The Ultimate Sensory Bin Ideas Guide for Kids of All Ages

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These sensory bin ideas provide endless hours of fun, creativity, and learning for children of all ages. Ready to dive into the world of sensory play and learning? In this guide, we’ll explore the best sensory bins for imaginative play and skill development.

As a neurodivergent adult, I know from my childhood that sensory play helped me learn to explore and enjoy new textures and experiences. So let’s get started on this sensory bin extravaganza!

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Deluxe Construction Sensory Bin, Construction Sensory, Taste Safe, Montessori
Pet Sensory Bin, Sensory Bin, Sensory Kit, Sensory Kit for Kids, Girls...
Occupational Therapy Winter Sensory Bin Fine Motor Skills Messy Play Small World...
Fairy Garden Sensory Bin | Play Kit | Montessori Play Kit |...
Last update was on: May 19, 2024 10:59 PM

Sensory Bins Overview

Sensory bins are all the rage these days, and for good reason! They’re engaging, versatile, and provide a fantastic way for children to explore their senses while playing and learning. Here's an overview of what you need to know about sensory bins.

What are sensory bins?

Sensory bins are containers filled with materials that stimulate children’s sight, hearing, touch, smell, and sometimes taste. They come in various shapes, sizes, and themes, offering endless possibilities for exploration and learning.

Sensory bins provide a great way for a busy toddler or older kid to explore their senses through tactile play. They can be themed to any holiday or academic skill. Enjoy watching your child explore and interact as they engage with these sensory play activities.

Sensory bins are often used in early childhood education, but they make an ideal imaginative play activity for home settings as well. They are an essential tool for professionals who support children with disabilities, such as occupational therapists, school psychologists, and special education teachers.

What ages can use sensory bins?

People of all ages can enjoy sensory bins — you're never too old!

We mostly think of sensory bins for toddlers, but beyond early childhood brain development, they provide both enjoyable sensory experiences and beneficial sensory input to older kids, teens, and adults. They are especially helpful for children and adults with autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other disabilities.

-50% hand2mind Into The Garden Sensory Activity Kit, Loose Parts Play Materials, Fine...
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-40% Educational Insights Playfoam Naturals Sensory Set, Sensory Bin with Tools, Fine Motor...
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Made By Me Explore + Create Unicorn Sensory Bin - Sensory Bins...
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Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

What are the educational benefits of sensory bins?

Sensory bins are not just fun, they are also highly educational. According to Julie Anderson, Ph. D. of the University of Puget Sound, children can learn many different skills through sensory play, including:

  • Fine motor skills: Activities such as grasping, squeezing, and searching for hidden items
  • Mathematical and scientific concepts: Actions like counting, measuring, mixing, pouring, dumping, stacking, and comparing lay the groundwork for learning about math and science.
  • Literacy development: Activities like identifying and arranging letters, narrating stories during play, and learning new vocabulary words contribute to literacy development.
  • Social skills: Interactions involving sharing, cooperation, and working with others foster the growth of social skills.

Sensory Bin Safety

Are sensory bins safe for young children?

Sensory bin play can be a safe activity for young children. Always supervise play and be mindful of choking hazards and allergies when selecting materials.

Who should not use sensory bins?

Sensory bins may not be appropriate for children and adults with significant intellectual disabilities if they are not capable of understanding that the toys and filler are not food. This is especially true if the person has pica — a disorder where they frequently eat non-food items. In those cases, you'll need to use a container filled with only edible items, or use other types of sensory toys.

If your child cannot use a sensory bin due to pica or other safety factors, sensory bags are a great alternative as the items are safely contained within a sealed pouch.

The Benefits of Sensory Bins for Children with Autism

Sensory bins can be particularly beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other disabilities. Children on the autism spectrum often experience sensory processing difficulties, meaning they may be over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli. Sensory bins provide a controlled environment where your neurodivergent child can explore different sensory experiences at their own pace and comfort level.

The varied textures, colors, and materials in a sensory bin can help autistic children develop their sensory processing skills, making them more comfortable with different sensory experiences in their everyday lives. Sensory bins can also aid in the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and language development, as children manipulate the materials and toys in the bin and talk about their experiences.

Sensory bins can have a calming effect on kids with autism, providing a focus for their attention and a distraction from potentially stressful or overwhelming situations. They also allow for self-directed sensory play and hands on learning, which can boost confidence and independence.

It's important to tailor your sensory bin ideas to the individual child's needs and preferences, and to provide appropriate supervision and support.

Lakeside Sensory Kit
Sensory Bin, Camping Sensory Bin, Sensory Kit, Sensory Kit for Kids, Sensory...
Woodland Sensory Bin Kit
Mermaid Sensory Bin Filler Kit | Sensory Table Pretend Play | Wooden...
CUSTOM Farm Sensory Bin
Last update was on: May 19, 2024 10:59 PM

 

Pre-Made Sensory Bin Ideas

Setting up sensory play stations in your classroom or home can be time-consuming. These pre-made kits provide children with an awesome multi sensory activity that is easy to set up quickly. The sets encourage fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination. Themed sensory bin sets feature time-honored classic topics kids love such as dinosaurs, construction vehicles, unicorns, and more.

Sensory Bin, Camping Sensory Bin, Sensory Kit, Sensory Kit for Kids, Sensory Bin for Toddler, Sensory Bin Kit, Sensory Bins for Kindergarten

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$33.99
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as of May 19, 2024 10:59 PM

Honey Bee sensory bin set- Small

This sensory kit provides everything you need for your children to explore their imagination with a variety of bee-themed activities. It helps develop fine motor skills, get in ...

Bug hunt sensory bin set- Small, insects sensory kit , sensoryplay, insect spring exploration

This bug hunt sensory kit will have your preschooler and toddler exploring and learning with their hands. Sensory play helps develop fine motor skills, get in tune with their ...

Ocean Sensory Kit, Homeschool Summer Sensory Play Kits, Sea life Colored rice sensory bin filler, Waldorf homeschool sensory kit

Sensory Play is a great fine motor skills activity. It promotes speech, reduces anxiety and connects neural pathways in the brain, which sets children up for better success in ...

Make an Apple Pie | Sensory Bin | Preschool Apple Unit Study Game | Homeschool Learning

Make some apple pies and crisps with this apple themed sensory bin. Use the direction card to add what you need for each pie or crisp, add it to the pie pan. Work on number ...

Stir Up A Storm | Sensory Bin | Preschool Weather Unit Study Game | Homeschool Learning

Mix up a storm with this fun weather themed sensory bin. Use the direction card to add what you need for each storm, add it to the bowl and start mixing. Work on number ...

Dinosaur Sensory Bin #2, Dinosaur Sensory, Taste Safe, Montessori

Our sensory bins are bright, fun and draw children in to play. Every bin has been tested by my preschool classroom to make sure every part of the bin is loved and used by little ...

Frog Pond Sensory Play Kit (PlayDay Crate Surplus, Limited Quantities)

Feeling Froggy? Hop on over to our Frogtastic Sensory Kit. Everything needed for a complete sensory bin including filler, tools, and accessories ships in as little 2 days. ...

Fall sensory bin loose parts tinker tray, Montessori toy, Sensory kit, Fall sensory toy, Resin letters, Homeschool, Fine motor, Kids...

I’ve been a pediatric occupational therapist for the past 28 years, and I'm sharing some of the toys and activities used in therapy sessions to enhance fine motor and sensory ...

Creativity for Kids Sensory Bin: Construction Zone Playset - Sandbox Truck Toys for Kids

1 used from $14.23
Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Carolart Dinosaur Sensory Bin,Dinosaur Toys for Toddler Boys and Girls,Include Glow in The Dark Dinosaur,Easy Storage Sensory Toys

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

If you don't see just the right kit featured above, check out our favorite small businesses that make totally unique options: Joyful Play Shop, Ella Roos Academy, and Busy Bee Sensory Canada.

 

Dough Bin Ideas

These bins are designed around Play-Doh or cloud dough for hours of fantastic fun squeezing and stretching!

Ice cream playdough kit, ice cream sensory bin, kids birthday gift, toddler gift, summer sensory kit , kids christmas stocking...

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!! This fun playdough kit is perfect for indoor play during hot summer days or for gifting to your child. The handmade playdough ...

Pokemon playdough kit, gamer sensory bin, kids activity box, pretend play kit, sensory kit, toddler gift pokemon party favor, christmas...

Do you have a Pokemon crazy little? This Pokemon playdough kit is perfect for encouraging pretend play without the screen or gaming system. The handmade playdough is taste safe ...

Minecraft Gamer Playdough Kit | Sensory Bin | Pretend Play | Busy Bin | Minecraft | Video Game | Gifts...

Engage in screen free creativity with a Minecraft themed playdough kit! Your little learner will love building their very own video game scene with this play dough sensory kit. ...

Airplane Vacation Playdough Kit | Sensory Bin | Pretend Play | Open Ended Play | Educational Toys | Airport |...

Let your imagination take flight with this engaging air travel exploration! Includes 4 aircraft, miniature luggage, a boarding pass, clouds, a rainbow, an earth miniature, trees, ...

Happy Camper Camping Kid Kit, Camping Playdough Kit, Wilderness Sensory, Playdough Kit, Play Doh Kit, Easter Playdoh, Easter Gift Basket

Hit the trails and experience nature while roasting marshmallows by the campfire with the Happy Camper Kid Kit! Local buyers (Cypress Texas area) Message me for Promo Code to ...

Farm play dough kit, tractor, barn, animals, playdough set, playdoh, gift

This Farm playdough kit includes: 1 set of figures 2 eco/bio dough cutters.. 1 barn and 1 tractor 3 jars of 5.5 oz homemade, all natural play dough various ...

To see more dough sensory kits, check out these small businesses: Kids World US, Learning Safari, and Kids Kit USA.

 

Water Bin Ideas

Water bins encourage imaginative play and exploration using water, making them a refreshing alternative to traditional sensory bins.

 

Kinetic Sand Bins and Kits

Sandboxes are a classic, and for good reason — they're simple, fun, and tap into kids' natural instinct to explore. 

 

Sensory Trays

Sensory trays are more compact and work well in small spaces, and for older kids and adults who are less messy. You'll love these creative sensory tray ideas. 

Pond playscape sensory tray cherry wood tinker bin homeschool lesson play board plate lake toy Montessori spring summer setup activity

Our pond or lake playscape tray is made out of premium cherry wood. It’s a perfect play tray for all types of play, plus it has tons of room for any sensory items or trinkets, ...

Soil Layers sensory tray cherry wood educational homeschool lesson activity supplies Montessori learning board wooden toy earth dirt

Our soil layers tray is perfect for any geology lessons! Each layer is engraved with the corresponding layer for easy memorization. The wood grain and characteristics in the wood ...

Sea Turtle Eco Sensory Tray, Playdough, Filler, Sensory Play, Gift

Sea Turtle Eco Sensory Tray Made by CJEcoPlay Perfect for sensory fillers, or playdough Use for decor or food as well **Round woven tray and other items NOT included** ...

DESERT landscape cherry wood sensory board sorting tinker tray homeschool fall sun cactus dunes lesson play board pretend Montessori plate

Handcrafted Desert sensory play tray made out of premium cherry wood. The wood grain and characteristics in the wood differ with each tray, mineral streaks (darker streaks) in the ...

For more fabulous handmade sensory trays, check out Ella's Create and Play and Barn Owl Kids.

 

Sensory Tables

Sensory tables are an excellent tool for kids' sensory fun. They offer a broader platform for exploration and learning. Sensory tables are particularly beneficial in group settings like classrooms or playdates, allowing multiple children to engage with the materials simultaneously. This encourages cooperative play and social interaction. With adjustable heights and various compartments, sensory tables cater to different age groups and needs, making them a versatile choice for sensory play.

Made in USA Sensory Table with Flisat Bins, Activity Table, Indoor Water Table

Our sensory table encourages learning and exploration! This activity table is perfect for all types of sensory play and fun. Our Sensory Table is designed and handcrafted by us in ...

Toddler Sensory Kids Table with Lid | Sensory Bin | Kidoozie | Mega Block Compatible Lid | Indoor Outdoor Use...

3 used from $26.06
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Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Children's Factory, 1135-24, Large Sensory Table & Lid, Kids Playroom & Classroom Autism Activity, Daycare or Preschool Learning Activities, 24"H,...

4 used from $170.30
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Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

 

The Art of Creating a Sensory Bin

Yes, you can buy pre-made sensory bins, but creating a sensory bin is more rewarding. It's like being a child's playtime architect, designing a world of different textures, colors, and experiences that will stimulate their senses and foster their creativity. But, how do you create a sensory bin? Just follow these steps.

Consider Your Child's Needs and Preferences

When designing sensory bin ideas for your child, consider their age, interests, and developmental requirements. Always take your child’s sensory preferences into account. Some kids may enjoy the feeling of dry rice or beans, while others may prefer the sensation of soapy water or sand.

For toddlers, opt for taste-safe materials and larger items to minimize choking hazards. As your child grows, you can introduce more complex sensory bin themes and materials to challenge their skills and keep them engaged.

If your child has a developmental delay or other disability, consider how you can make the best sensory bin for their specific needs. Does your child need to work on fine motor skills? Do they seek out certain sensations? Are they repulsed by particular textures? Do they have a favorite color or special interest that you can incorporate into sensory bin ideas?

Never push your neurodivergent child beyond their limits with tactile stimuli — that's a recipe for sensory overload and a meltdown. If you're trying to introduce an unfamiliar texture or desensitize your child to a stimulus that bothers them, start slowly. Fill the sensory bin with items they love and just one unfamiliar or less pleasant one, then make it a treasure hunt where they'll get a reward for finding and touching or holding the item. Never “sneak” items that might cause discomfort into the bin without telling your child — that's a betrayal of their trust and could give them anxiety about engaging in sensory play in the future.

Choose a Sensory Bin Theme

Creating a sensory bin starts with choosing a theme or purpose for the bin. Some sensory bin ideas include designing around a particular sensory experience you want to provide, a skill you want to help develop, or a topic of interest to your child. This acts as the foundation of your sensory bin, guiding the selection of materials and toys to include.

Sensory Bin Containers

A sensory bin container sets the boundaries for your sensory play universe and should be large enough to hold your chosen materials and toys, but shallow enough for the child to reach in and explore. It can be anything from a large plastic tub or bucket to a shallow dish or tray. Dish tubs or shoebox storage containers make great indoor containers. You can also buy a dedicated sensory table with one or more integrated bins. These are especially good for school classrooms. I recommend box with lids so you can stack them for storage and not worry about them spilling if they get knocked over. You don't want to spend hours sweeping up rice! 

Here are some simple containers we recommend:

STERILITE 19638606 Large Clip Box, Clear with Blue Aquarium Latches 2 pieces (Large)

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Sterilite 16 Quart Basic Clear Storage Box with White Lid (Pack of 2)

2 used from $21.00
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Sensory Bin Fillers

The sensory materials, or fillers, are the stars of the sensory bin. These can be any materials that are safe for the child to touch. The sensory bin fillers you choose should align with your theme or purpose and provide a variety of textures for the child's senses to explore.

Some examples of sensory bin fillers include:

  • Dry rice
  • Dry pasta
  • Corn kernels
  • Water beads
  • Sand
  • Cloud dough
  • Pom poms
  • Kidfetti

Some sensory bin filler material can be dyed using food coloring. Try using your child's favorite colors, especially if they are tactile defensive or anxious about touching items in the bin.

Here are some excellent sensory bin fillers to get you started:

Summer Meadow Sensory Bin Filler

Grassy green hues combined with elements of pink, purple, yellow, and orange. Each batch is hand dyed and scented to order with taste safe ingredients. Approximately 6 cups of ...

Sensory Bin Refill Rainbow Pastel Colored rice, Make your own sensory tray, pick your own colors

Build your own sensory tray using our ready made colored rice. Rainbow beans and rainbow pasta also available. Please see other listings. *Cost to ship is the same whether you ...

Apples Sensory Filler, Sensory Bin Filler, Colored Peas, Fall Sensory Play, Bright Sensory Bin Filler, Montessori

Colored chickpeas are an amazing sensory bin filler for kids. Perfect for pouring scooping and is the perfect texture to keep your kiddos engaged for a long time. I just love how ...

Rainbow Pasta, Sensory Bin Filler, Colored Pasta, Rainbow Sensory Play, Bright Sensory Bin Filler, Taste Safe, Montessori

Our sensory bins are bright, fun and draw children in to play. Every bin has been tested by my preschool classroom to make sure every part of the bin is loved and used by little ...

Tropical Alphabet Pasta, Sensory Bin Filler, Colored Pasta, Alphabet Sensory Play, Bright Sensory Bin Filler, Taste Safe, Montessori

Our sensory bins are bright, fun and draw children in to play. Every bin has been tested by my preschool classroom to make sure every part of the bin is loved and used by little ...

175,000 (1LB) Marbled,Water Beads,Bulk,Orbeez,Summer toy,vase filler,sensory play kit,Touch Therapy,orbies,Water balls,stress balls,plants

Each order includes: 1 Pound of Marbled Water Beads (aprox 175,000 water beads) Choose from 9 Color Options: Purple, Pink, Yellow, Orange, Red, Green, Aqua, Blue,

150,000 (1LB) Jumbo Water Beads,Bulk,Orbeez,jelly beads,orbies,centerpiece,vase filler,sensory play,Therapy,summer toy,water pearls for kit

Each order includes: 1 Pound of Jumbo Water Beads (aprox 150,000 water beads) Each Jumbo sized water bead will get to be between 3/4" - 1" Shipping is free on purchases over $35 ...

Pasta Coral Reef | Coral Reef Mix |Sensory Bin |Coral reef pasta | Under the sea | Loose parts play...

These sensory bin ideas provide endless hours of fun, creativity, and learning for children of all ages. Ready to dive into the world of sensory play and learning? In this guide, ...

S&S Worldwide Coloriffic Sensory Pellets, 5lb Bag

Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

MIKNEKE 81 PCS Wooden Loose Parts Sensory Bin Filler Toys, Mandala Rainbow Stacker Open Ended Toys, 27 Colors Sensory Training...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Yaomiao 90 Pcs Fine Motor Skills Counting Sorting Sensory Bin Filler Toy Set Matching Game Include 72 Hedge Ball 4...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

We highly recommend the small business Sensory N' Stuff for affordable and safe fillers, and The Sensory Sisters for UK residents.

Sensory Bin Toys

Finally, add toys or objects to the sensory bin filler. These should also align with your theme or purpose and provide additional opportunities for sensory exploration and play. For example, if you're creating a beach-themed sensory bin, you might include small plastic sea creatures, shells, and a mini bucket and spade. Dollar store finds, household items, and even food coloring can be used to craft the perfect sensory experience.

Remember, the aim of a sensory bin is to provide an engaging sensory experience for the child. So, feel free to get creative and experiment with different themes, materials, and objects. For more sensory bin ideas, explore various materials and textures to keep things interesting. There are no hard and fast rules, just opportunities for sensory fun!

Here are some fun toys you can use to make a fabulous themed sensory bin:

Heart Loose Parts, Resin Hearts, Sensory bin hearts, Montessori, Reggio, Counting Hearts, Pretend Play

I am offering a collection of hearts for sensory bins or loose parts. They are perfect for finding inside of the sensory bins using them as counting objects, just for playing ...

BOLEY Monster (15-Pack) Large 7" Toy Dinosaurs Set - Enormous Variety of Authentic Type Plastic Dinosaurs - Great as Dinosaur...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Animals Figure,54 Piece Mini Jungle Animals Toys Set,ValeforToy Realistic Wild Vinyl Plastic Animal Learning Party Favors Toys for Boys Girls...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Ocean Sea Animal, 52 Pack Assorted Mini Vinyl Plastic Animal Toy Set, Funcorn Toys Realistic Under The Sea Life Figure...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Yunaking 130PCS Mochi Squishy Toy, Kawaii Animals Squishies Party Favors for Kids Stress Relief Toy Valentines Day Gifts for Kids...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

nobasco Squishies, 30 Pack Mochi Squishy Toys - Kawaii Cat Squishys Slow Rising Animals - Party Favors, Goodie Bag, Birthday...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Butter Slime Kit for Girls and Boys 11pack with Scent,Stretchy and Non-Sticky,Stress Relief Toy,Birthday Gift and Party Favors

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

Safari Ltd. Flowers TOOB - Mini Figurines of Rose, Tulip, Hibiscus, Bird of Paradise, Daffodil, Sunflower, Lotus, Orchid - Educational...

Free shipping
Last update was on: May 26, 2024 1:01 PM

If you're looking for small trinkets for sensory kits, Speech and Smile, a small business owned by a pediatric speech-language therapist, has an amazing selection.

 

Keep Exploring Sensory Bin Ideas

Sensory bins offer a fantastic way for kids to explore their senses, engage in imaginative play, and develop crucial skills. From bins for toddlers to older kids and adults, there’s an option for every person and every need. So, go ahead and dive into the wonderful world of sensory play, and watch as your child’s imagination and skills flourish!

Frog Lifecycle Kit | Frog Pond | Frog Sensory Kit | Lifecycles...
Flower Sensory Bin, Spring Sensory, Taste Safe, Montessori
Lemonade Sensory Bin for Toddlers
Rocky Shores Sensory Kit
Last update was on: May 19, 2024 10:59 PM

Check Out More Sensory Play Resources in The Ability Toolbox

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Hey I'm Olivia and I'm a proud Autistic woman. My special interests are cats, stim toys, and electronic music! I love to write and help other Autistic adults find ways to enjoy life in this LOUD world!

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Dr. Wilson graduated from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL. Dr. Wilson specializes in providing culturally competent and trauma-informed care to patients with physical disabilities. In addition to her private practice, she works as a science communicator, teaching health literacy to middle school and high school students in her local school district. 

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