Getting Started with Sensory Bins

Getting Started with Sensory Bins

Getting Started with Sensory Bins

Do you have the desire to run sensory activities with your kids but have no idea where to start?

Here is everything you need to know to get started with sensory bins, including a shopping list and steps to putting a sensory bin together. Read on to learn how to do it yourself!

How to get started with sensory bins

Sensory Bin Shopping list: 

Step 1: Find a container

  • Head to the dollar store and buy a tray with a high edge or buy an IKEA FLISAT table or a locally made sensory table on ETSY.

Step 2: Gather materials to use as the "base"

  • The base is the loose material that goes on the bottom of the bin and us used for pouring, moving, feeling, etc.
  • Our favourite base materials include:
    • Dry corn kernels
    • Dry chickpeas
    • Dry rice (dye using food colouring for added fun)
    • Dry pasta
    • Water beads
    • Dry split peas
    • Dry black beans

Step 3: Fillers

  • Fillers are larger materials that can be added on top or around the base to create a scene. These can all be purchased at your local dollar store or on Amazon and some can be gathered in nature.
  • Fillers can include and are not limited to:
    • Play dough
    • Kinetic sand
    • Shells
    • Pom poms
    • Buttons
    • Wood medallions
    • Pine cones
    • Sticks
    • Wood discs 
    • Wood letter discs
    • Jewels
    • Rocks
    • Flowers 

Step 4: Figurines

  • Gather sets of figurines according to themes, then your sensory bins can be built around those themes. For example, a forest bin, a sea bin or a seasonal bin. The figurines are what allows for imaginative play. 
  • Examples of figurines include:

Step 5: Tools

  • Tools are objects children can use to manipulate the items in the bin. This is where the fine motor skills come into play.  
  • Tools include:
    • Scoops
    • Bowls
    • Spoons
    • Containers
    • Tongs
    • Tweezers

Step 6: Literacy

  • Don't miss the opportunity to bring literacy into your activity. You can do this by choosing a letter sound to focus on, or build a complete word using our Early Reader Pack. You can also find a book on the theme of your bin and laying it in the play space.

Once you have collected all of the materials we recommend, then it's time to build your first sensory bin! Read below to learn the steps to bring it all together.  

How to put a sensory bin together:

  1. Lay the base - recommended 1 base
  2. Add filler - recommended 2 or 3 filler materials
  3. Place figurines - recommend keeping your figurines to a theme (e.g. forest animals, sea creatures, fairies, etc.)
  4. Lay tools around the edge - recommend both containers and scoops
  5. Incorporate literacy - recommend focusing on one letter sound that's prominent in your sensory bin, or lay out an entire word or find a book to place in the playing area. 

Check out this video to see how we store all of our sensory materials and see some of our bins come to life!


Have fun gathering all of your materials as you get started on your sensory journey!

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