Sensory Bin Basics

It’s no secret that we love Sensory Bins in our house. We tend to use them to entertain the kids more often than not! Sensory Bins have countless benefits for your little one.


Promotes tactile and hands on learning. Allowing them an activity where they are free to explore and play on their own gives them the opportunity to learn through their senses (it’s called sensory play for a reason) while enhancing their gross and fine motor skills. Helping to clean up any spills, like using their fingers to pick up the small grains of rice, gives them the opportunity to practice and strengthen their fine motor skills. So does using pinchers, grabbers, or tweezers!

Fosters creativity and independent play. Sensory bins provide open ended play that really helps kids develop creativity through independent play! Exploring in their sensory bins, gives kids the space to discover how the world of actions and reactions work. Like what happens if I dump out this cup? Or what happens if I knock over this scoop? They can see an immediate reaction to whatever their actions are. With themed bins, they are able to use their imagination to play with the different animals and toys that are inside the bins, like how the construction trucks are moving through the construction site in our construction bin or how the cows can move from one field to another in our farm bin.

Encourages language development. I’ve mentioned Oliver’s speech delay a few times before and I feel the need to touch on it once again with sensory bins. This activity gives us the opportunity to introduce new words into his vocabulary and repeat words he already knows. Using words like scoop/pour/dump/spill/dig are all words that we use repeatedly while playing with our bins. After enough repetition he has started to use the words to describe what is happening without being prompted. When he is given the opportunity for independent play, his imagination really takes flight and his language runs wild! When we do our construction bin, he has a blast making all the truck sounds and the “crash” of the dirt that the trucks dump out or move around, or acting out the animals sounds in our farm bin.

Improves mindfulness in children. Mindfulness is a topic of child development that I find fascinating. In a nutshell, its all about helping a child stay in the present when working on a specific activity or project. According to GoodStart Early Learning, this way of playing teaches children how to keep their focus on a specific topic or task and helps them to teach the mind how to return to the point of focus when it starts to wander. Sensory bins provide an activity that can eliminate outside distractions and keep kids “in the moment”. They are a great way to help your child improve on their focus and gives them the foundation of being able to stay on task that will benefit them later on in their educational career.

What You Need:

  1. Bin & Lid
  2. Sensory Bases (& bags for storing)
  3. Tools: scoops, grabbers, tweezers, measuring cups, & funnels
  4. Toys (diggers, cars/trucks, themed accessories)

The Breakdown:

  1. Add your base to the bin.
  2. Add all your tools and toys.
  3. Allow your child to explore the bin and discover new ways to play!

Storage Tips:

  1. Use bags (like Ziplocks) to hold each of your bases. This makes the bin easier to organize at clean up and easier to store all your bases in the same place. I used these gigantic Ziplocks to keep all our bases separate from each other when storing. They’re big enough to fit each base and have enough room for if we add more to our supply. It helps to eliminate messes and keeps everything organized so you have an easier time setting up. I also let the kids choose their own base. So when everything is separate, there’s no room for miscommunication when picking out their bases.
  2. Bins with lids are the best. Not only are the bins used as a play space for the kids, but its also the perfect place to store all your supplies! The lid makes it storing stress-free since it eliminates the possibility of a spill. The bins themselves can really be whatever size is easiest for you to store at home. We have smaller storage bins but made sure they were deep. The higher sides combat any of your bases escaping during playtime. Stuff will obviously spill out so just have a vacuum ready if you need a little extra clean up (I love this handheld vacuum for quick and easy clean ups!).

We are always looking for fun new themes for our bins so let us know what your favorite sensory bin themes are in the comments below!

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