As early childhood educators, we know the benefits from sensory play. Students develop their fine motor skills, develop language skills as they discuss pouring items in and out and from a larger cup to a smaller cup, and problem solving skills, just to name a few!
Putting together a new sensory bin is one of my favorite centers to do for my kids. I switch it out every two weeks when I change my units and they love to see what will be in there next. I keep all of the materials and sensory items from year to year. It makes it easy to open a container and just dump it in!
First off, I have a fairly small sensory bin. My rule is that I allow two kids at a time to be there. Once one person leaves, another student knows he/she can join in. We learn this rule at the beginning of the year.
A few things that I reuse in most sensory bins are: cups, scoops, tongs, shovels, and scoop scissors, as seen in the photos below. I also have two dust pans and brooms that I leave under the table. The kids know that if they make a mess, they have to clean it up. It’s an easy reminder because the broom is always under the table and it makes them responsible for their learning and their messes. BONUS: if a student makes a mess during lunch, he/she gets the dust pan to clean up their own mess! Parents are always amazed by this 😂.
Water Sensory Play
Probably the easiest sensory bin is with water, since it’s free out of the sink! However, I think it’s the most messy. When I use water, I have the kids wear a waterproof smock to protect their clothing from getting drenched, and I also make sure my sensory bin is on the tile and away from my computer that’s right behind it. It also doesn’t hurt to put some paper towels nearby…
Beans and Popcorn
Beans are my favorite sensory item. I reuse the beans many times over during the school year in various bins.
Sand is something that’s easy to add different items to and change up your sensory bin theme. You could add cars and trucks, sea shells, measuring items, etc.
Rice and Pasta
Rice and pasta is something you can easily change the theme or season by dying it festive colors.
Here’s how I dye my rice and pasta:
Divide rice or pasta into gallon zip lock bags. Add desired food coloring to the bags, and add rubbing alcohol. Shake the bags until the rice or pasta is well mixed on every piece. Lay the rice or pasta flat to dry on cookie sheets with parchment paper. That’s it!
Other Sensory Items
There are many other items you can use in your sensory bins. From shredded paper, to stuffed animals. The sky’s the limit!
Thank you so much for reading my sensory bin blog post! I hope you got some new ideas for your classroom. What do you use in your sensory bins? Leave me a comment below.