Looking for sensory bin ideas for toddlers & preschool? Look no further! Sensory bin fillers don’t have to break the bank. You can fill sensory bins with everything from sand, beans, or water and even jello!
Kids love sensory bins, but what do you fill the bins with? Sensory bin fillers don’t have to break the bank. You can fill sensory bins with everything from sand, dirt, or water to common, household items like cotton balls and more!
This list below will give you some ideas for filling your bins at school or at home with materials that are engaging and fun for kids.
What is the purpose of a sensory bin?
A sensory bin can provide hands-on opportunities for children to stimulate some or all of the following senses:
- Visual (sight)
- Auditory (hearing)
- Tactile (touch)
- Olfactory (smell)
- Gustation (taste)
Sensory bins are also a great tool to help calm and focus the child.
What age are sensory bins good for?
Sensory bins are a wonderful tool to introduce to toddlers.
Why Use a Sensory Bin in Preschool?
Sensory play is open-ended, meaning there is no clearly defined outcome of playing with or exploring the materials inside the bin.
Children use their senses and creativity to explore the materials offered in a sensory bin on their own without the expectation of an end product.
To recap, sensory bin play is meaningful to young children and provides opportunities for open-ended play.
Sensory Bin Filler Ideas
When it comes to ideas for filling your sensory bin, you’re only limited by your imagination. Get creative, think outside the box!
If you’ve never branched out beyond sand and water I challenge you to pick just one item from this list and give it a try – I bet you’ll be surprised how much your kids enjoy it!
What Do You Put Inside a Sensory Bin?
The possibilities for materials you can use to fill sensory bins and sensory tables are endless! Here are just a few of my favorite sensory bin fillers listed for you below.
- Easter grass and plastic eggs with surprises hidden inside
- Aquarium rocks
- Plastic pellets
- Colored Rice (use rubbing alcohol and food coloring to color)
- Colored Pasta
- Water Beads
- Shredded Paper
- Cotton Balls
- Moon sand
- Water with ice cubes for winter unit
- Strips of holiday wrapping paper and bows for holiday unit
- Dirt with plastic gardening tools, plastic pots
- Dirt with plastic snakes and bugs
- Insta Snow
- Colored water
- Water with dish soap to make bubbles
- Kinetic Sand
- Packing peanuts
- Various sizes of gourds for fall
- Colored chickpeas
Bean Sensory Bin Ideas
Rice Sensory Bin Ideas
Rice is a great way to fill a sensory bin and a cheap filler as well! You can even color the rice as well and make it more engaging your toddlers. Check out this Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin.
Or you can make it different colors for different holidays, like this Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin where we used pink rice!
Sand Sensory Bin Ideas
Sand is always a material that your toddlers will love exploring in a sensory bin. Here are a few ideas of how to incorporate sand into your sensory bins.
- How to Make DIY Kinetic Sand for Sensory Bins
- Rainbow Sand Sensory Bin
- Space Sensory Bin
- Dinosaur Fossil Dig Sensory Bin
- Seashell Alphabet Sensory Bin
- Farm Small World Sensory Bin
- Snowy Day Sensory Tray
- Ocean Counting Sensory Bin Activity
Water Sensory Bin Ideas
Water is a wonderful cheap filler for your sensory bin! And you can easily color the water as well to make it very engaging for your toddlers. They can explore ocean themed activities or explore what sinks and what floats. If water seems a bit messy, you can also fill up the bin with colorful water beads!
Non-Food Sensory Bin Fillers
Certain early childhood programs prohibit the use of food items for play in the classroom. Choose items wisely from this list that best meet your needs and those of your students.
Note: If you have students who put things in their mouths then you will want to use careful supervision or choose a different activity.
Sensory Bin Tools
Sensory bins are great fun for young children, they love to scoop, pour, dig and explore many different materials. But a successful sensory bin experience often includes engaging tools kids can use to explore the materials. Here are some of my favorite sensory bin tools to use in your sensory bin at home or in the preschool classroom.
What are some sensory activities?
Sensory bins for toddlers can be used on their own for sensory exploration or in conjunction with other activities, as they are with these two activities: Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin or Fall Sensory Bin for Preschool Sensory Play