How to Make a Sensory Bin

Do you already know what a sensory bin is and how to make one?

I didn’t, so I went to my favorite activity resource, No Time for Flash Cards. Allie has many sensory tub suggestions, including a lot of things I would never have considered.

Materials for a Basic Sensory Bin

sensory tub materials

Totally inspired by Allie’s many sensory bin activities, I headed to my pantry cupboard. I found two bags of lentils (brown and red) and a bag of popcorn.

Next, I invaded my craft supplies, finding some sparkly pompoms and foam stickers.

Last, I raided Grace’s Easter basket, choosing 3 small pieces of candy.

I dumped everything into a 9×13 casserole dish.

Playing with our Sensory Bin

I’d always thought that sensory bins were messy and pointless. I was wrong.

sensory tub stickers

As soon as I set the casserole dish down on the floor, Grace dug in, picking out all of the stickers and candy and putting them into a bucket. Eventually, she poured them back in.

sensory tub for the whole family

Soon, she grabbed Easter eggs and kitchen supplies.

many containers sensory tub

Before long, she had all of the measuring cups and spoons, mixing spoons, and all sorts of cups and bowls from her play kitchen.

pouring lentils sensory tub

She was mixing and pouring.

I was happy to see her pouring the small kernels without much spillage, into the ice cream dish and into the spice jar.

sensory tub fine motor skills

It was irresistible. Joe, Grace, my sister, and I spent a whole afternoon mixing and pouring and sorting and mixing again.

We had sandwiches and ice cream, all imaginary. We passed and shared. It was great.

whole family playing in sensory tub

Grace had fun stacking the filled containers.

pouring with a spoon

Joe spent the afternoon picking popcorn kernels out of our bin so that he could have a snack. It turns out that I used the last of it. Oops!

picking popcorn out of sensory tub

By the time we were done playing, he had almost enough for an afternoon snack.

sensory tub red lentils

The only problem was that lentils and popcorn kernels were everywhere. Fortunately, my sister noticed that this big, metal spoon picked them up with almost no effort. It only took a few minutes to get the bulk of it picked up this way. The vacuum did the rest.

cleaning up sensory tub

I left the casserole dish in the living room for a few days, and Grace went back to it every single afternoon. She loved playing in it, even when no one was playing with her.

lentils popcorn sensory tub

Allie suggested putting the contents of the dish into a giant zip-top bag to save for later playing. I thought that was a great idea.

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© 2010 – 2013, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.


  1. rydermakes3 says

    This is so cool! I think Ryder would really love this, especially since he is more hands on and would rather be taking things apart to discover how they work, rather than play with his millions of toys. By the way, as I was reading this, he was next to me and said, “that little girl got to come to my birfday, Mommy.” :) I told him that the little girl's name is Grace, and she has a birthday shortly after him. Hard to believe they are going to be three so very soon!

  2. HeathersHodgepodge says

    I am going to make this for BB. He loves digging for stuff. I think since he's a little older, I'm going to give him a picture list of things to find and make it a scavenger hunt :)

  3. says

    We love our sensory tub. I was the same as you—I didn't get it. But once I tried it we're hooked! My son comes up to me and says “beans? beans? beans?” :)

  4. says

    That last picture is particularly adorable. I used to have an enormous sensory tub in my kitchen, using rice that I didn't like. 😉 The kids loved it but it sure did make a mess! I think beans would be a great alternative!!


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