Sensory bins are a great way to engage toddlers in fun and educational play activities. These bins are designed to provide sensory experiences that stimulate their senses, including sight, touch, smell, and sound. This can help with fine motor skills, brain development. Toddler sensory bins are popular among parents and educators because they offer a variety of benefits for young children. From experience we can tell you kids love sensory bins, they are so much fun! In this article, we will explore what sensory bins for toddlers are, what you need to create them, what you need to look out for, and what is age-appropriate. We will also show you some ready-made sensory bins you can buy and use straight out of the box.
What are sensory bins?
Sensory bins are containers filled with materials that encourage children to use their senses. These materials can include items such as rice, sand, water beads, beans, or even shredded paper. Children are encouraged to play with the materials using their hands, tools, and sometimes even their feet. Sensory bin ideas for toddlers can revolve around a theme, like arctic, garden, and many more. A fun thing is when sensory bins are themed around certain holidays or seasons, such as a Halloween-themed bin filled with spider webs, plastic spiders, and creepy crawly sensory objects.
What do you need to create a sensory bin for toddlers?
To create a simple toddler sensory bin, you will need a container, sensory materials, and tools for exploration. You can grab lots of basic supplies from the dollar store and make your own sensory bins.
The container can be anything from a plastic container to a large bowl, depending on the size of the materials you are using. Plastic sensory bins are great if you want to use liquids in them, but you can also use a wooden tray for example for a rice sensory bin or other dry fillers. You can also use a sensory table, which usually comes with sensory bins for you to use, making it super convenient to have a designated space for your sensory bin ideas. They are also great if you want to have one activity for one bin and another for the other bin – great for multiple kids!
Sensory bin fillers can vary depending on the theme of the sensory bin, but some popular options include:
- Food items (like uncooked rice, pasta, dry beans)
- Sand or dirt
- Water or foam
- Water beads or gelatin
- Shredded paper or fabric
- Playdough or slime
- Pom-poms or feathers
- Natural materials (like leaves, bark, stones, and pinecones)
- Kinetic sand
- Shaving cream
For some of the sensory bin fillers you can add food coloring to make it more interesting and create colored rice, water, and more.
There are many tools that can be used to manipulate the sensory bin materials. You can even have kids use their hands and fingers to explore the sensory bins for toddlers or use household items like measuring cups.
- Scoops and spoons: Small scoops and spoons of different sizes and shapes can be used to scoop, pour, and transfer materials in the bin.
- Tongs and tweezers: Fine motor tools like tongs and tweezers can be used to pick up small objects in the bin. They help to develop hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
- Shovels and rakes: They can be used to dig and move larger materials in the sensory bins, such as sand or gravel.
- Strainers and colanders: They can be used to sift through materials in the bin, separating small objects from larger ones.
- Magnifying glasses: With these you can take a closer look at small objects in the bin, encouraging observation and curiosity.
- Play dough tools: Tools like rollers, cutters, and molds can be used to shape and mold materials in the sensory bin.
- Spray bottles: Spray bottles filled with water can be used to mist materials in the bin, adding a new dimension to sensory play.
- Brushes: Small brushes can be used to sweep and move materials in the sensory bin, creating patterns and textures.
- Sponges: They can be used to absorb and transfer water or other liquids in the sensory bin, encouraging exploration of different textures and properties.
- Containers: Small containers like cups or jars can be used to pour and transfer materials in the sensory bin, creating new patterns and designs.
What do you need to look out for?
When creating sensory bins for toddlers, it is important to keep safety in mind. Make sure that the sensory materials you are using are non-toxic and do not pose a choking hazard. Do sensory bin play only with adult supervision and ensure that they are not putting any of the materials in their mouths, especially small items. If you are using water in your sensory bin, make sure that the container is placed on a waterproof mat or in an area that is easy to clean up.
What is age-appropriate?
Sensory play is appropriate for children of all ages, but certain materials may be more appropriate for certain age groups. For example, younger children may benefit from playing with larger materials, such as foam blocks or soft balls. You don’t want any choking hazards for young kids! Older children may enjoy more complex sensory experiences, such as creating their own slime or experimenting with different textures.
We want to show you some sensory bins for toddlers that you can buy or use as inspiration for sensory bin ideas for toddlers if you want to recreate something similar.
Tractor Sand Construction Sensory Bin
The best part about this fun sensory bin is that it’s self-contained and easy to clean up, so you won’t have to worry about a big mess. This set includes 2 lbs of play sand, construction signs and cones, working figures, mold set, roller, dump truck, excavator and bulldozer. It’s great for creative building and digging. Your kids can even use the cones to make sand sculptures!
Ocean and Sand Sensory Bin
This great sensory bin comes with soft sensory sand, water beads, ocean animal toys, and a variety of sensory tools, all conveniently packed in a bin with a lid for easy storage. It’s perfect for kids ages 3 and up, with beginner skill levels and it provides the ultimate sensory experience for your kids.
Benefits of sensory bins for toddlers
- Encouraging creativity and imagination
- Promoting fine motor skills development
- Stimulating language development
- Developing cognitive and problem-solving skills
- Enhancing social skills and emotional regulation
Sensory bins for toddlers are so fun while also being educational and stimulating. With a bit of research for sensory bin ideas for toddlers (we also love Pinterest for great ideas) and some basic supplies, you can create a sensory experience that will keep your little one entertained for hours while promoting their development and learning. Just remember to keep safety in mind and always supervise your child during sensory play.