Home Baby 5 Tips for Introducing Sensory Bins + Cheat Sheet!

5 Tips for Introducing Sensory Bins + Cheat Sheet!

by Angela
sensory bin

As a new mama, I am all about gathering tips, ideas, and even tricks from my family, friends, and mamas I have met through playgroups or social groups. There’s so much to learn and figure out with motherhood, on top of life responsibilities … and still be able to keep up your little human’s growth spurt, milestones, leaps, and development. Whew, just by mentioning that I am already starting to feel tired and overwhelmed. But that’s precisely what being a parent and an adult is.

Being a good, responsible parent doesn’t have to be alienating. So I am trying my best to share everything we have learned while our son grows in hopes that it will be of help to other parents. The latest discovery for us is sensory bins. A lot of the moms have sworn that it is heaven sent AND the best thing they could ever hope for. I immediately tried it with our son. Except for us, things didn’t go too well. It’s not a magical option that they easily understand.

Unfortunately for me, I had to learn that the hard way. I placed an assortment of toys into a large baking pan (the glass one to make it harder to lift or flung around) then gave it to my son. He played with it like a champ for a couple of minutes, and then the last thing I remember, the toys and WATER was everywhere. Everything got very messy, and for a moment there I honestly thought I was doing things the wrong way.

Eventually, I found out that you have to train your child to interact with their sensory bins appropriately. That there’s a learning curve for them not to just toss things in and out of their container and let them play with it on their own. Here’s the catch, a sensory bin is an easy and fun activity for toddlers, and it could be less messy too –all in due time.

sensory bin cheat sheet

sensory bin cheat sheet

Tips on how to introduce sensory bins to your kids and teach them how to play it properly

1. Keep it Simple
You should start by giving them a simple sensory bin. No complicated things and avoid different objects at first. Cheerios cereal is a perfect example. Do not mix with any other food. Let your busy toddler scoop and shovel cheerios. Why cheerios? First, it is edible and small but not to the point of a choking hazard. This way you don’t have to worry if your child takes a bite –and best believe he or she will do attempt a few times until they learned not to. Second, it is easy to clean.

2. Accept That This Is Going To Be Messy
The first few times that you try sensory bins with your child, it is going to be really messy. That’s something that you can’t change. So before you venture into this activity, you have to accept this fact and set a realistic expectation. Know that you have to be patient if you want to teach your child how to play with sensory bins. Remember as well that it will be worth it. Basically, your job here is to teach them how to lessen the mess.

3. Take The Sensory Bin Away As Needed
If and when things go crazy, you can always take away the sensory bin. In fact, it is encouraged that you do so. In our household, I try my best to let our son know that he shouldn’t be trying to eat everything or tossing his sensory bin all over the place. This approach reminds them that they should follow the golden rule of keeping the items in the bin. That or they won’t be playing with it. To implement this, you can start by giving them warnings. You can tell your little one that you are going to take it away if they did not follow the golden rule. This will help them realize that by not following the rules, there is a consequence. Also, it somehow promotes obedience too.

4. Find a Spacious Area
It would be better if you set up sensory bins in a spacious area. It gives extra space to play around with less distraction. Plus the fact that it would be much easier to clean up the mess compare to being in a tight spot. If space is an issue, try to clear out a small corner and if possible, lay a rug or mat to help with any mess or water splashes.

5. Watch and Supervise At All Times
If you are going to give your kids a sensory bin, make sure that you have the time to watch and supervise them play. First and foremost of all, this is for their safety. Let’s be realistic, toddlers will always try to put something in their mouth. From personal experience, my son literally tries to put everything in his mouth like as if it belongs there. Second, to keep the mess under YOUR control. This can only be done correctly with YOUR supervision. That way you’re ahead of the situation, and you can quickly let your child or children know that it is not okay to dump everything and throw it everywhere.

scoop and transfer sensory bin

mix and match sensory bin

matching type sensory bin

The secret to FUN Sensory Bin playtime? A lot of patience and understanding so you can guide and train your child how to play with sensory toys. Obviously, it is not something they know by instinct. This task is just like teaching them how to eat correctly with a spoon and fork. Eating could be really messy in the first few months, and then they slowly learn how to master the skill and start enjoying it.

Sensory bin playtime might seem intimidating at first. While it needs a lot of work, it is not that hard to manage. Just be prepared, show up, remember to give AND take, repeat from step 1 and before you know it, you will have a pro in your hands who is busy enjoying their activities.

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Sarah Bailey April 22, 2019 - 7:17 pm

These sound like some wonderful ideas for helping to make sensory items for kids! I love how simply it can be done!

Anosa April 22, 2019 - 7:59 pm

Its nice of you to have learnt the tricks and shared your tips, we struggled when we started to search for the best sensory tools for our champs.

Rebecca Smith April 22, 2019 - 8:55 pm

This is such a handy guide for introducing sensory bins for children. You definitely need space and must expect it to be messy.

Michael April 22, 2019 - 11:51 pm

New thing for me. I did not know that this plays a role for kids really. You guys are awesome mothers.

kumamonjeng April 23, 2019 - 9:29 am

Find a spacious area is really an important one as it gives extra space to play around with less distraction. You have all the valid tips here and glad you have shared it here.

Rhian Westbury April 23, 2019 - 9:30 am

My friend loves doing sensory play with her kids and they really seem to enjoy it x

Norafiqin April 23, 2019 - 9:47 am

This sounds like a lot of work, but so much fun! We don’t have kids now, but this is an excellent idea to pass on to my friends with children.

Lisa April 23, 2019 - 10:52 am

I’ve never heard of these sensory bins before, but they’re clearly useful. I can imagine as a new mother it’s of big help to you!

Lyosha April 23, 2019 - 1:18 pm

looks like a great idea! I think it’s awesome to introduce it like that!

Krista April 23, 2019 - 1:26 pm

What a great way to introduce sensory bins. I’m a MOntessori mom, so sensory bins are part of the curriculum and education, although I’ve never implemented well. I like your suggestions and will definitely try this way! I love your blog by the way; I will definitely continue following!

samantha April 23, 2019 - 3:14 pm

My brohters used something simliar when they were having speech therapy. Very cool tool!

Jenny MacKenzie April 23, 2019 - 5:36 pm

Hahaha “accept that it is going to be messy.” Love it and so true! What a great piece!

bex allum April 23, 2019 - 5:41 pm

As a childminder I love sensory bins, pasta and rice are very popular here.

Jay April 23, 2019 - 7:03 pm

Looks like fun. My kids would love to play with this!

Bella and Dawn at Dear Mummy Blog April 23, 2019 - 9:55 pm

What a great list of ideas and perfect for trying with our tuff spot over the holidays

Rhonda Albom April 24, 2019 - 3:08 am

These sensory bins sound like a good idea. I think my kids effectively had sensory bins whenever I put a plate of food in front of them. Well, at least if getting messy was a fundamental expectation.

Cindy Ingalls April 24, 2019 - 4:50 am

This is such a clever idea. I can see how it could help your child engage their senses. Though there is a learning curve for us parents, with a little practice and patience, it can be fun for you both.

Stephanie April 24, 2019 - 10:10 am

My nephew would love this kind of play – I’ll have to put a sensory bin together for him next time he’s round x

Rosey April 24, 2019 - 10:20 am

Sensory bins are the best. We had a teacher years ago who did this for all of the kids. She was way ahead of her time. 🙂

leah April 24, 2019 - 1:53 pm

ok I totally loved reading this and needed the cheat sheet! I keep seeing these and have a 2 and 5 year old who would love them but had no idea where to start!

Kalyan Panja April 24, 2019 - 3:19 pm

Thanks for sharing these nice tips on sensory bins. parents will find it useful.

Louise April 24, 2019 - 9:35 pm

We love sensory bins. They’re so much fun!

Louise x

Jasmine Hewitt April 24, 2019 - 11:03 pm

sensory bins are great for kids. my son has a few

Njkinny April 25, 2019 - 10:19 am

Great tips. I have been thinking of introducing sensory bins to my baby and these tips will surely come handy.

katrina April 25, 2019 - 8:24 pm

I love tough trays to fill with messy play items and edibles, there are some items i havent tried in your list so thanks for the inspiration

Sundeep April 26, 2019 - 6:34 am

Thanks for sharing amazing tips on how to play sensory bins properly/

Sandra May 8, 2019 - 1:32 pm

Love how detailed this is!! I can definitely share these to my patients as well, especiall for the pediatrics.


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