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Creative Family Ideas in the Pacific Northwest

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How to Make a Kids Sensory Bin

It’s really easy to make a sensory bin for your kids. Anyone can do it, using items you already have at home! Sensory bins are great for homeschool, preschool, tactile learning and just for fun! All you need to create an awesome sensory bin is a sensory medium such as play sand, small toys and an assortment of tiny decorative accents. Learn how to create a discovery experience using these simple steps for how to make a kids sensory bin!

Sensory Medium

First of course, you’ll need a box for your sensory bin. A cardboard box or clear storage bin will do. A box that has a lid is best so you can close it up once playtime is over.

Once you have your box, fill it with a fun sensory medium! This could be play sand, water beads, dried beans or even rice. The sensory medium provides the texture for the sensory bin.

For our sensory bins, I’ve used sandbox sand that I scooped directly from my kids’ outdoor sandbox. I’ve also used water beads, which are colorful little spheres that are made from non-toxic gel that soaks up water. I’ve also used kinetic sand, dried beads and our homemade cloud dough in my kids sensory bins.

Homemade cloud dough kids activity with sensory glitter and tiny lizards

Miniature Toys, Figures & Characters

Next, add some tiny toys to your sensory bin. These could be little princess dolls, plastic dinosaurs, or miniature under-the-sea creatures. If you want to make a themed sensory bin, choose toys and characters that go together to create a jungle-themed or dinosaur-themed sensory bin. I’ve also made princess sensory bins for my girls using their magiclip dolls and glamour-inspired treasures.

Sensory Bin Ideas

Prehistoric Paradise sensory bin – Play sand with dinosaurs, miniature palm trees, ice rocks and pebbles.

Under the Sea sensory bin – Blue water beads with colorful fish, small aquarium plants, large rhinestones and acrylic crystals.

Rainforest Realm sensory bin – Play sand with gravel, tiny frogs, lizards, snakes and miniature palm trees.

Glittery Glamour sensory bin –  White cloud dough with glitter, small princess dolls, mismatched barbie shoes, rhinestones and acrylic jewels.

Under Construction sensory bin – Play sand with tiny excavators, sticks, small rocks, tan pom poms and ice rocks.

Construction site sand sensory bin kids activity

Sensory Bin Accents

Once you’ve picked a sensory medium and small toys for your sensory bin, it’s time to add some decorative accents. Sensory bin accents are the best part of a sensory bin! Sensory bin accents are the tiny things that kids will enjoy “discovering” under the sand or beneath the water beads. These tiny treasures also make themed sensory bins eye-catching and extra fun to explore.

Baby sensory bin accents could include large foam balls, oversized cotton balls, a cut up egg carton, big feathers and large foam shapes. It’s important to make sure you give your child large sensory bin accents if they still put things in their mouth. Items smaller than 3″ can be a choking hazard.

Create a sensory baby box with small baby safe items and toys

Preschool sensory bin accents could include pom poms, foam shapes, large rhinestones, acrylic crystals, feathers, small rocks and popsicle sticks.  

Kids who are 6 and older will enjoy playing with more intricate sensory bin accents. Rocks, crystals, gems, rhinestones, large glitter, pebbles, ice rocks, plastic gold coins, Lego bricks, barbie shoes, resin shapes, silk flowers and buttons are all great sensory bin accents for kids to discover and excavate.

Butterfly Rainforest sensory bin kids activity

Learning through Sensory Play

Kids can learn all sorts of things by playing with a sensory bin. Sensory play helps kids develop many basic skills. First, it’s really fun to bring a sandbox indoors. A sensory bin provides a contained play space for kids to dig around and find treasures that are hidden in the box. Kids can make up story lines with their sensory bin themes or pick a character out of their box and go on an imaginative adventure. Younger kids will just enjoy digging around in the play sand or scooping up the water beads. Preschoolers can also practice counting and learning their colors as they collect their sensory bin treasures!

Next time your child is asking for a creative activity, look around your house and put together a kids sensory bin! What would you put in your child’s sensory bin?



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