Today, I’m going to share what a sensory bin is, what it can do for your child, how to make a sensory bin, and where to find items to go in the sensory bin.
First, what is a sensory bin? Basically, it is a bin that includes items that appeal to many of your child’s senses. For sight – draw them in with multiple colors, bold, and contrasting colors. For sound – think of the sound your substrate, or base (rice, sand, beans, etc), makes against the objects inside the bin and on the bin itself. Touch – put different textured items in; sticky, slippery, soft, hard, rough, smooth, etc. Smell isn’t a sense I strive to appeal to in a sensory bin, but you can scent your substrate if you want or add different scented objects (small balls of scented play dough, flowers, etc).
What can a sensory bin do for your child you ask? Easy answer. Almost anything you want it to. Children, especially those 3 and under learn through their senses. You can count the objects, add some, take away some, to help learn math skills. Put different objects in that your child isn’t familiar with to learn new item names and descriptive words to improve their language skills. Use water beads as your base for a science aspect. Not only does it improve cognitive skills, but it improves physical skills as well. As children pick up small items they improve their fine motor skills. When they move them from one area of the bin to another or from one cup to another, they’re also improving their eye hand coordination. I could go on and on. Plus, sensory bins are just plain fun!
Sensory bins are super easy to make too. You need some sort of container with a tight fitting lid (that way little hands are kept out when you don’t can’t actively supervise them) and tall enough sides so that what’s in the bin won’t come out easily, and then materials to go in it. You could use something as simple as a shoe box (put it in an out of reach place when not in use, and be sure to not use any wet materials in it) or you could purchase a sensory bin with a stand from a store like Lakeshore. I opted for a simple bin. We purchased this 34 quart storage bin from Target (Kmart sells it online for $10, Target has it in store only, but cheaper) for around $9. It can hold any substrate (provided it doesn’t get cracked), it’s big enough for both girls to play in without being crowded, and small enough to be moved easily.