Use these preschool and kindergarten sensory bin ideas to make teaching pre-reading skills at home a breeze! Parents and teachers love sensory bins because they’re fun, easy to make, and can be used with infants and toddlers on up. Also, they are a great way to add some fun to the literacy skills learning process. Because these skills help kids become great readers, they should be practiced early and often!

What Are Pre-Reading Skills?

All in all, pre-reading skills are the foundational skills kids need to master to become great readers. They are fundamental to your child being literate. Also, literacy skills allow children access to a world of information. So getting these right is key!

To list, here are the pre-reading skills your child should be working on:

  • Phonological Awareness/Phonemic Awareness – Your child can hear and play with different sounds, including individual sounds in words. 

  • Vocabulary Skills – Your child knows and can use a variety of words.

  • Narrative Skills – When kids describe things, tell stories, order events, and/or make predictions.

  • Print Motivation- Your child is interested in books.

  • Print Awareness- Your child notices print in their environment, holds books correctly, and understands the direction of print in your language. For example, English is written left to right and top to bottom.

  • Letter Knowledge – The understanding that letters have different shapes, sounds, and names. Your child may begin to point out letters they see around them. 

Overall, each of these skills is important. In fact, children as young as toddlers can begin to develop them.

All in all, early literacy skills are important for building a firm foundation for reading in kindergarten and beyond. Although, what many people don’t realize is many of these don’t have to do with children memorizing letter names and sounds. Rather, you should focus on the surrounding skills that make learning those things easier. If you’re looking to help your little one develop these early literacy skills check out this list of awesome children’s books to help toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten kids learn their ABCs.

How Do Sensory Bin Activities Help Children Develop Early Literacy Skills?

These sensory bin ideas are great for helping young children develop literacy skills in practical and fun ways. You can accomplish two very important things using sensory bins:

1. Keep your child’s attention on a single task/activity for an extended period of time. Attention and focus are important early learning skills!

2. Teaching important pre-reading skills.

When children play at home with things in new ways, they are more likely to talk about it. For that reason, they can expand their vocabulary. So, let’s take a look at a few fun sensory bin ideas that you can make at home to support pre-reading skills for your toddler, preschool, or kindergarten child.

Sort Letters By Color With Alphabet Mystery Search Sensory Bin

Resources

  • Bin
  • Corn
  • Magnetic Letters or Printed Letters
  • Alphabet Sorting Mat (link to mat in YRL)

Early Literacy Skills Addressed

  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Sensory Bin Description

In order to use this sensory bin idea, your child will sort the letters they find by color. Not only does this give preschool and kindergarten kids a chance to practice their color recognition, but also encourages their letter knowledge while building their color vocabulary.

Phonemic Awareness with Snowy Day

Resources

Early Literacy Skills Addressed

  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Sensory Bin Description

Let your child enjoy searching for matching snowflakes! While using this sensory bin idea, they will develop their phonological/phonemic awareness skills by matching pictures that have the same-ending sound. 

Build Vocabulary With Eating the Alphabet

sensory bin ideas with eating the alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Resources

  • Bin
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Orange Peels
  • Dry Oatmeal or Kinetic Sand
  • Alphabet Cards made of different textures (sand paper, cotton balls, etc.)

Early Literacy Skills Addressed

  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Sensory Bin Description

In essence, your child will be able to explore the different scents and textures! This sensory bin allows your little one to develop their vocabulary by talking about the different items they smell or touch.

Beginning Sounds With Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Resources

  • Bin
  • Fake Snow
  • Polar Animals
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Book

Early Literacy Skills Addressed

  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Sensory Bin Description

Preschool and kindergarten children develop their phonological/phonemic awareness skills through finding matching pairs. For example, each animal in the story
“sees” something that starts with the same sound. While you read the story, your child can act it out in the sensory bin! 

Retell With The Very Hungry Caterpillar

sensory bin ideas with the very hungry caterpillar by eric carle

Resources

  • Bin
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Book
  • Toy fruit and food
  • Storyboard with words
  • Fake grass

Early Literacy Skills Addressed

  • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
  • Vocabulary
  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Print Awareness
  • Letter Knowledge

Sensory Bin Description

Lastly, your kid will develop their vocabulary, narrative skills, print awareness, and print motivation in this sensory bin activity. While using elements from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, they will be able to retell the story or create a new story!

Overall, sensory bins activities for kids at home are absolutely one of the best ways of keeping little kids entertained while ensuring they are developing the early literacy skills they need to become strong readers. When you’re ready for more ideas to help your child grow into an awesome reader, check out some resources below!

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