Sensory Boxes for Beginners

For months I have been admiring sensory bins created by other bloggers. Sensory bins are an invitation to play if I have ever seen one. I decided I wanted to make a sensory box too! But other than a few cool photos to gather a general idea from, I knew nothing about what a sensory box really was.

I am close to wrapping up a developmental psychology degree, so I have a good grasp on childhood development. As most everyone knows, kids learn best through play. Jean Piaget, a cognitive childhood development theorist, best described children as "little scientists", because they form theories about the world, they test these theories actively, then they process the information they have acquired. Essentially kids are preforming the scientific method over and over again by exploring their world, forming a hypothesis,then testing it to form a conclusion.

Kids learn best when they are exploring with their senses engaged . A sensory bin offers children a chance to explore a contained environment while engaging the senses. A sensory bin can help build math skills, enhance imaginative play, develop fine motor skills. When we encourage children to learn by playing and we incorporate their senses in play we are helping kids develop the ability to use their senses and they are building the neurological pathways associated with each sense.

Sensory Bins promote learning by engaging the senses, so a sensory bin can involve touch, sound, sight, smell or taste.

To begin a sensory bin you need a bin, like a plastic storage shoe box and a base. You can use rice, sand, popcorn kernels, water beads, paper, or whatever you like as a base. Be sure to use materials that are non toxic and that you are comfortable with your child having access to.

In this St. Patrick's Day sensory bin I used green and clear water beads and small decorative green stones to provide a base of different textures.

I added green coins and reusable ice cubes in a shamrock theme. I had a large replica of a golden coin I use as a paper weight so I added that too.

I wanted my son to feel the smoothness of the stones and the moist, jelly like texture of the water beads. And to notice how they felt together.

I asked him to find all of the shamrocks and to count them. This was something he was happy to do. He loves to count. I asked him to count the green coins, he happily plucked them out of the bin and counted them off.

Before we could go any further my son had a few of his action figure guys, the "dudes", in hand,  he gave me a smile and started making them jump from the ledge of the box into the sensory bin. He laughed happily and gave the dudes a bubble bath.

This St. Patrick's Day sensory bin incorporated fun things to touch, we worked on our counting skills and it inspired my son to jump into an imaginative play session. It also kept him busy all day long. It is always nice when he is playing with a toy that doesn't have batteries or a screen.

I hope that this post will be helpful if you are new to sensory bins. Kids of all ages will enjoy the chance to have a sensory play session.


  1. what a neat idea. I have been reading a lot of posts lately about sensory bins.

  2. Adorable idea! This would be fun for a preschool classroom. Stopping over from Tip Me Tuesday!

  3. I love this! I think a great myth about sensory bins is that they need to be complicated and they really don't - I think simple is best and less overwhelming to a little one. (Congrats on your degree, by the way!)

  4. I did a sensory tub with the kids this year with shaving cream and corn starch, then placed different saint patties day stuff in it. They had a blast.


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