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As your toddler is venturing down their early childhood education journey, you may have noticed they are really checking out a lot of different things. They maybe smelling, touching or even tasting almost EVERYTHING!

Jean Piaget is a pioneer of the study of childhood development. His theory of play is based upon cognitive development requiring environmental stimuli. He viewed “play” as a process of learning. He placed this process in different stages from birth to adulthood.

It is quite normal for your toddler to try to explore new things as they play. During this stage of development, they will be discovering a lot of different things in the world around them with their senses.

Sensory play is defined as any activity that stimulates a child’s five senses. One great activity to enhance this segment of development is sensory bins!

Sensory bins are so much fun and have a lot of benefits for toddlers and parents. The bins are just plastic bins that are filled with fillers as well as a variety of objects with different colors, textures, shapes and smells.

Benefits of Sensory Bins

  • One benefit of sensory bins is fine motor skill development. Fine motor skills are those skills that we accomplish with the smaller muscles in our hands and feet. Sensory bins can involve:

grasping

pinching

scooping

pouring

All of these will help your toddler fine tune their fine motor skill development. Here are some more activities that will help your toddler with their fine motor skill development.

  • Another benefit of sensory bins is cognitive development. Sensory play helps stimulate toddler’s and preschooler’s creativity and discovery skills. This type of play also helps children engage their senses. All of these have been linked to help cognitive development.

  • A third benefit of sensory bins is focus. Sensory bins can definitely help with keeping a toddler’s attention. There is so much stimulation happening in one bin, it’s tough for them to lose focus quickly. I know my boys will stay in one bin for hours if I let them!

  • Another added benefit of sensory bins is that the objects can be switched out very easily. This is a great bonus if your little does lose focus. By simply changing the objects in the bin you can help your toddler regain focus and continue learning while playing.

  • The fifth benefit of sensory bins is sensory development. Sensory development starts from birth and continues to develop throughout the early years. Sensory bins are wonderful in helping with sensory development because they give toddlers exposure to several different colors, shapes, textures and even smells.

Now that you can see the many benefits of sensory bins, let’s jump into these ultimate sensory bins for toddlers. These are some of my favorite bins that I have tried with my little ones!

5 Ultimate Sensory Bins for Toddlers

1. Beach

The beach sensory bin is a very cool bin for toddlers. For this bin you will need sand, beach toys and tools. Buckets, shovels, dumpers, and sieves are all great tools for this particular bin.

A tip for this bin is when are ready to switch it up a bit is to add a little water to the sand. This will change the texture and allow your toddler to make items with their beach toys.

Toddlers will gain a lot of practice with fine motor skill and sensory development with this bin. Plus they will have a lot of fun pretending they are on the beach!

2. Rice

rice as an ultimate sensory bin for toddlers

The rice bin is another bin that works very well for toddlers and preschoolers. For this bin I like to have handheld magnets. Then I place magnetic objects in the rice. Your little one will have a blast pulling what they find out of the rice with their handheld magnet!

As pictured above you can see there are many options to choose from for this bin! Just use your imagination and get creative!

This bin has not disappointed yet! My boys like to pretend they are scientist!

3. Orbeez

orbeez is a great filler for sensory bins for toddlers

Orbeez sensory bins will help send your toddler on a sensory ride! They are small, colorful, soft and squishy! Plus they are very fun to play with. For this bin I like to create the ocean with different sea creature toys.

Place the toy whales, sharks, fish, starfish and crabs towards the bottom of the orbeez. Then your toddler can go on an ocean hunt to see what they can find. It’s so much fun watching them explore the texture of the beads while hunting.

If you would like to change this bin from time to time water works great!

4. Beans

Beans make another great sensory bin due to their different textures, shapes and colors. For this bin you can have jars and measuring cups.

This will allow your toddler to practice measuring and counting. They will also get practice with pouring and scooping to fill up the cups.

5. Cornmeal

The last sensory bin for toddlers on our list is cornmeal. For this bin you will need construction vehicles and toys. Bull dozers, excavators, dump trucks, you name it!

Your toddler will use the toys and their hands to explore the texture of the cornmeal. They will also get practice with pouring , filling and pushing the cornmeal with the construction toys.

Tips for Sensory Bins

While sensory bins are a fun learning and development tool there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Your toddler will need to be supervised. Especially if you decide to use bins with small pieces or objects that can be swallowed when they should not be.

  • It is important to remember towels and extra trays to help keep the areas of play clean. Sensory bins can get pretty messy so please keep these in mind as you prepare.

  • Always choose age appropriate bins. This is important for safety reasons. If you would not allow your toddler to play with an object outside of the sensory bin it probably isn’t a good idea to put it inside of the sensory bin. The same goes for preschoolers as well.

  • Try to use toys/objects/fillers that can be used again. When you do this you can save yourself a lot of time and money!

Conclusion

Sensory play is a great tool for cognitive and sensory development. It is also very helpful for focus and helping to expand your toddler’s attention span.

Sensory bins help toddlers gain experience with many different textures, shapes, colors and smells. They also help with fine motor skill development.

Remember to make this a fun time for your little one! This can also be an activity that siblings and parents can join in on too!

I hope these ideas have gotten your creative juices flowing! Do you have any other sensory ideas or tips? I would love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments.