Time to Get Messy: Sensory Bin Ideas


Alright, everyone. It’s time to get creative. One of my favorite things to do with my kids is to get messy! I have some serious sensory seekers in my house, so we try to embrace that as often as we can. Since many of us are stuck at home for the next few weeks, and it’s a little bit too chilly to get outside with littles, I thought I’d share some fun sensory bin ideas that should be easy and fun to create! I tried to give a few options in case you don’t have some of the items I mentioned. That’s one thing I love about sensory bins, they’re not a one size fits all and you can truly use whatever materials you have on hand!

Rice (And/or Beans)

We love using rice and beans as a sensory bin. I’ve colored rice multiple different colors, and most recently I colored rice green and put some dinosaurs in the sensory bin and they have their own “prehistoric” sensory activity! My girls love it! It’s one of their favorites. It’s also fun adding lentil beans to it too because they look like stones.

Sensory Bins

Bring the Outdoors In

Go collect some grass, dirt, leaves, twigs, tree bark, whatever you can find, and throw it into a bin or big bowl. You can even let your kids help you find fun things to toss in. Find some play animals or people from your kiddos’ toy collection and just let them play and use their imagination. Super simple!

Soap and Bubbles

Sometimes the simplest of things can be the most fun. Lay some towels down and fill a big bowl or tub with warm water and soap. Toss in some bath toys and let them go to town! OR, even better…throw on their swimsuits and let them have a life-size sensory bin in the bathtub!

Rocks (and/or sand) and Sea Shells

This is another one of my kids’ favorite bins I made. I got rocks/gravel from the dollar store and a few bags of seashells. In addition, I also added some white rice and pinto beans for different textures. We added shovels, play crabs, fish and even some trucks for them to play with. My kids love choosing their own toys to add to their bins. You can also use sand instead of gravel.

Popcorn Kernels

This is my personal favorite sensory bin. I accidentally got 13 pounds of popcorn kernels sent to me by my mother (thanks Amazon!). So what do I do? Dump it in a huge tote and let the girls go to town, of course! I added fake leaves, pinecones, and pumpkins and gave my girls measuring cups. It kept them busy for a long time!

Moon Sand

This is a super easy homemade sensory activity that my kids LOVED! The recipe is only two ingredients, 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil (plus food coloring if you choose). Mix it together and, voila! Moon sand. I put some Easter eggs in it and let the girls make sandcastles and mold it however they wanted. They loved it! Word to the wise, if you use food coloring, wear gloves or your hands will be dyed for a week. Whoops.

Be creative.

These are just some ideas, but truly, sensory bins have no rules! You can also use dry pasta, rocks, puffballs, beads, fake flowers, birdseed, water beads (my kids are obsessed with these), shaving cream, straw, really anything. Kids sometimes just want something different, and if they’re sensory seekers like mine, they’ll love these sensory bins! Happy playing, momma.

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Allison Cooley
Alli is a wife, and girl mom to three awesome girls ages four and under. She's also a boy mom to two dogs (Desmond and Rocky) and a cat (Pancake). She stays busy as a stay at home mom but manages with the help of Jesus, coffee, essential oils, and lots of grace. Alli and her husband, Brandon, are licensed foster parents with huge hearts for adoption and foster care. She's a firm believer in being transparent and genuine and loves relating with other moms in whatever season they're in. She recently started a Mommy Meet Up group in her home town of Findlay. She's a little bit crunchy, unicorn loving, vacuum hating momma who can't wait to go on this journey with you!


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