3 Tips for Using Sensory Bins Without Losing Your Mind

12:25 PM

Colorful rice sensory bin with abc activity with title "Using Sensory Bins Without Losing Your Mind"

Sensory bins! Does anyone else CRINGE when hearing that word in the classroom? The first image that used to come to my mind was colored pasta scattered all over the floor and sand thrown at friends from across the table. It sounded like a messy nightmare.

I'm happy to report, this is not the case... not if you do it the right way! After giving sensory bins a chance and lots of trial and error, I’ve figured out what works for me and my kiddos, and I am sharing my tips with others.

Why We Use Sensory Bins

First, let’s understand why we should be using sensory bins in the early primary classrooms. There's a reason you'll find them in most preschool classrooms. Sensory bins offer plenty of open- ended opportunities for age- appropriate skill development. Some of the benefits of sensory bins include:

  • Expansion of vocabulary and language skills
  • Stimulation of multiple senses at once
  • Opportunities to learn through play
  • Peer interaction and social skill development
  • Can be linked to just about any learning objective
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Increased student engagement
When multiple senses are engaged, learning happens. Hands- on activities can be some of the most memorable experiences for children. Get kids involved in first hand learning whenever you can and keep it fun! Sensory bins are a perfect way to do exactly that. Read on for tips on how to use sensory bins in your classroom.

3 TIPS FOR USING SENSORY BINS (Without Losing Your Mind)

So now that you know the benefits of sensory bins, here are some tips for using them in the classroom.

Colored rice sensory bin with title "Using Sensory Bins Without Losing Your Mind". sensory bin tips 1.  Use Larger Fillers (especially when first introducing sensory bins).
Sensory bins don’t need to consist of rice and sand. Fillers can be large and easy to manage and clean up. Some examples of less messy fillers are:

These items are just as engaging as the smaller fillers like sand and rice! They're a great way to start off with sensory bins. Add smaller fillers when you feel your students are ready and understand how to use the bins.

 2. Model & Practice
Ok, this one is a biggie! Children need direct modeling and practice to understand and learn routines and expectations. Just like other classroom routines and procedures, model and practice your sensory bin expectations until you feel confident that the children understand what to do (and what not to do).

And even when you feel that the kiddos are doing well, be sure to keep an eye or sit nearby to be sure they continue following through with your expectations. Remind children of your sensory bin rules, such as keeping the filler in the bins, no throwing, and never putting the bin items in their mouths.

 3. Incorporate Activities You're Already Using
Don’t invent new activities and spend tons of time preparing anything special for the bin. Use what you already have! This makes implementation for both the teacher and students SO much more simple. It's less work for you and is a nice familiar item for them to work with. They're already familiar with it so they know how to use it.

Those shapes manipulatives you used for math this morning? Throw them in a bin with some beans. Let students find them in the filler and identify them. If you have a memory game, add those cards to a shredded paper sensory bin and have students play memory by choosing the cards from the bin. Or if you like to “write the room,” hide the cards in a rice bin rather than around the room. Students find the cards in the bin and write them on their recording sheet. Add your magnetic letters to bin filled with elbow noodles. Put your base ten blocks in a bin filled with pom poms and add them up.

You get the idea. Take what you have and plop it into the bin for a fun twist on a regular center activity. Almost ANY activity can be added into the sensory bin for an extra boost of engagement and learning. Try it with whatever you have on hand!

Free Sensory Bin ABC/ Letter Game

See, sensory bins really aren’t that bad. Actually, there are so many benefits to using sensory bins in the classroom. And these sensory bin tips aren't just for the classroom... They can be beneficial for kids at home too. Homeschool teachers and parents can implement sensory bins with their children.

Want a free sensory bin game to try out? I have a Letter Sounds Sensory Bin Game that you can download for FREE right now. It includes letter sounds cards and an ABC game template in both color and black/ white. Grab it HERE now!

More Free Things!

If you like free stuff, head over to the freebie section of my TPT store where you'll find tons of goodies. Click here to see all my TPT FREEBIES.  And make sure to click below for that Free Letter Sounds Sensory Bin Activity if you didn't grab it above. If you have a favorite sensory bin filler or activity, share it with me in the comments below. Have an awesome day!


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~Christy from Exceptional Thinkers

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by Christy from Exceptional Thinkers

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