Sensory bins were one of our favourite easy to set up and reuse activities to do with our kids when they were toddlers and preschoolers. I used to set them at the beginning of a week and then keep them out for a week or two letting the kids explore the theme and have fun. One of our requirements was that they had to be taste safe – our youngest would put EVERYTHING in their mouth. Here are our simple ideas for sensory bins for each month of the year.

Child's hand in a rice filled sensory bin

Simple Sensory Box Ideas for a Year of Fun

Sensory bins have been a hit in classrooms and homes around the world. If you are unfamiliar with sensory bins, they’re a large container that contains different objects and materials. Each item in the sensory bin is carefully thought out as to help stimulate the various senses a person has. Kids love this kind of stuff! It introduces them to objects that feel different. If you’re looking to make a homemade sensory bin, here is a year’s worth of sensory bin ideas.

January Sensory Bin – Snow and Ice

Check out these simple ideas for sensory bins in January.

bringing snow indoors

Why not use real snow to create a simple sensory bin that your toddlers will love.

Simple Play with Arctic Sensory Tub

You could also set up a Arctic Sensory Tub this month with ice cold rice and a mirrors base.

playing in a sensory bin filled with cloud dough pretending it is snow

Not got snow then you could use a simple cloud dough to mimic snow instead.

February Sensory Bin – Sensory Play Hearts

One of the fun parts of February is Valentine’s Day.

I really love this Valentine touchy-feely hearts sensory bin idea.

Place a bunch of LARGE buttons in a smaller bin. (Buttons can be harder to come by in large quantities to reduce the bin size to fill).

Add scoops into the bin, so they can move around the buttons.

Also, place heart-shaped cookie cutters or objects into the bin with the buttons. We like adding in some silicone heart shaped cupcake cases.

Valentines Sensory Play
Expand more on the Valentines theme with our selections of simple ideas for Valentines Themed Sensory Play and Crafts with your Toddlers.

Why not try some of our Food-free Sensory Bin Ideas for Toddlers

March Themed Sensory Bin – Spring & Farms

farm sensory bin being played with by a preschooler

Sensory bins don’t always have to be filled to the brim with beans or rice instead why not set them up for some small world play like our Old MacDonald’s Farm Sensory Bin.

five little speckled frog sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers

Ponds and frogs is a great theme for late March and our Frog Pond Sensory Bin for the Nursery Rhyme 5 Little Speckled Frogs is great fun to play in and use.

Towards the end of the month why not set up an Easter Themed Sensory bin, remove the plush bunny and it will take you nicely into April as well with some garden fun.

picking up balls within a sensory tub to practice fine motor skills

April – Garden Themed Sensory Fun

This is probably one of my favourite sensory bins ideas.

With a garden theme in mind, you will have fun with this one.

Put actual dirt in a bin. In the bin, also add small gardening tools like shovels and rakes. They sell small gardening tools made out of plastic.

You can also add fake flowers. My kids have always loved this theme and we used it every year before we started to grow our plants in the garden with the kids.

No matter how much space you have you can easily grow a salad with your kids. Check out our step-by-step guide to growing in a container.

May – Rice Sensory Bin

For May we like to take a little inspiration from Cinco De Mayo and use coloured rice.

mixing up colours in rice sensory tub
Rice play in a sensory bin with an easy tutorial on how to dye the rice.

Rice makes a great ingredient for a sensory bin any time of the year.

You can add random items like a spoon, plastic cupcake containers, cookie cutters, playdough toys, and anything else you can think of can be added.

Why not check out some of our Book Themed Sensory Bins to encourage your toddler and preschooler with reading as well!

June – Beach Themed Sensory Bin

June seems to be the month most associated with warmer weather.

This is the perfect month to do a beach themed sensory bin.

Quick and easy to set up sensory bin for preschoolers to explore, learn and use for retelling favourite ocean-themed storybooks.

I like to do Kinetic Sand for this one. This type of sand is so fun to play in and it’ll keep the kids busy for hours.

Add seashells and your favorite small beach accessories to this bin.

July – Water Sensory Bin

If you can get your kiddos outside to enjoy a water sensory bin or water table, do it!

sand and water table

The water sensory bin is the easiest because you’ll add water and toys to a bin or table and let the kids go crazy!

August – Sensory Bin Ideas

As a mum I have always struggled most with what to do with the kids in August.

It’s so long and all of the toddler and preschool activities in the UK seemed to stop because of the school summer holidays.

10+ Ideas for Summer Themed Sensory Bins Ideal for Toddlers to play with this season

So to avoid getting bored last year I put together our list of favourite Summer Themed Sensory Bins that you and your little ones will love. Dip into these ideas and choose your favourites for the month of August.

September – Fall Themed Sensory Bin

Fall is finally here, which makes this the perfect opportunity to add leaves to a sensory bin.

Let the kids squish and crunch the leaves. They can make a mess in the bin without being a big deal. You can also add sticks and tiny rocks.

October – Space Theme

In the UK, by the time October arrives the kids have spent a lot of time looking at the stars as it gets dark so early in the evening.

So we tend to put together a space themed sensory bin for them using dyed chickpeas as well as some space themed toys and objects we have around the house.

November Themed Bin – Thanksgiving

Pumpkins are a great sensory bin idea!

You can get pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. You can also add other fruits and veggies to the bin.

I like to add chickpeas to a bin like this, it just makes it more fun. You can also add dried corn as well!

December – Gift Giving Sensory Bin

Inspired by one of our favourite Christmas Books we made a fake snow sensory bin for the Jolly Postman to deliver the presents to the houses for Christmas time.

More Ideas for Sensory Play with Toddlers & Preschoolers

Edible Play Dough Recipe with 2 ingredients
Recipe to make Edible Play Dough a simple material for taste safe play with toddlers & preschoolers
Discover how trace fossils are made with this fun sensory science activity for kids using edible mud dough and dinosaurs.
Edible Mud Dough a fun recipe for playing with Dinosaurs that the kids will love.

Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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