Sensory Bin Activity

by Ms. Margaret, Primary 3


Description: Combine common items in a way that appeals to your child’s imagination


Goal: Throw together a few household materials in a container to encourage independent, creative play, stimulate the senses, and entertain your little one for a very long time!



Many, many things can work here, including:

  • water and food coloring
  • natural materials: leaves, flowers, soil, grass, sticks, rocks, herbs
  • shaving cream
  • fabric scraps
  • small plastic animals or cars
  • bubble wrap/recycled packaging
  • pantry items: dried beans, rice, pasta, or shredded coconut


Containers for pouring, spooning, and sorting:

  • bowls and plates
  • tupperware
  • ladles
  • cups
  • pitchers
  • tweezers
  • tongs


Here is a resource with an even more exhaustive list!


  • Assemble materials of choice in an appealing way in a large container.
  • Explain that the work stays inside of the bin. 
  • Many children are immediately drawn to sensory bins and get right to business! If they seem shy, you could demonstrate how to pour, mix, or sort whatever’s inside. 
  • When your child is finished, invite them to help pack away. Depending on your material, you could pour contents of the bin into a bag to store for another time, or cover it and leave it on the shelf to work with as desired. 



Examples of sensory bins I’ve made at Athena

Water with blue food coloring, pool “noodles” cut into slices with toothpicks/paper sails


Chickpeas dyed rainbow with liquid watercolor

Gourds, beans, and seeds



You can use liquid watercolor or food coloring to dye pantry staples: rice, pasta, or salt.

Including material that smells good, like herbs, coffee beans, or a couple drops of essential oil will make your sensory bin extra appealing.

It helps to plan ahead for a bit of a mess in case some spills out in all the excitement. I love making bins with natural materials like seeds, presenting them outside, and discovering surprise plants sprouting up the next year!