How To Set Up A Homemade Sensory Bin (for maximum Independent playtime)

Sensory play is very beneficial for development. During the ages 0-5 kids learn through play, therefore sensory play bins are a great way to combine both learning and playing. Let’s talk about they whys and the how’s of implementing homemade sensory bins at home.

Sensory bins are easy to set up, all you need is:

  • A large plastic bin or tray
  • A filler (could be rice, pasta, cheerios, sand, etc…)
  • toys or spoons and things to play with
  • your imagination!

homemade sensory bins are activities set up within a bin or a plastic container. You can get as messy and creative with them as your imagination allows. You can start with them from very young were babies and tabbies like to be inside the bin, and later on, they can handle being out of the bin. it is said they are a lifesaver during the toddler years, and I am learning this to be true.

Sensory play is much more than just getting messy. Sensory play is crucial to a child’s development. Toddlers learn through play and this set up is great to offer this experience.

This cereal sensory play bin was one of the first sensory play ideas I did at home. The activity is easy to set up, not very messy, and super easy to clean up!

Just remember – as soon as your toddler starts throwing the filler OUT of the bin, you correct them by saying “we keep the cereal inside the bin” if your toddler does it a few times, it probably means he/she is bored and is time to take the sensory bin out and move on to the next activity.

How To Set Up A Homemade Sensory Bin

Follow along and I’ll walk you through it. You can even see how I create a farm-themed sensory bin on this Youtube Video

What Concepts To Teach With A Sensory Bin

Sensory bins, sensory bottles, and sensory bags allow children to explore, discover, imagine, create, and learn while engaging their senses.

Toddlers and children in general, learn best when they can touch and feel something, sensory play provides opportunities for children to learn in meaningful ways.

Sensory bins are great to practice fine motor skills. Is a way to introduce messy play in a safe way.

You can also practice life skills such as pouring and scooping.

How To Be Successful With A Sensory Bin

Provide the tools, create the setup and let your child explore. Do not dictate how to play.

Because the idea of sensory bins is open-ended play, there is no expectation of a finished product. The success is in the journey and letting the imagination take over.

When the materials inside sensory bins are offered to children without an expectation of a finished product, children use their imaginations and creativity to make sense of the materials in their own way. This experience is often referred to as open-ended exploration.

pre-k pages

STEP 1: Choose a Bin and Base (Filler)

Chose a container that has a lid like an under the bed shoe storage, or a sensory table like IKEA’s Famous FLISAT sensory table.

Filler Ideas

Create your own bin using any of these sensory bin fillers.

  • Colored rice
  • Feathers
  • Cotton
  • straws
  • Colored Sand
  • Sticky sand
  • Colored beans
  • Colored oats
  • cooked oatmeal
  • Cheerios or other cereals
  • Corn
  • Colored pasta
  • Aquarium rocks
  • Shredded paper
  • Wood shavings
  • Colored pasta
  • Birdseed
  • Wheat
  • Leaves
  • Colored salt

STEP 2: Choose Toys to play with

The toys are what is going to put together the theme.

  • Puzzle pieces
  • Party favors
  • Cars or trucks
  • Rubber animals
  • Blocks and legos
  • Glass beads
  • Pool noodles
  • Acorns
  • Pinecones
  • Pumpkins
  • Apples

STEP 3: Choose a Pour and Scoop Items

These items are what is going to allow your kid to play and work on fine motor skills. For a while, I had cheerios as my base and a dumping truck, then for a whole week what I changed was the pour and scoop items. This simple change changes the game.

Put them all together and you have an awesome sensory bin!

Homemade Sensory Bin Ideas

Looking for ideas about where to start? Here are a few homemade sensory bin ideas you can do at home.

Practice pouring and scooping with this cereal sensory play bin

Check out this 21 fun and amazing sensory bin ideas for toddlers and preschoolers

Find ideas on how to do a sensory bin with items from the dollar store

Test this lemon sensory bin to work on the senses

Step by Step Video – Build a Farm-Themed Sensory Bin

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sensory bin

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