17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (2024)

Sensory bins open up a world of exploration and creative play. They are a fun and effective way to introduce multi-sensory learning. There are so many sensory bin ideas to explore. You can be creative and design them based on your child’s learning needs.

What Do Kids Learn from Sensory Bins?

When kids learn in a multi-sensory environment, their brains make new connections. This results in better learning making sensory bin play a highly effective learning tool.

Here are some of the developmental benefits of sensory bins:

Sensory Exploration

Kids of all ages can enjoy multi-sensory play. Different textures, loose parts, and open-ended play options encourage imagination and creativity.

Cognitive Development

Sensory bin ideas should include items of different sizes, shapes, and colors. This can help children learn to sort, categorize and match.

Social Interaction

Sensory bin play encourages sharing, communication, and cooperation between kids. Imaginative play helps them learn about societal norms and interpersonal relationships.

Fine Motor Skills

A good sensory bin includes scoops, tongs, tweezers, and bowls. These all help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in young children.

Vocabulary and Abstract Concepts

When you fill a sensory bin with different objects and substances, kids can learn to make comparisons between them. This includes new vocabulary and concepts like liquid, solid, and density.

How Do You Make a Good Sensory Bin?

An awesome sensory bin allows enough space for immersive play. Try and fill it with things that encourage discovery, exploration, and curiosity. Sensory play should be open-ended and imaginative.

Best Sensory Bin Fillers

For the best sensory experience, include different textures and substances.

  • Water beads
  • Colored water
  • Sand
  • Rice
  • Shredded paper
  • Beans
  • Shaving Cream
  • Oats
  • Corn Flour (plain or mixed with water)
  • Dried chickpeas
  • Themed toys
  • Tools such as scoops, bowls, spoons, syringes

17 Sensory Bin Ideas for Kids

1. Beach-Themed Sensory Bin

17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (1)

by The Scott Cottage

You can use a selection of containers for your sensory bin, like this large dish. This summer bin allows you to incorporate different textures, colors, and substances. It allows for open-ended play options.

Fun variation: Add some vinegar and baking soda to create frothy waves.

What’s Inside:

  • Kinetic sand
  • Water (dyed with blue food coloring)
  • Shells
  • Sea creatures

2. Forest-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Teaching and Training Blog

Using greenery and natural elements makes this sensory bin a riot of textures. You can make a forest-themed bin from items you have at home or in the garden. You can add stones, bark, and twigs to bulk up the sensory bin.

Fun Variation: Add some plastic mushrooms and fairies for a magical woodland theme.

What’s Inside:

  • Pinecones
  • Woodland Animals
  • Faux greenery
  • Wooden loose parts

3. Halloween-Themed Sensory Bin

17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (3)

by Pre-K Pages

If you are looking for an edible sensory bin, then using cooked spaghetti is a great option. You can make it in various colors and incorporate other textures by adding dry pasta shapes.

Fun Variation: Add a section of orange lentils for another texture. Jack-o-lantern bowls are fun for filling and sorting.

What’s Inside:

  • Dyed spaghetti
  • Tongs/Scooper Scissors
  • Play spiders
  • Plastic eyeballs

4. Spring-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Jessica Etcetera

Spring is a great time to take your sensory bin outside. A simple gardening bin allows for creativity and imagination. It also helps kids learn about caring for plants. This type of sensory bin is tactile and encourages motor skill development.

Fun Variation: Add actual soil to dig in. For extra messy fun, add water for some muddy play.

What’s Inside:

  • Dried chickpeas
  • Faux flowers
  • Terracotta pots
  • Watering can
  • Gardening tools

5. Dinosaur-Themed Sensory Bin

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by dadsnet

Warmer weather means messy play outside. This dino world ticks all the right boxes with imaginative play and sensory fun. Most kids go through a dinosaur phase, and it is a great open-ended play theme.

Fun Variation: Add rocks and loose parts to really get their creativity flowing. If you are feeling adventurous, try an erupting volcano. Use baking soda, vinegar, and red food coloring to create a frothing explosion.

What’s Inside:

  • Gravel
  • Dinosaurs
  • Sand
  • Straw
  • Greenery

6. Fine-Motor Sensory Bin

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by A Beautiful Mess

You can make a sensory bin with items you have at home. For example, you can use dried beans and colored rice many times, and they are simple to clean up. This kind of sensory bin encourages fine motor skills, making it ideal for little hands.

Fun Variation: Add different-sized bowls and bottles and incorporate dried pasta.

What’s Inside:

  • Pom Poms
  • Beans
  • Colored rice
  • Scoops/Bowls
  • Tweezers/Tongs

7. Magical Sensory Bin

17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (7)

by The Mama Notes

Your imagination can run wild with this sensory bin, and you can tailor it to your child’s interests. Kinetic sand is a fantastic filler that won’t damage the other items. Stick with larger items for young children.

Fun Variation: You can choose any magical them for this kind of bin. Think fairies, dragons, or even mermaids.

What’s Inside:

  • Colored Kinetic Sand
  • Sequins
  • Glitter
  • Glitter pom poms
  • Unicorn toys
  • Faux gems/gold
  • Scoops

8. Ice-Cream Sensory Bin

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by Learning Resources

What child doesn’t love ice cream? This fun sensory bin idea is ideal for collaborative play. It also incorporates fine motor skills development.

Fun Variation: Instead of pom-poms, use playdough. This is an extra tactile element for kids to scoop and mold. The ‘sprinkles’ will also stick to it, allowing you other options like lentils and pasta.

What’s Inside:

  • Ice-cream cones
  • Pom pom
  • Colored rice
  • Ice-cream scoop
  • Paper Cups

9. Colored Pasta Sensory Bin

17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (9)

by The Scott Cottage

Colored pasta is a versatile sensory bin filler that you can reuse. This is a beautiful example of just how creative kids can be with dried pasta. A coral reef is an open-ended idea that allows kids to explore and create.

Fun Variation: Add some mermaids and blue dried chickpeas for more immersive play.

What’s Inside:

  • Sand
  • Colored pasta (variety of shapes)
  • Ocean creatures
  • Shells

10. Color Sorting Sensory Bin

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by Play to Learn Preschool

This sensory bin incorporates sorting, color identification, and fine motor skills. It will keep kids busy while helping them learn and develop.

Fun Variation: You can add different size bottles so that kids have to categorize them by size and color.

What’s Inside:

  • Color pom poms
  • Large tweezers/tongs
  • Plastic bottles labeled with a color

11. Harvest Time Sensory Bin

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by Pre-K Pages

Spend some time outdoors before the weather turns with this fun sensory bin. Popcorn kernels make a versatile, textured filler. You can use real food like baby carrots and corn that your kids can enjoy as a snack.

Fun Variation: Add a farmyard section with sand and wood shavings for extra textural elements. You can also play some fun, relatable songs like ‘Old MacDonald.’

What’s Inside:

  • Popcorn kernels
  • Farm toys and animals
  • Toy tractor

12. Safari Sensory Bin

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by Learning for Littles

African animals are fascinating for kids. Incorporate them into your sensory bin for something educational and fun. This kind of bin works well for discussing different habitats. It also allows you to create different sensory areas.

Fun Variation: Add water beads for another texture. Play animal sounds in the background for an auditory element.

What’s Inside:

  • Wild animal toys
  • Stones
  • Dried chickpeas
  • Wooden loose parts
  • Green split peas

13. Winter-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Barley and Birch

This sensory bin is the perfect indoor activity when it’s cold out. Corn flour is a versatile filler that has an interesting texture. Layer the snow effect using cotton balls, fake snow (if you have it), and small mirrors.

Fun Variation: Place an ice block or two on the mirror and watch the texture of the corn flour change as they melt.

What’s Inside:

  • Corn flour
  • Pinecones
  • Wooden loose parts
  • Sprigs of greenery
  • Cotton balls

14. Bird-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Mama Megan Allysa

Bird seed is a fantastic filler because it contains a variety of textures. You can also repurpose it for another activity like making bird feeders. Play bird sounds in the background and include materials for your kids to build their own nests.

Fun Variations: Add wooden loose parts and garden elements to create a whole ecosystem.

What’s Inside:

  • Mixed bird seed
  • Nests
  • Toy birds
  • Small wooden eggs
  • Jars
  • Scoops

15. Fall-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Made with Happy

Fall is an excellent theme for a sensory bin because it is a riot of color and textures. Leaves, nuts, and seeds are all perfect for sorting and categorizing.

Fun Variation: Swap out plastic elements for the real thing. Leaves, acorns, twigs, and pinecones are rich sensory elements.

What’s Inside:

  • Fall leaves (real or fake)
  • Pinecones
  • Plastic pumpkins and gourds
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Glass gems
  • Tongs/scoops

16. Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

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by Hello Wonderful

Shaving cream is a popular sensory bin filler because it lends itself to many themes. From underwater fun like this sensory bin to a swamp-themed bin, shaving cream is a filler kids love.

Fun Variation: Add water beads to your shaving cream for another texture.

What’s Inside:

  • Shaving cream (with or without food coloring)
  • Sea animals

17. Pond-Themed Sensory Bin

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by Messy Little Monster

Water beads are a common sensory bin filler that results in hours of play. This is a simple pond-themed sensory bin that leaves room for open-ended play. Try leaving the elements separate and let your kids create the sensory bin collaboratively.

Fun Variation: Add rocks, gravel, insects, and real leaves to prolong play.

What’s Inside:

  • Blue and green water beads
  • Faux greenery and lily pads
  • Toy frogs
  • Scoop

Sensory Bins Aren’t Just for Toddlers

Sensory bin play ideas are limited only by your imagination. You can make them as simple or complex as you like based on your kids. They are an effective teaching tool for home or the classroom. Sensory bins incorporate the senses and enhance overall development.

If you haven’t tried a sensory bin yet, what are you waiting for?

17 Sensory Bin Ideas + The Best Bin Fillers (2024)
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