SEARCH Accessibility

Sensory Bins for Toddlers: Your Complete Guide

May 08th, 2022 | by NAPA Team


May 08th, 2022

Sensory bins are all the rage right now! In this blog, we share our favorite sensory bin ideas, including sensory items and sensory bin fillers, to help bring the best sensory experience to your toddler or child!

Sensory Bins for Toddlers: Therapist-Approved Fun

The very best thing about sensory bins is that they are just so much FUN!! As an occupational therapist, one of the things I love to see children doing the most is playing, and sensory bins make kids want to play! Children learn so much during unstructured free play – problem solving, emotional regulation, imitation, social skills, language, fine motor skills, the list is endless. So giving them new experiences in the form of a sensory bin will help them develop and hone so many new skills, all while having a blast! 

What is a Sensory Bin?

Sensory bin ideas for toddlers by NAPA pediatric therapists.Essentially, a sensory bin is a container filled with materials specifically chosen to stimulate the senses, allowing the child to explore and interact with the items as they choose. Sensory play is a great way to expose your child to a variety of textures, facilitate communication, and actively engage with your child. 


The basic components of any sensory bin are:
  1. A large washable container
  2. One or more fillers
  3. Sensory toys and tools to go inside!

Sensory Bin Ideas: A Comprehensive List to Get You Started

Now that you know WHY sensory bins are so amazing, take a gander at our list of sensory items to put inside your DIY sensory bin. We also share supplies from around the house that can be used as tools or fillers and 5 easy sensory bin ideas to start off with. This list is by no means exhaustive – use these ideas to get your gears turning! Please note that supervision may be necessary.

Dry Sensory Bin Fillers

Dyed rice can be used as a easy dry sensory bin filler.If you are looking for dry sensory bin ideas, these sensory bin fillers are great and can easily be reused time and time again. Remember that you can use things you already have around the house as sensory items for kids to create easy sensory bins!

  1. Dry rice, beans, and/or pasta 
  2. Unpopped popcorn 
  3. Sand 
  4. Cotton balls 
  5. Shredded paper 
  6. Raffia/crinkle grass 
  7. Corn Meal 
  8. Craft feathers for a feather sensory bin
  9. Packing peanuts 
  10. Beads 
  11. Gardening soil 
  12. Leaves 
  13. Birdseed 

Sticky or Wet Sensory Bin Fillers

These tend to be messier – more mess, more sensory input!

  1. Cloud dough 
  2. Kinetic sand 
  3. Homemade “snow” (mix equal parts cornstarch and baking soda, then slowly mix in water to get desired texture) 
  4. Water 
  5. Soap foam (mix 2 tablespoons dish soap, ¼ cup water and food coloring(optional) in a blender) 
  6. Water beads 
  7. Shaving cream 
  8. Oobleck (Click for the recipe!)


Household Items That Can be Used in Sensory Bins

  1. Small plastic toys to hide and search for (play insects or animal figurines, blocks, magnetic letters, play foods…get creative!)
  2. Tongs, tweezers, and spoons 
  3. Measuring cups and bowls 
  4. Silicone muffin cups
  5. Ice cube tray 
  6. Magnifying glass 
  7. Whisk, sieve, colander (for water-based bins) 
  8. Funnel 
  9. Cookie cutters and molds 
  10. Fake gems and rhinestones 


5 Easy Sensory Bin Ideas to Get You Started

Check out these “expert-endorsed” sensory bin ideas and try one at home!

1. Corn Kernel Sensory Bin (or other dry food item)

Raid your pantry for corn kernels, pinto beans, and lentils. Add a few trucks for hours of rumbling, dumping, and loading fun!

2. Food Colored Spaghetti Sensory Bin

Boil spaghetti in water tinted with food coloring.  Add tongs, spoons and forks for slimy scooping entertainment. 

3. Kinetic Sand Sensory Bin

Kinetic sand is the best. It’s moldable, melty and mysterious.  

4. Dyed Rice Sensory Bin

Dyed rice is always a sure-fire hit! Combine a few drops of food coloring, a tablespoon of vinegar, and rice to a ziplock bag and shake.  Let air dry before commencing with the scooping amusement!

5. Cloud Dough Sensory Bin

Silky, smooth and calming, cloud dough. Combine 2 cups flour with 2 ounces of baby or vegetable oil and mix well. Take it outside (it can get messy) and let the fun begin! 

We hope you find these DIY sensory bin ideas helpful for you and your child!

Let the Sensory Fun Begin!

Perhaps you’ve seen pictures floating around the internet of Tupperware containers filled with beans or rice and wondered what all the fuss was about. Or maybe you’ve tried to make a few homemade DIY sensory bins of your own but are running out of ideas. Whether sensory bins are a familiar friend or a daunting new endeavor, we hope this blog is helpful in showing you how to put together sensory bins for toddlers to introduce them to these amazing sensory experiences. 

Looking for more sensory fun? Check out these related posts:

Additional Resources:

About NAPA Centre Australia

At NAPA Centre, we believe in creating individualized programs that address every child’s specific needs across a range of different therapies. Every child is unique, which means implementing unique therapy programs is the only way to help them truly reach their full potential. Contact us today to learn more about our process and our track record of results.

TAGS: Blogs, OT
Skip to content