bug sensory bin

In true boy, sensory seeking fashion, he could not WAIT to get his hands in there. His imagination went wild with this one. They were all on a mission together to save the good guys and fight the bad guys! Kids can learn colors, numbers, get their sensory output fix for the day, whatever.

Next one was the rocks and D actually had the idea of what to add to the rocks. I have to admit, those construction vehicles were not purchased at the Dollar Tree. But how could I say no, when it was his idea to toss them in after seeing the rocks? I just couldn’t.

construction sensory bin

Next, we loaded up the bin with dry oatmeal. You could very well use wet oatmeal, but don’t reuse it. You would have to toss it out after you played with it but I bet it would be very fun.

oatmeal sensory bin with lizards

I was going to write numbers under the creatures bellies but there just wasn’t enough time with this guy digging in.

Next up was beans! I don’t know why, but beans are my favorite sensory item. Maybe it’s because it was one of the first that I used when I was a developmental therapist? They are heavy but not too heavy and they’re cold. I even like playing in the bean bin! We added the toy kitchen utensils and a scoop in this one. D loves the kitchen utensils so he enjoyed this bucket.

sensory bin with beans

Next was cotton balls and rubber duckies. I wrote numbers on the bottom of the rubber ducks because we’ve been having some problems with a few numbers. He wasn’t too thrilled with this one, (probably because it makes the least amount of mess) but he’ll come around 🙂

rubber ducks for sensory bins
sensory bin with rubber ducks and cotton balls

Finally, we did dry pasta and a mini foam board I found that he could put the letters into. I love this one! We are trying to learn the difference between numbers and letters and this one is awesome because it has letters and numbers.

sensory bin with dry pasta and letters sensory bin with foam letters

As for my “extras….”

messy sensory bin items

*Baking soda and vinegar is just awesome together. I’ve never shown D before but I will. It’s a really cool reaction, so this will be in my “messy bin” (the bin that needs to be cleaned out after every use!)
*Shaving cream is also awesome and will be a part of the messy bin.
*The toothbrushes will be in a soapy water messy bin with his cars so he can wash them.
*The funnels can really go into any bin. D found a home for them in the oatmeal bin!

Other things we will do in the messy bin:
*Clean mud (shaved bar soap and torn up toilet paper mixed with water)
*Baking soda and water (3:1)
*Play dough (homemade or otherwise)
*Water beads (these are found at most craft stores and some dollar stores)
*Pumpkin guts
*Hair gel
*Cooked spaghetti noodles

If you are looking for a printable shopping list of over 50 sensory bins and fillers, grab your free copy here by signing up for my mailing list. I promise I won’t overflow your inbox 😉

I also share lots of easy, educational activities in live videos on my Facebook page, so head over and give it a “like” and make sure you turn notifications on!

The opportunities for sensory play are ENDLESS! You can also add any small plastic toys really to these sensory bins. I could go on for hours on sensory activities.

Related Posts:

              Sensory bottles from the Dollar store          

Please feel free to ask questions about sensory bins and activities. It was my FAVORITE part of teaching.

Enjoy!

Check out all of my sensory and activity posts here.