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5 Fun Sensory Bins You Need to Try

Give sensory bins a try

If you are new to sensory bins, get ready to be obsessed with them! Sensory learning is SO important for children’s development, plus they are fun, encourage creativity, and can even improve your child’s social skills!

In this blog post, I’m sharing 5 fun sensory bin ideas you need to try! I’ll be covering:

  • What is the purpose of sensory bins?
  • What age groups can use sensory bins?
  • What are the learning outcomes of sensory bins?
  • Sensory bins and neurodivergent people
  • Sensory bin tips for first-timers
  • What can you put in a sensory bin?
  • How often should you change your sensory bin?
  • Sensory bin themes and ideas

So if you’re ready to try out sensory bins like the space themed sensory bins and more, then you’re in the right place!

Pinterest pin image for this blog's post about sensory bins, sensory bin ideas you need to try, and sensory bin fillers.

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What is the purpose of sensory bins?

Sensory bins are simply containers that allow you to explore multiple senses at once, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

At first glance, you may think that a sensory bin is just a bunch of junk in a bin that will make a BIG mess. After a little practice, you’ll see that the benefits outweigh the potential messes.

Related: Sensory Play for Babies

How are they helpful for my child’s development?

  • Sensory bins improve fine motor skills and coordination.
  • Help kids with practicing self-control.
  • Plus, sensory bins can be a huge benefit for neurotypical people of any age. More on that soon. Keep reading!


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    What age groups can use sensory bins?

    • Sensory play can be introduced when children are as early as a few months old.
      • Be sure to keep in mind choking risks or other potential dangers, and monitor your child closely at all times.
    • Babies and toddlers especially can benefit from sensory bins.
    • The use of sensory bins is not limited to young children, though. Depending on the person’s interests, they can be a barrel of fun for anyone!

    What are the learning outcomes of sensory bins?

    Allowing kids plenty of opportunities for sensory play is so important. Especially when children are very young, it’s important for them to practice and develop skills that help them reach that endless list of milestones.

    Related: 15+ Cheap and Easy Ideas for Fall Sensory Bins

    Sensory bin benefits

    1. Learn through hands-on play
    2. Practice social skills, develop language, and strengthen vocabulary
    3. Can help to develop fine and gross motor skills
    4. Promotes self-control
    5. Encourages analytical thinking and problem solving
    6. Fosters creativity, imagination, and independent play

    Sensory bins and neurodivergent people

    Sensory bins are typically seen as something only for young children. You may not know that sensory activities are actually great for any age, especially for neurodivergent people.

    How sensory bins can help

    Many people love going to the beach and feeling the sand between their toes, making sand castles, or playing in the water. But, for a neurodivergent person, this experience may be a miserable sensory overload.

    Just think about all the sensory experiences that overlap when visiting the beach, especially on a busy day. Sensory play can be a huge help.

    Kids of any age and adults with autism, ADD, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder can greatly benefit from exploring sensory bins!

    Sensory bin tips for first-timers

    1. Sensory bins take practice.
      • At first, you and your child will need to sit down together and explore the sensory bins side-by-side.
    2. Playing with sensory bins without messes will not come after the first try. Keep practicing!
      • Even very young kids can learn to use sensory bins in a tidy way that entertains them for a long time.
    3. Start with simple fillers for your sensory bins at first, making them more complex over time.
    4. Create a boundary for your sensory bin area by putting a towel down in your sensory bin area.
    5. Clearly state the rules for sensory bins before starting, then discuss, practice, and repeat (and repeat, and repeat).
    6. You can always remove the activity if your rules are not being followed.
      • Kid starts eating rice? Remove the bin and calmly explain why.
      • Try again later with a discussion about your sensory bin rules.

    “No dumping, no throwing, and no eating.”

    Rules for using sensory bins (busy toddler)

    What can you put in a sensory bin?

    One key part of this sensory bin thing is the actual bin, obvs. 😂 You will need a 28 qt storage container with a lid.

    The best deal that I was able to find for 28 qt storage bins through a quick Google search were these, for about $7 each.

    Pinterest pin image for this blog's post from Planit homeschool about sensory bins, sensory bin ideas you need to try, space sensory bins, and sensory bin fillers.

    How often should you change your sensory bin?

    How often you change your sensory bin mainly depends on how often it gets used. Generally speaking, your sensory bin filler or base, such as rice, should be thrown away after about three weeks.

    To help keep track of this, you can use a wet erase marker (like this one) to write the date that you added the fresh filler.

    Related: 15 Winter Sensory Bin Ideas with How-To Videos!

    Sensory bin themes and ideas

    When you’re ready, almost anything can go in a sensory bin. You can even use toys, party favors, old kitchen tools, or other items you already have!

    Here are five fun ideas for sensory bins that you need to try.

    Space themed sensory bin

    • Black rice or black beans
      • *Use beans with caution as eating raw or undercooked beans can be toxic and cause food poisoning
    • Anything glow-in-the-dark, such as those cool stars we all stuck on our bedroom ceiling in 1996. (Just me?)
    • Small, space toys, such as a rocket ship, a little astronaut dude, or even an alien toy (2-4)
    • A variety containers in various shapes and sizes (2-4)
    • You can even add aluminum foil to make the container shiny!
    Male child playing with a solar system and rocket ship

    Seasonal sensory bin

    • Rice can be dyed to match a seasonal theme, or buy a base that’s already the color you want (red beans for Christmas, orange marbles for Halloween, etc.)
    • Choose small toys or items that match your theme (2-4)
    • Add containers
    Little kid wrapping a present with a red bow

    Alphabet sensory bin

    • Rice or base item of your choice
    • Hide alphabet letters in the rice
    • Add spoons, cups, and measuring containers  
    Kid facing away from camera and playing with a puzzle

    Tubes and rice sensory bin

    • Cardboard tubes, such as paper towel and toilet paper rolls
    • Rice or base item of your choice
    • Small balls or toys, especially ones with wheels (4-5)
    • Go big with a 41 qt bin and add some novelty by taping the bins together to make a marble run or tube maze!
    Lots of tubes facing different directions in background with bubbles with sheep inside them in the foreground

    Dinosaur sensory bin

    • Sand or brown rice
    • Dinosaur toys
    • Rocks (aka “dino eggs”, obvi)
    • Cups, scoops, paintbrushes, and spoons
    Overhead view of boy playing on the floor with dinosaur toys


    Hopefully, after reading this post you’ve learned a lot about the benefits of sensory bins! I warned you, you’re going to be obsessed with them.

    Which sensory bin will you try out first? Comment below! We look forward to talking with you in the comments. For everything homeschool, we can PlanIt! ♥

    Safety tips and words of caution

    All materials you choose for your sensory bins should be nontoxic and should not be of a size or material that could cause choking or other dangers. Monitor anyone using a sensory bin closely, especially young children.

    The general recommendation for sensory bin age-limits is no younger than eighteen-months-old, with materials within the bins including other water, sand, and fixed plastic objects (something they can’t pinch their fingers in, for example). If the toys can fit inside and slide through a standard toilet paper tube, they are too small for babies and toddlers, and should not be included in your sensory bins.

    A great tip for young children is to make sure their bellies are full and that they’ve eaten a meal in a place that is separate from where the sensory bin play occurs before using the sensory bin, which can help reduce the desire for children to want to eat the sensory bin’s contents. If you struggle with this, try to switch out your base material for food or something that is food-safe and okay for the child to go ahead and eat. Just be sure to switch these materials out much more often!

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