12 DIY Sensory Bins Get Little Hands Digging Through New Textures (2024)

12 DIY Sensory Bins Get Little Hands Digging Through New Textures (1)

Before I became a parent, I had no idea what a sensory bin was or why anyone would ever want or need one. Now as a mother to a child with the beginning stages of sensory integration disorder, however, all I think about are the ways I can introduce her to the wild and wonderful world of different textures and materials.

Since her occupational therapist appointments were out of the question during most of the COVID-19 pandemic and her Montessori zoom sessions were a complete disaster — have you ever tried to keep a 22-month-old engaged for more than three minutes? — I had to find ways to continue her sensory discoveries on my own. Thankfully, within the first day of searching, I discovered sensory bins. Sensory bins are plastic tubs or large containers filled with materials, objects and toys that are carefully selected to stimulate the senses. Commonly composed of water, paper, kinetic or "slimy" sand and water, these bins help your child overcome their aversion to different textures and materials in a safe and fun environment.

Even kids without such an aversion can benefit. “Children, especially young children, learn through the exploration of the environment," says Natalie DeLaCroix-Roy Ang, O.T.D., O.T.R., director of occupational therapy at Platt College in California. "Exploration of textures, shapes, scents and colors teaches them about their world. The world can be a frightening, threatening place when a child does not understand what he/she is experiencing. It’s like getting dropped off in a foreign country and being overwhelmed by the unfamiliar sounds, foods and customs. Sensory bins make novel sensations safe and familiar.”

Perfect for kids from ages 12 months and up, we’ve rounded up the best sensory bins for kids of all ages and in all stages of sensory integration. To start, get a bin, kinetic sand and slime, or follow the simple tutorials below.

Rainbow Pasta Noodles Sensory Bin

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Bright, bold, and super easy to make, rainbow pasta can be created from pantry staples you already have and help create a sensory experience that’s full of different and exciting textures. Simply dump the colored noodles into a big pan and add figurines, balls and more treasures for kids to find as they dig through.

Get the tutorial at Typically Simple »

RELATED: Fun Toddler Activities That Give Their Bodies and Brains a Boost

Shaving Cream Sensory Bin

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One of the most budget-friendly bins on the list, all you need is a bottle of shaving cream, some food dye, and whatever water toys your kids love most! You can fill a bin, or for added fun, turn this into a fun bath time activity for kids who hate baths!

Get the tutorial at Hello Wonderful »

Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

Made for less than $3, this rainbow rice is pretty to look at and inexpensive to create. Using an assortment of acrylic paint, this is the ultimate canvas for any kind of sensory bin — simply add your child’s favorite toys for them to find buried, along with scoops and bowls for kids to use to pour the rice.

Get the tutorial at The Best Ideas for Kids »

RELATED: The Best At-Home Learning Activities for Toddlers

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Car-Themed Sensory Bin

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Do your little ones love all things cars, trucks, and buses? Make a sensory bin that brings their favorite things into one box. With dried black beans, straws, toilet paper rolls, and other essentials you most likely have in stock, this is as easy as it is budget-friendly. Have your son or daughter add their favorite Hot Wheels to truly customize it to their preferences.

Get the tutorial at Buggy and Buddy »

Press N' Seal Art Sensory Bin

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My feelings towards glitter are best described by Madam Gazelle in Peppa Pig, “Glitter gets everywhere, it is a menace!” If you too have faced far too many afternoons scrubbing glitter out of your house but your child loves it, try this Press N’ Seal bin! Made with Ziploc bags, paint, confetti, poms, and a few other materials, this takes all the fun with glitter without any mess.

Get the tutorial at Design Improvised »

RELATED: Fun Activities for 1-Year-Olds You Can Make With Items You Already Have

Weather Sensory Bin

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With pom poms that represent ice and snow, pipe cleaners for lightning and a few other touches, you'll have a sensory bin perfect for any weather. Kids can make it "rain" colored rice.

Get the tutorial at Life Anchored »

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Duplo Wash Sensory Bin

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Toddlers can scrub and scoop their Duplo blocks with this bubbly bin. Note: It's probably wise to put towels beneath the bin if you can't put it out in the backyard.

Get the tutorial at Mama Papa Bubba »

Rainbow Soap Foam Sensory Bin

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This is hands-down one of the easiest on the list, and also one of the most fun — especially for summer! Made with just washable colors, hand soap, water, and a blender, you can take your sensory experience outdoors for a bubbly, foamy fun afternoon.

Get the tutorial at Active Littles »

RELATED: Fun Learning Activities for Elementary School Kids to Enjoy at Home

Halloween Sensory Bin

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If you don’t have the sensory staples — like kinetic sand and slime — on hand, use items you have in your kitchen and bathroom for a big and spooky bin perfect for Halloween. Made with Ziploc bags, shaving cream, googly eyes and hand soap, this bin can be whipped up faster than you can say, "Boo!"

Get the tutorial at A Night Owl »

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Taste-Safe Moon Sand Sensory Bin

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With toddlers, the one thing you’ll learn quickly is that they put everything in their mouth (especially when they’re teething). Give your little one a sensory bin that pairs something new with something that’s also safe to eat (although they might not like the taste). Add some dinosaurs, plastic shells and other beach toys to bring the bin to life.

Get the tutorial at The Best Ideas for Kids »

Spring-Themed Sensory Bin

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Teach your kids about a new season and let them feel new textures all in one box. Made with green lentils, mini flower pots, DIY flowers, sprinkles and straws, you can give them a full garden of experiences.

Get the tutorial at Buggy and Buddy »

Dinosaur Sensory Bin

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Any dino-loving kiddo will love this fun sensory bin that brings the prehistoric times to life. Mixing sand, water, stones, faux trees and plastic dinosaurs, this bin is full of textures that can help your child overcome their sensory aversions with a toy they love.

Get the tutorial at ABCs of Literacy »

12 DIY Sensory Bins Get Little Hands Digging Through New Textures (2024)

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