Sensory bins are a great hands on activity that kids young and old love! They are perfect for improving fine motor skills and can even help improve your chid's mood or stress level. Depending on the weather, you can do them inside or outside which can help with the mess factor! Keep reading for 10 easy DIY sensory bins you can do at home with many things you probably already have around your house. Check out this tray (linked here) as a great option for sensory play. It is one of our favorites at Stay at Home Activity Mom.
Water beads (linked here) are so fun, even for adults! There is something about their smooth, squishy texture that everyone enjoys. You can use certain colors to theme the bin for a holiday (like black used for Halloween in this picture) or you can use a variety of colors for anytime fun. Water beads do require you to prep them overnight so the beads have time to grow in the water to be used the next day.
Take cups, bowls, measuring spoons, etc and add them to a large bin. Pour in water and add a drop or two of different food coloring for added fun. Water play is always a hit with kids and this one is super simple to prep. You can't beat that!
Rainbow rice is a fun bin for scooping and pouring play. Toss in bowls, spoons, measuring cups, even little containers with lids would be great. Then, let your kids play! Click on "Rainbow Rice" above for full directions on how to make rainbow rice at home.
Take some of your kid's plastic figurines or some rainbow bears (linked here) and put them in an ice cube tray or muffin tin with water. They don't have to be fully covered. Place them in the freezer until frozen. Pop them out and put them in a big bin. Let your child use droppers or spray bottles filled with water to help "rescue" the figures from the ice. This bin is great fine motor practice for your child.
There are so many fun options with muffin cup boats. You can use silicone cups (linked here) or foil muffin cups. Add some water to your bin, a couple of drops of food coloring if you want, and some small trinkets to float in the "boats". Anything with water just has a magical element to it that entertains most kids longer than you would think. You could challenge older kids to a sink and float challenge where they can predict how many trinkets they would need to add to make the boat sink. They could even record their predictions and findings in a notebook. If it's too cold where you live to do this outside it can easily be adapted to the bathtub.
Even your little toddlers can enjoy the benefits and fun of a sensory bin! Just swap out the small pieces for your favorite puff or O shaped cereal. Add some plastic scooping cups and bowls and let them play and taste! Of course, be sure to be right by their side during this activity since they will more than likely be putting the cereal into their mouth. (The white tray used in this picture is linked at the top of the page.)
This is another water and "boat" activity but this time we added sponges and little drink umbrellas to the mix. The options really are endless with these boat activities and are always such a hit!
It doesn't have to be Halloween to do Mystery Water (although that would be a fun activity for a Halloween party). You will need two bins, take one bin and fill it with water and add some black food coloring. Drop in some little figurines you have around the house and let your kids scoop them from the mystery side into the empty bin next to it. Don't have two bins? They can scoop them into a bowl, onto a beach towel, etc. You can switch up what toys you put in the water each time you play to make it seem like a new activity each time.
Play foam (linked here) is a fun variation to try in your sensory bin. It is a great option for those of you who are a little resistant to the possible mess of sensory bins because play foam is relatively mess free. It seems like it would be sticky but it isn't. You can keep it all one color or live on the edge haha and mix a variety of colors together! Play with it as is or add some things in such as plastic cookie cutters.
This sensory bin was originally created as an Easter activity but you can easily swap out the plastic eggs for other cups and bowls and use it any time of year. This bin requires a little bit of prep in advance because the oats need time to dry after you dye them. Kids enjoy this one because it is different than the usual sensory bin of sand, water, etc. Click on the "Colored Oat Bin" title above to be linked to the directions for how to make the colored oats.
There are so many benefits of sensory bin play. One great thing about them is children of multiple ages can enjoy them together and get benefits out of them. Hopefully one of these ideas inspires you to try a new sensory bin with your kids at home. If you try any of the ideas above, be sure to tag Stay at Home Activity Mom on Instagram because we love to see what you are up to! Have fun playing!