5 Easy Sensory Bin Ideas

kid playing with beans in a bin

Sharing is caring!

Sensory bins are a fantastic way to engage children in hands-on, exploratory play that stimulates their senses and encourages learning in a fun way. They are easy to set up, and there are a variety of sensory bin ideas tailored to different interests and themes. This makes them readily available as quick brain breaks for kids

Whether you’re looking for a quick activity to help children relax for concentrated focus, of you’re looking for an educational tool to enhance development, sensory bins offer endless possibilities. In this article you’ll discover the benefits of sensory bins, as well as 5 easy sensory bin ideas. 

kid hands playing in a sensory bin
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Key Takeaways

Sensory bins offer a multifaceted sensory experience that can be beneficial for children of all ages.

Some of the main benefits of sensory bins include fine motor skill development, scientific thinking, and confidence.

Sensory bins can be easily incorporated alongside other brain breaks throughout the day. 

What is a Sensory Bin?

A sensory bin is any container filled with materials and objects that provide a rich sensory experience. This includes tactile, visual, and sometimes auditory sensory experiences. These bins are most often used as educational tools for children. They can be especially useful in early childhood education.

Sensory bins encourage exploration, discovery, and learning through hands-on play. Through play, children can develop fine motor skills, stimulate creativity, and engage in a variety of opportunities for sensory integration. 

There is no single route for creating a sensory bin. Sensory bins can be themed around various topics, such as nature, seasons, or special events like holidays. They can also focus on specific educational concepts, like letters, numbers, and colors. 

Some of the most common materials used in sensory bins include:

  • Dry foods like rice, beans, and pasta
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Small toys
  • Sponges
  • Feathers
  • Leaves
  • Shells
girl washing a bowl in a sensory bin idea
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Sensory Bin Benefits

Your child’s favorite sensory bin can offer a wide variety of benefits. The exact benefits will vary, depending on the type of sensory bin and how it is used. For example, a sensory table designed for older children may offer different benefits than sensory bin play aimed toward toddlers and preschoolers.

However, many of the benefits are inherent to this sensory experience and can include:

  • Fine motor skills development
  • Cognitive growth
  • Language development
  • Sensory integration
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Social skills
  • Emotional regulation
  • Scientific thinking
  • Independence and confidence. 
kids hands playing in a rainbow sensory bin
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Sensory Bin Ideas

Creating sensory bins can be a fun and educational activity that engages children in a variety of unique ways. Themed sensory bins provide children with new opportunities for learning and exploration. This creates a playtime for your child that is both enjoyable and enriching.

Here are some creative and easy sensory bin ideas:

Nature Exploration Bin

A nature-themed bin is often one of the easiest sensory bin ideas to recreate. This is because it can be made from materials found in your backyard.

To create this sensory bin, fill a bin or large container with a variety of natural elements. This includes leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, and similar objects. If you are bringing in objects from outside, be sure to check for any insects beforehand. To elevate this sensory experience, you can add magnifying glasses and small animal figurines.

Ocean Adventure Bin

There are many ways to create an ocean-themed sensory bin. This includes using water as well as creating a dry sensory bin.

To create an ocean-inspired sensory bin that uses water, line the base of your bin with sand. Then, add water. If you want to keep the sand undisturbed while pouring the water, use a spoon to help redirect the flow. You can enhance this experience with shells, toy fish, small boats, or rocks to help inspire your child to engage with this underwater scene.

If you are unable to add water, there are other ways to create an ocean adventure bin as well. One option would be to use blue-colored rice. This provides a unique tactile experience for your child while also remaining reminiscent of water. 

Please note that while many components of these sensory bin ideas can be readily stored in under-the-bed storage bins or other containers, you won’t want to store food items like rice here. This is especially true for longer periods of time.

Related Post: Sensory Activity Ideas for Children with Autism

Alphabet Discovery Bin

There are two common ways to create a sensory bin focused on the alphabet. These differ in the sensory experience they offer, and they may be better suited for one age group over another.

For younger children still learning to identify their alphabet, you can fill the bin with large wooden letters. Then, top the letters with slime or a similar material. This will encourage children to interact with the sensory bin as well as help them become used to seeing the letters on their own.

For older children, you can increase the difficulty by approaching the alphabet discovery bin from a different perspective. Instead of large wooden letters, fill the bin with small letters. Then, top with rice or sand, making sure to mix in the letters and hide them. Children can use tools like tweezers or scoops to find the hidden letters before identifying them. 

Dinosaur Dig Bin

For a child interested in prehistoric animals and dinosaurs, a dinosaur dig bin can be the perfect way to allow them to fulfill their archeological dreams while providing an enriching sensory experience. This is also an easy sensory bin idea that requires little set-up time and can be readily used time and time again.

Fill a bin with kinetic sand or dirt as the base. Then, bury small dinosaur toys, bones, or even any other small figurines. You can also use plan rocks instead, or, to elevate the experience, use a chalk marker to draw bones on the rocks to resemble fossils. Provide your children with brushes and small shovels for an excavation experience that requires fine motor skills and patience.

Related Post: What is Parallel Play?

Sensory Soup Bin

This fun sensory bin idea focuses on highlighting the tactile experiences provided by sensory bins To create this bin idea, fill your container with water. Then add sponges, scoops, plastic vegetables, and utensils. This will allow your child to engage their imagination and creativity for a sensory cooking experience.

A cooking-inspired sensory bin can also be a great way to foster teamwork and communication between children. One child may choose to focus on the vegetables, while another child may set to work on scooping each utensil out of the sensory bin. 

sensory bin ideas pin

More Resources

Sensory bins are only one example of a brain break for children. There are various ways to help incorporate intentional breaks throughout the day. Some will focus more on high-energy, silly tasks, such as utilizing different “Simon Says” ideas.

Other brain break experiences may involve quiet time in a calming corner. One 2016 study found that engaging in sensory play that involves combining touch with other senses is beneficial in helping children develop cognitive skills.


  • Megan Martin

    Megan is a professional writer with over 5 years of experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University. In her free time, Megan is an avid birdwatcher who enjoys spending time with her cats and watching documentaries with her husband.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *