Do you have a problem keeping your little one entertained at home? Here is a great idea that can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be: Sensory Bins! Sensory play activities for kids at home should be your go-to activity because they are simple, flexible, and easily integrated with academic and developmental skills. In addition, a sensory bin is just plain fun for little ones.
Many parents who keep their young children at home struggle with how to balance teaching their little ones the academic skills they need and providing fun stimulating experiences, so sensory bins are the perfect solution.
You will notice a high-quality preschool or kindergarten classroom is usually buzzing with activity unless it’s nap time. Children have many different options for hands-on activities to help them learn during the day. In fact, they are developing not only their academic skills but also their physical, social, emotional, and language skills in the most fun way possible.
So how do you bring home some of the best practices you’ll see high-quality experienced teachers use? While you don’t have to do everything these preschool or kindergarten teachers do, you can take a few of their tried and true methods and approaches to help your child develop and keep you sane.
High-quality early learning is child-focused. In other words, preschool and kindergarten teachers are always looking at a particular child and reflecting on what that child likes, needs, or wants.
Conversations often center on questions like…
- What does my student need help with?
- How do I know when my student needs help?
- Which activities does my student enjoy doing?
- What skills do I want or need to teach right now?
- Given their age and development, how can I help my student be independent?
Little children, especially those under 6, require lots of hands-on activities and can rarely sit in one place for more than a few minutes at a time. Thus, it’s perfectly normal and they are actually doing exactly what they should be for their age and developmental stage.
The Sensory Bin Solution – A Tried and True Method
Sensory bins are a great way to include some preschool and kindergarten fun at home. In fact, making a sensory bin activity is as simple as:
- Choosing an activity
- Grabbing a bin
- Selecting a filler
All in all, your little one will have hours of fun. As can be seen in the video below, there are loads of benefits to sensory bin activities as well.
Sensory activities for kids often include repurposed items that young children are accustomed to seeing in their home, school, or community.
First, think of interesting things your kid is not normally allowed to play with. Then, combine it with one or more other items, and voila! You have a super fun sensory bin activity.
Tip: Everything is new and interesting for young children when presented in the right way.
As a matter of fact, you can use sensory bin activities to teach a wide variety of academic skills. After all, it is very easy to have a list of materials for sensory bins and rotate the sensory bin ideas with different skills. So if your child enjoys a specific sensory activity all you need to do is rotate the skill focus.
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Here are some sensory bin filler ideas to get you started.
Sensory Bins Filler: Soapy Water
Your child can practice some very important life skills by washing their toys. They can clean their cars, trucks, dolls, Legos/Duplos, or toy plates. Almost anything can be put in this sensory bin activity as long as it is water-safe for hours of fun for your little one.
Tip: This is a great outdoor activity or for an area you don’t mind getting wet like the kitchen.
Feeling adventurous? Kick it up a notch with this great Rainbow Soap Foam Sensory Play activity from Active Littles.
Sensory Bins Filler: Beans
Another filler you could use is dried beans. In fact, dried beans are a great budget-friendly sensory activity for kids. Keep a couple of jars of different color dried beans that can be used for the sensory bin. Then, simply change the color of the item in the bin to revive interest.
Tip: In order to add another dimension to the conversation, consider mixing beans (different colors, textures, shapes, sizes) in their sensory bin activity.
Sensory Bin Filler: Soil/Sand
I don’t know about yours, but most of the kiddos I’ve met have loved to play in dirt and sand. Particularly, they loved digging in it and getting their hands dirty. I must admit, they have the right idea.
There’s something wonderful about getting your hands in the earth. In any case, it also makes a great sensory bin activity for kids. For this reason, you can hide all manner of things in there for your little one to find or add some gardening tools and pots for them to use.
Tip: If you opt for sand, they can use a brush like an archeologist to uncover buried treasure.
Sensory Bin Filler: Packing Peanuts
We’ve all received packages in the mail with those packing peanuts and had to toss them out, but wait!
Next time keep them and add them to your collection of fillers for sensory play. Surprisingly, they are another great item to put in the sensory bin. Add a small spade, spoon, straw to blow them around, or tweezers for your child to use and explore.
Tip: You can find some packing peanuts for this sensory bin activity at a local UHAUL (or similar moving store) or order some here.
Sensory Bin Filler: Shaving Foam
A tub of shaving foam is a dream for lots of little ones. Plus, it is easy to clean up. Likewise, kiddos are easily entertained and have a great time with the unique texture of shaving foam.
Tip: Placing shaving foam in a Ziploc bag can contain the mess and yields almost as much fun.
Sensory Bin Filler: Rice
Rice is a classic filler, can be jazzed up with different colors, and is ideal for a variety of activities. Giving your little one a specific color for each activity can make learning colors fun. For example, consider putting ocean animals in blue color rice.
Tip: Learn how to color rice from this great blog.
Overall, there are so many developmental reasons to use sensory bin activities. In addition, there are endless possibilities to create! Use these sensory bin filler ideas for hours of educational entertainment for your little one. If you want some more ideas for sensory bin fun, check out these 7 ABC Sensory Bin Activity Ideas.