16 Ways to Play with Sensory Bins

16 of the Best Sensory Bin Play Ideas

Do your children love playing with sensory bins? Or are you wondering what a sensory bin is!? Let me explain :)

A sensory bin is a large container, large enough for little hands (and sometimes bodies!) to reach in and feel, grasp, move, play. You can put almost anything and everything in a sensory bin, anything that will help young children play, explore and experiment using their senses.

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Children are sensory seekers and learn through their senses. When swishing coloured shaving cream, or pouring rice, or smelling scented play dough, children are practising maths and science skills, learning and using language and social skills. Sensory bins give children the chance to do all of these things without fear of failure or getting it wrong. There is no wrong!

Whether you’re new to sensory bins or have been using them for years, here are a few fun ideas to try out.

16 of the Best Sensory Bin Play Ideas

Using Sticks as Sensory Bin Fillers (Danya Banya)
Recycled Paper Sensory Bin (Little Bins for Little Hands)
Birds and Nests Sensory Play (Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes)
Shaving Cream Play (Triple T Mum)
Water Beads Sensory Play (Racheous Loveable Learning)
Bedtime Sensory Tub: Lavender Dyed Rice (Nurture Store)
ABC Sensory Bin (3 Dinosaurs)
Baking Sensory Tub (The Imagination Tree)
Farm Sensory Tub (Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails)
Construction Sensory Bin (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)
Rainbow Spaghetti Sensory Tub (One Perfect Day)
Christmas Sensory Tub (Octavia and Vicky)
Fresh Mint Sensory Play (Mama Papa Bubba)
I Spy Sensory Bin (Happy Hooligans)
Diamond Mine Sensory Tub (Childhood 101)
Sludge Sensory Play (Picklebums)
Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.


Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

Welcome to The Weekly Kids Co-Op


Bubble Prints

Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Today was one of those relaxed, gorgeous days that you feel like doing not a lot of anything, but get bored doing nothing at all, so find yourself looking for something fun to fill the time. I had bubble printing on my to-do list for a while and today was the perfect day for it. The sun was shining, perhaps the last of our sunny days for a while as Autumn takes hold, and this creative play is best suited to outside, unless you like worrying about mess!

Bubble Prints

You will need:

  • 1 large jug
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dish washing liquid
  • 3 bowls
  • 3 different food colourings
  • 3 straws
  • white paper
  • paper towel (optional)

To make bubble prints:

  1. Fill the jug with the water and dishwashing liquid and stir gently with one of the straws to combine.
  2. Pour a good squirt of food colouring into each bowl then top up with the soap mixture. Put a straw in each bowl.
  3. Invite children to blow bubbles into the soap mixture and watch as bubble grow in the bowl.
  4. Before the bubbles disappear gently press the paper on top of the bubbles and hold until the bubbles have popped (a couple of seconds).
  5. Lift the paper to reveal your bubble print! Keep making more prints to create your own art work, or just for the fun of it.

Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky} Bubble Prints {via Octavia and Vicky}

Tips for successful bubble printing:

  • Gather all your bits and pieces and set up the activity before eager kids join in.
  • Use a safety pin or needle to poke a hole through each straw. This will help avoid children slurping the soap liquid up the straw and into their mouths.
  • Place paper towel under the bowls to help soak up any spills as they happen.
  • The more food colouring you add, the more intense your colours will be.
  • Wear old clothes! Food colouring stains.

Have you ever tried bubble printing? 

Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.


Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

Garden Treasures Play Dough

Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

One of Pebble’s favourite things to do is collect treasures from the garden. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not finding her garden treasures in my pockets, her bags, on shelves and random containers around the house (even in the fridge!?!). They are very meaningful to her, and she pretends with them in lots of different ways. Sometimes they’re part of her fairy world, or perhaps ingredients for cooking, other times they are presents for her friends.

One gorgeous summer morning we took a basket out into the garden and had a hunt for garden treasures together. Pebble delighted in finding leaves, twigs, flowers, gum nuts and seed pods, chatting about them all the way. Colour was very important to her and she noticed the slightest variations in colour from leaf to leaf. We gathered flowers with tiny petals and the smallest gum nuts, then giant seed pods and miniature pine cones.

When we were all done with exploring we took our collection inside while we made some play dough. Together we poured, stirred, kneaded and rolled, until we had the perfect consistency of soft, pliable play dough, just begging to be played with. We took the play dough and garden treasures back outside and sat in the shade. Pebble started immediately ‘cooking’ with all her bits and pieces, creating a delicious dinner. Then her play segued into making a pot for holding flowers, one that dries hard (apparently), and placing flowers just so.

We kept the play dough and garden treasures and revisited them throughout the week, each time they took on new meaning through imagination and were added to with more garden treasures. It was lovely to see how the simplest ingredients lead to magical play and watch as it unfolded over time.

Garden Treasures Play Dough (No Cook)

Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

You will need:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • approx. 2 cups boiling water
  • food colouring (if you like, we left ours natural)
  • garden treasures: twigs, leaves, pine cones, rocks, grass, flowers, seed pods, bark. Whatever you can find in your garden!

To make the play dough:

  • combine the dry ingredients
  • combine the water and oil (and food colouring if you’re using it) and stir into to the dry ingredients until a dough forms.
  • knead until smooth and stretchy (careful, the dough will be hot!)
  • store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky} Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky} Garden Treasures Play Dough {via Octavia and Vicky}

What’s the weirdest place you’ve found one of your kid’s collections in? Anyone else found gravel in their fridge?!

Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.


Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

Looking for more play inspiration?

Pretend Play Inspiration - 11 fun ideas {Octavia and Vicky}

Invitation to Play Picture Frames and Loose Parts

Sticky Paper Play for Babies and Preschoolers

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}Right now I’m all about finding activities that both my children can do together or at the same time. Multitasking! This sticky paper play is perfect.

What’s sticky paper? In Australia it’s called “contact” and it’s the stuff we use to cover our kids school books with, among other things. We can buy it at the supermarket pretty easily, especially at the beginning of the school year. This clear stuff is the easiest to find, either at stationary shops or the supermarket, and is pretty cheap too.

Looking for more baby play ideas?
Get your copy of Zero to Two: the book of play.

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Sticky Paper Play for Babies and Preschoolers

You will need:

  • 1 roll of contact (sticky paper)
  • masking tape
  • craft supplies (we used foam shapes, cup cake wrappers and pop sticks because they were the most baby friendly options)

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}

For baby play:

  • Cut a large rectangle of sticky paper from the roll. Carefully remove the paper backing and use masking tape to stick it sticky-side-up to the floor.
  • Show baby the paper, encourage baby to touch the paper and crawl on it. Put light toys on the paper and encourage baby to pick the toys up.

Sticky paper play for babies and preschoolers {via Octavia and Vicky}

For preschooler play: 

  • Cut a large rectangle of sticky paper from the roll. Carefully remove the paper backing and fold back the top and bottom edge to stick the paper to your chosen surface. We used a window but you could use a wall or easel.
  • Stand back and watch the creativity flow! Preschoolers love creating on sticky easels like this. It’s also great for toddlers and school kids – we had another go a week or so later when my 8 year old nephew came over to visit. He loved it :)

Looking for more fun things to do with preschoolers and babies? Try these:

Zero to Two - The Book of Play

Shaving Foam Sensory Bag - Quick, easy, mess free fun for kids of all ages

Ball and Tube Play for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Sensory Play with Lemon Scented Rice

Sensory play with lemon scented rice {Octavia and Vicky} Last week we found ourselves with a beautiful spring day and a tree full of lemons, so we decided to make some lemon scented rice for sensory play. I’d love to say there was an exact science to our recipe, but we just made it up as we went along. I’ll try and give you an idea, so that you can make it at home too.

Lemon Scented Sensory Rice

You will need:

  • white rice (we used about 8 cups)
  • lemon zest (we used 4 lemons)
  • lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • yellow food colouring (about a teaspoon)
  • 1 large zip lock bag
  • 1 large baking tray

How to  make it:

  • Pour the rice, zest, juice and colouring into the zip lock bags (or any large container).
  • Mix it around and around until all the rice is a lovely, lemon yellow.
  • Add more yellow if you want more colour, but be warned that it might turn orange if you add too much!
  • Add more zest if you want more lemon scent.
  • Tip the rice into the tray and leave in the sun to dry….. or just start playing right away like we did. You might get a little yellow on your hands, but it washed off easily enough :)

Sensory play with lemon scented rice {Octavia and Vicky} Sensory play with lemon scented rice {Octavia and Vicky} Sensory play with lemon scented rice {Octavia and Vicky}Imaginary sensory play - lemon scented rice {Octavia and Vicky}

We tipped the rice into Pebble’s play table and she added some bark, flowers, rocks, a bowl of water and a few of her favourite toys. She sat under the lemon tree playing happily, chatting her herself and telling stories. It really was a very pleasant way to spent a morning.

Do your kids like playing with rice?