One of the top passions and priorities in my life is education. I am a lifelong learner myself, proudly holding a Master’s degree in education. I have been a child educator and care giver in many capacities throughout my life. I am passionate about education at all ages and levels and especially at early childhood when so much about a person is formed in such a short period of time. I want to share with you how to create your own powerful tools for learning. Specifically sensory bins. I am crazy passionate about sensory bins because in my opinion, they are the single activity that provides opportunity for the most diverse learning experiences for kids. To learn more about the specific benefits of sensory bin learning and to see more of my own sensory bin ideas you can read a previous blog post of mine. Here is how to make and use Ocean themed sensory bins for preschool/ kindergarten learners and one for infants as well.
You can find so many items in your own home just by poking around. One of your goals is to find a mix of items that differ in texture, size, weight, color, etc. Check the bottom of the toy bins and borrow from sets of toys for the theme you need. . .
- cookie cutters, measuring cups, measuring spoons, tongs
- books, magazines, music, apps and videos
- beads, buttons, erasers, stickers,
- game pieces, plastic figures, stuffed animals, toys
- wooden toys and natural elements like rocks, shells,
- coordinating fabrics, ribbons, papers. . .
Whatever you cant find at home you will find at the dollar store, second hand store or craft store. (Carefully sanitize all items from second hand stores. You can spray items with a bleach and water solution or use other methods.)
You need fillers that are fun to manipulate and interesting to touch. You can make your own SUPER EASY colored rice here. You can use dirt from your yard, cheap aquarium rocks, dry beans, shaving cream. . . whatever fits your theme and your lifestyle.
Once you get your items put together you can use different things to create the play environment:
- train table
- water/sand table
- plastic storage container
- cardboard box
- floor mat
- cookie sheet
Ask questions like these to engage child in learning through play:
- show me big, bigger, biggest
- which object rhymes with “wish”?
- How many things can you find that are yellow?
- See this animal? What is it called? Shark or whale?
- Which shell has lines on it?
- Copy this pattern I made from erasers.
- Now you create a pattern for me to follow.
- Find a sea animal that starts with the “p” sound
- Can you move these puff balls into the ice cube trays without using your hands? What tools could you use to move the balls.
- How many of these spoonfuls does it take to fill the cup with rice?
- what letter does this start with?
- which item is the heaviest? Which of the fish weighs the most?
- can you put the shiny rock under the crab?
- which item feels scratchy?
- What does the shell feel like? What about the paper fish?
- How many octopus are there? What if I take 4 away? Add 2?
TIP: Another activity for this is to give children small/med sized plastic containers to create their own “dry” aquariums with the materials from the sensory bin. This leads to imaginary play and a new opportunity to learn in a different way!
To modify the ocean sensory bin experience for babies, use larger, safe (infant appropriate) toys that are in the same theme.
While babies explore objects:
- name the creatures and items
- point out connections like texture, color, etc.
- supplement with song and stories about oceans and ocean creatures
If you think that your little one will put smaller items like rice or racks in their mouth, you can always hold them so that their feet can explore the fillers!
Sensory give little ones ways to learn and make valuable connections to future learning. It provides rich experiences to their learning repertoire.
Have questions about sensory bins? Ask them in the comments!
Does your little one love Ocean theme and have a birthday coming up? You could make the sensory bins as an activity for the little ones for extraordinary entertainment at the party!! Here are some other supplies that I think are super cute for the Ocean themed Birthday.
Cool.. i did not know these can be done that way.. thanks for the information!
Wow! I love this! I’m so trying that at home because my daughter loves fish.
I will have to do this one after my youngest is a little older. At 1 she still likes to put everything in her mouth. So right now colored rice isn’t the best idea. But it’s a good idea for older ones for sure. 😀
This is such a great idea, Jen! I love the questions you included with it!
Diane @ Philzendia
I love the ocean theme. I do not know much about sensory bins. My son never had one but I’m hearing a lot about them now.
This is really cool! This is a great way to help toddlers and children with things like Autism learn and interact. Love it.
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
That is a fantastic idea. And it looks pretty easy to put together, too 🙂
This is a great activity for toddlers!! My sister would love this for her preschool!
Myrah - Coupon Mamacita
This is really great. I’ve seen sensory bins before, but I’ve never seen how they’re made or why. Thanks.
Tammi @ My Organized Chaos
This is a great idea, and buying them is so expensive. You’d save a ton!
I had never heard of a sensory bin when I had my daughter in the 90s. It’s such an interesting concept!
Oh wow, this is dope! I’m going to try this with my son.
I think sensory bins are great and all kids love to touch the different textures. This are some very creative tips and a great guide.
I love how cute and clever this idea is. My son has autism, so we went through our fair share of sensory boxes
This is completely awesome! My daughter has sensory issues so this would come in great!
Mama to 5 BLessings
What cute ideas. I made one of these for my son a few years ago when we were learning about Sea Creatures, instead of using rice I used little rocks for the fish tank.
I love how you turn your studies into a unit for your kids. I used to do this when my kids were little.
This is so cool! I wish I’d known about these when my kids were little.
Stacey - Craft Blogger
You did an amazing job on this! It’s never too early to promote learning.
What a great idea. I never thought to do something like this. I bet my kids would really love this too. It would be a nice decoration for our house. You did a great job!
I don’t have kids, so I just recently learned what a sensory bin is. It’s a really great idea to introduce kids to new things at a young age.
This is just great. We had basic sensory bins and bags for my kids but these are so much better. Thanks for sharing.
What a great idea. You did an amazing job.
Sensory toys are such a great learning tool for young kids! Love the ocean theme – going to have to make one for my little guy!
I would love to do something like this for my toddler. His older siblings are at school and this would be a fun project.
Sandra @ A Dash of Sanity
I have been hearing so much about sensory bins lately. This looks like such a fun and education idea. Thanks for sharing.
Sensory bins are such valuable learning tools. My kids would be totally into this ocean themed one!
This is super cute! I especially love the Nemo themed one!
I love sensory bins. It’s so important to introduce young children to new stimuli. It helps their development so much.
THis actually looks super creative and fun to do with the children; I’d love to have this!
good thinking, i love this idea!
This is will be perfect for my friends little girl. I will share this post with her so we can make it.
My kids would love a bin like this! I love the blue rice addition!
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