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How to Set Up Your Own Sensory Bin

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If you’ve spent even five minutes on Pinterest, you’ve almost certainly heard the term “sensory bin.” These do-it-yourself creative playthings are versatile, customizable, and loaded with benefits for kids and parents. Not only are they a great way to explore different sensory experiences, they can help children develop fine motor skills, practice tasks like pouring and scooping, and learn how to play independently. They can also be a great way to indulge kids’ natural love of messy activities in a way that’s a little bit easier to manage!


Ready to give sensory bins a try? We rounded up some resources and tips to help you get started:

  • You can buy special bins and tables that are specifically intended for sensory play, but you can use any durable container. (Be mindful of depth if your sensory bin includes water.) Plastic under-bed storage totes work well and can be easily closed up and stored when playtime is over.
  • The possibilities for filling your sensory bin are only limited by your imagination! You can go wet or dry, clean or messy, colorful or natural, seasonal or evergreen.
  • Look for materials that will engage your child’s senses: Sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste. 
  • Dried beans, rice, sand or cornmeal can provide a base for digging, scooping and building with measuring cups, funnels, and other utensils.
  • Create a winter wonderland for small toys by making your own “snow” out of baking soda and hair conditioner!
  • Sensory bins provide a great opportunity to help little ones learn self-control, too, by following basic rules for each bin (like “don’t put the beans in your mouth”).
  • If your kids love slime but you can’t take the mess, a sensory bin can provide a happy medium for slimy play that’s easier to contain.
  • Your sensory bin doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated! Real-Life Ruggish mom Ashley Kilday filled hers with wooden toys and multicolored rice.

What are your favorite sensory bin fillers?


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2 comments
  • Liza on

    This is so great, love that idea!

  • Sophie on

    My daughter LOVES playing with felt in her sensory bin! I cut larger pieces into small shapes that she can sort into different silicone cups or stick to larger pieces of felt — or stick to her shirt!

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