Bins – Sensory Bins – everything you need to know!

Sensory Bins!!!

I can still remember the first sensory bins I made for my kids when they were pre-schoolers…and they remember it too because sensory bins aren’t just about learning fine-motor skills and capturing their young creative minds…it is about spending time with your kids, creating memories…and if they learn a little too that’s a bonus!

Sensory bins are for all ages and stages of life.  Starting young allows your kids to explore in a safe place with materials that they wouldn’t always have access to.

And if you are worried about the mess, fear not!  You can have full control over what you put into them and where the kids play with them.  If you really don’t want a mess indoors, take it outside and enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and hours of fun!

Heather, mom to (as she says) a filthy and fabulous boy, is a superstar at creating sensory bins for her son.  To help give you some ideas, she put together these bins to spark the creative side of you and the adventurous side of your kids.

What are Sensory Bins?

From Heather…

Quite simply, they are a way to let your child explore different senses, to examine things, to manipulate an environment, to calm themselves, to develop fine-motor skills… But mostly they are a way to have fun!
I love making up new ones to match my sons current interests.
I’ll show you some examples of ones we have made but first we will look at the step by step process of making one.

How to make a Sensory Bin

  1. First, find a container. It can be anything. I love under the bed storage bins but we also have used everything from serving trays to baby bathtubs.
  2. Then find some fun “filler“. This is the stuff that their hands will be in and touching so make it an interesting feel. Rice, uncooked pasta, dirt, sand, lentils, bird seed, play dough, raffia paper, water, water beads…. anything interesting they can touch. See what you have on hand..and how much mess you are willing to clean. Also consider the age of your child and if they are still putting everything in their mouth. If so…start with edible and safe filler… whipped cream, water, cheerios… the list is ENDLESS!
  3. Next step is to find items that will allow the child to manipulate the filler. It can scoop, pour, pick up or in some way change it. Shovels, spoons, cups and tongs are all great things for this!
  4.  Now comes the most fun part in my humble opinion… the adding of the dramatic play element. The more traditional toy. But it becomes so much more now!
  5. You can do themes for holidays or around current interests.


The older they get, the more exploring and scientific examination they can do.

We read a book about birds…and he showed an interest, so we made up a sensory bin based on what was in the book.

He showed some interest so we made up a sensory bin…

  • Bird seed filler
  • Seedling cups for pouring
  • Spoons for digging and shovelling
  • Tongs
  • Light up magnifying glass
  • Play worms
  • Sticks for building nests
  • Bird houses
  • Plastic birds
  • I made tiny eggs from white play dough


We challenged ourselves to try to build a nest for the bird to lay eggs in. And there was some sort of drama with the birds and worms.
I always think I know how he will play with them. I’m almost always wrong. And I love that.
A favourite filler for my son is water beads. Called water jewels at Michael’s craft store they are a favourite. They come in lots of different colours.
A big hit is always dirt. A word of caution… maybe don’t use the dirt from your garden… things tend to come inside…and although it may add to their fun… just trust me on this one…

Sensory Bin Ideas from Heather!

Arctic animals, snow, water bowl and spoons.

Split peas, farm toys and blocks for building.

Big bowls in the sink with different ingredients to mix like flour, cocoa powder, koolaid mix. Big spoons and little bowls too. The science glasses are just a fun touch.


Water, cups, sea creatures… he added the cars?

Ice And sticks from an ice storm… with arctic animals, plastic gems and an airplane for some reason.


Some water, buckets and rings with big spoons for little ones is so satisfying for them.


Purple sand and water with scoops and sea animals.


Dirt, split peas with trucks and shovels.

Mermaids, water beads, scoops shells and toys.


Pink cloud dough, sprinkles, play ice cream toys.


Corn starch with a little water and brown paint, spoons and brushes for excavating dinos.  


Rice spoons and cups with a few cars. The 7 year old also got right into it.


Do you have any pictures of sensory bins that you have created with your kids?  Share them with us here or post them in our Facebook Group!

  • Elsie
    July 23, 2019 - 10:31 am

    Hi I am not able to see any of the pictures of the sensory bins.

    • Parent Guide
      July 27, 2019 - 11:06 am

      Hi Elsie – sorry about that. I am not sure what happened to the images. Here they are now. Thank you!

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