You can find really elaborate ideas for Sensory Bins ALL over Pinterest and Instagram… but seriously, who has time to put those together? Cutesy bins with rice in every color of the rainbow and themed figurines are nice, but your infant and toddler would be just fine (and probably even happier) with some simple things from your kitchen. We were fighting some rainy days this spring, so I put together a few of the Sensory Bin ideas we have loved this year.
1. Flour Sensory Bin
Fair warning — this one is a MESS. It’s also the bin that my kids loved the most and spent way over an hour in. I put an under-the-bed storage bin on top of a quilt and filled it with flour. I stuck in some kitchen utensils, and that was that. I put N right inside the bin with the flour, and L was content to kneel beside it while she worked. L actually spent most of her time pouring flour onto N’s body… we definitely had bath time as soon as they were done with this bin!
N was so focused on trying to pick up each of the kitchen tools in the flour. She didn’t try to eat any of it — but even if she did, it’s just flour!
L especially loved the flour sifter. N kept trying to catch the flour as it came out of the bottom of the sifter.
2. Water Sensory Bin
We had an abnormally hot day in the middle of our rainy spring, so I set up a water sensory bin outside for the girls. This was probably their second favorite bin. L used it for about an hour before she ran off to play with the neighbors, and N used it for more than an hour. Once again, I simply put some kitchen tools and recyclables into a dish bin filled with water.
N spent most of her time trying to drink water from the various cups in the bin.
L had the most fun squeezing the sponge out over and over again.
3. Rice Sensory Bin
Another bin we tried on a rainy day was one that I filled with 25lbs of rice and some more kitchen tools. I sat N right in the bin again, and L stayed on the outside at first. This bin was more successful for L than it was for N — which may have been because N didn’t nap very well that day and just wanted to go to bed. N lasted about half an hour in the bin, while L spent about an hour and a half there.
L loved spooning the rice into a bowl, pouring it out, and starting over again. When N got out to go to bed, L climbed right into the bin.
N wasn’t in the bin for very long, but she did enjoy trying to pick up the rice. She did not try to eat any. My husband was afraid that she might get rice in her ears and go deaf (sigh…), so we put cotton balls in her ears.
4. Oobleck Sensory Bin
This bin was MY least favorite, but it may have been N’s favorite. L couldn’t really decide if she liked it or not. This is an even bigger mess than the Flour Sensory Bin. Don’t attempt this when you’re the only adult home.
2 parts Cornstarch (we used 2 cups)
1 part Water (we used 1 cup)
NO food coloring!!!!!
I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT PUT FOOD COLORING IN YOUR OOBLECK. Yes, it will make it a pretty color. Yes, recipes on Pinterest say it will wash off easily. IT DOESN’T. I HAD BLUE CHILDREN FOR TWO DAYS.
I made the Oobleck and put it in an infant tub. I put N inside the tub with Oobleck while she was wearing just a diaper, and I took all of L’s clothes off except for her undies. L ended up climbing into the infant tub to be with N. N thought this was the coolest thing ever. She did try to eat it, but it’s just cornstarch, and it usually ended up dripping out of her mouth.
Clean up was a DISASTER. I was the only adult home, and I had two young children with (basically) blue concrete all over them. After staring at them while paralyzed for a few minutes, I stripped down and jumped in the shower with both of them. They HATED it. So, I have no tips for how to clean this up. Only attempt if you are extremely invested in using Oobleck.
Do you have any other ideas for Sensory Bins?