12 of the easiest Sensory Bin Ideas to try this Year (Sensory bin of the Month)

I love sensory bins as part of our early learning here at home. Here is a list of sensory bin ideas you can reference this year so you always have something to set up.

I am a planner and that’s why I created the curriculum for teaching ™ son at home. For the 2 year curriculum I added a Sensory bin idea for every week.

Sensory bins are an essential part of early learning to work on fine motor skills. I have been focusing a lot on strengthening those hand and finger muscles that will, later on, help t little learners in writing, buttoning their shirts, tying their shoes, and many other activities where the hand muscles are involved and we often take for granted.

Why Sensory Bins during Early Learning:

  • Sensory bins are hands-on learning tools for children to explore their world through the senses. They encourage exploration while incorporating a variety of senses: touch, sight, sounds, taste, and smell for children to learn and explore.
  • Sensory bins encourage language development: When playing with a sensory bin, it offers the opportunity to work on language development, it offers opportunities to discuss hidden objects.
  • Sensory bins work on fine motor skills: When children use their hands and fingers to explore the items in a bin, improve fine motor skills through scooping, grasping, stirring, and pouring with a variety of tools.

Now that we know why are they important, let’s get inspired with tons of ideas to plan our year.

Sensory Bin Ideas to Try this year!

I like to divide the year by themes to make planning lessons easier. Sometimes I create one sensory bin and just rotate the elements that I add to it. This way, it is less work for me and the kids love the little changes I make.

Use this guide to create your own themes and set up one sensory bin a month.

January: Penguins Shaving cream sensory bin

A sensory bin is taken from our toddler curriculum. Shaving cream, ice, and penguins. A fun mix and cool sensory experience! I haven’t met a toddler that doesn’t like to play with shaving cream. You can also freeze the shaving cream ahead of time to harden it up a bit.

This ice and shaving cream activity is perfect for introducing toddlers to the idea that ice is cold, it melts, and they love ice.

Sensory Bin Ideas
Sensory Bin Ideas for January using penguins as a theme

February: Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

For Valentine’s Day I wanted the kids to work on fine motor skills using the tongs. These tongs are available at the Dollar store and are a great skill to prepare little ones for writing later on. It works on strengthening all those little muscles in the hand and finger that will give them the coordination and strength later on to hold a pencil and control it.

To make this Valentine’s sensory bin, I purchased a bag of different size marshmallows. I topped the bin with foam wish cookies in red and pink. These were also easy to grab with the tongs because of their shape, and I added some red gift stuffing to add color as well as to make playtime more interesting.

For some of the kids, this was their first time using tongs, and marshmallows is a great way to start because they are soft and when the tong pokes the marshmallow it sticks to it, reducing frustration for the kids.

For the babies, I did the same bin, but removed the string, and letft only large sized marshmallows; They loved exploring the taste of the marshmallows!

March: St Patrick’s Sensory Bin

This is one of my favorite bins because I created matching counting cards to go along with them. I made lemon-scented yellow rice to play with as a base and purchased foam stickers (without peeling the back) from Walmart. I tried to get the items from the card to match out the counting activity and cut out the leprechaun faces and attach them to a cup – cutting out the mouth. I gave Manu a measuring spoon to use and let him explore.

Together we did the counting activities and he loved to look for the items hiding in the rice and matching them up on the card. It was a great counting and number recognition activity we did together.

Lear more about the Str Patrick’s Day Sensory bin & get the free printable

April: It’s Bitsy Spider Sensory Bin

When I think of April, I think of the weather. And Itsy Bitsy Spider is a book we always read during this time because it’s an easy concept to teach about the rain. Here are two variations of Itsy bitsy Spider Bins. A water-based one for the little ones that still mouth everything and a rice-based sensory bin for those that have overcome that.

May: Farm Sensory Bin

There are so many farm sensory bin ideas you can do! Here are two favorite ones that I did this year. One works on fine motor skills using a wooden spoon to feed the cow grass and the other is a free-play sensory bin using our farm animal sound cards and figurines.

How to create a farm sensory bin

June: Space Theme sensory bin

There are so many options to do a space theme sensory bin! The first bin we created for the class was using moon sand. After all, we were going to the moon, we were singing 3,2,1 blast off! but this time, I didn’t want to have a very messy bin.

space theme sensory bin

When I don’t want too much mess, I always go for beans as my sensory bin filler. I chose black beans, some glow in the dark stars, a star ice cube tray (that I had purchased for the 4th of July), and of course, some astronaut figurines. The spaceship was carved wood found at the craft section at the dollar store that we had painted and used as craft earlier in the week. I love it when you can build upon a theme over the week, it really helps the kids grasp the concept better.

July: Water and Seashells sensory bin

When summer comes around, I love to focus on water activities. It is hot outside so that means we can do a lot of summer activities. For this sensory bin I decided to recreate the ocean. I used water, seashells that we got at the Dollar store as well as some from our collection from our local trips and some sea animals. These were those grow-in-water animals (also from the Dollar store)

August: Transportation Theme sensory bin

Remember the edible mud we did before? well, if you omit the water you make edible dirt! and let me tell you, we had so much fun playing on this construction site. Plus, the smell of chocolate was AMAZING!

We created the edible-dirt, added construction trucks, grabbed rocks from the garden and pieces of wood. That’s it. The rest was left for the imagination.

September: Pig Sensory Bin

Do you have any water bath toys? they work great for sensory bin figurines. Because it was spring we have been talking about the farm, animals, the garden, bugs, and all things spring. We set up our mud kitchen, and I created pretend mud. This gave me an idea! pigs in the mud sensory bin! It’s very simple but a lot of fun.

Learn how to make pretend mud

October Sensory Bin with Shaving Cream

For October I always love to create spooky sensory bins! last year we did monster eyes with Jell-O. This year, I went with a spider theme using frozen shaving cream. OMG! this was so messy and so much fun! the texture is like nothing you have ever touched before… so so cool and so recommended!

Spray shaving cream on your bin, add a few food coloring drops and move around with a stick to create the lines of color. Place your items such as the spiders, eye balls, and colander and freeze over night. When ready, place at the sensory table and have fun!

I added a bin of water next to it to clean our hands, but Manu decided he wanted to melt the shaving cream in the water instead. I think is one of the sensory bins he has spent most time with. A total science class!

November: Color Mixing Sensory Bin

I had some time this year where all I wanted to do was science experiments for the toddlers. Of course, for toddlers you have to keep it very simple but one of my favorite experiments was a color mixing sensory bin.

I provided bottles of water and added a few drops of red, blue and yellow food color to create colored bottles. I then provided empty bowls, spoons, and other materials to encourage mixing the water and creating new colors. You should see the kid’s faces when they created these colors. it was like magic! well, it was science.

alternative: you can add some vinegar to the water and add baking soda to the cups and create mini volcano explosions.

December: Peppermint Cloud Dough Sensory Bin

OK! I know this is more than 12 ideas but I couldn’t leave this one out! the smell of peppermint reminds of Christmas and making this peppermint cloud dough was so much fun! It was supposed to be green but the flour immediately absorbs the paint so it turns into a speckle green rather than a full green. I love that it is like a moldable sand (similar to our homemade snow) so there are so many possibilities when playing with it.

Learn how to make peppermint cloud dough here

plan your week!

Download the activity planner and start planning your weekly activity theme and activities.

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