Inside: Looking for a quick and easy sensory bin for toddlers? Your tot will love this water play sensory activity. Just a few simple materials, and you’ve got the perfect sensory play activity to cool down those hot summer afternoons.
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Big thanks to Lindsey from Every Day Above Dirt for sharing this guest post! Lindsey has such an encouraging spirit. She loves to give real hope for real moms, just like you! She shares her stories so that other women walking a similar path don’t feel so alone. Today she’s sharing how to set up a summer sensory bin for your toddler. It’s perfect for laughing, learning, and connecting with your child when the weather warms up!
Summer is such an exciting time of year!
Kids are out of school, schedules are more lax and you have so much time.
Wait, you have so. much. time!!
Instead of being intimidated by the vortex of hours to be filled, go forth with confidence knowing you can use it for fun activities that will help you and your children bond.
Summer is the perfect season to utilize all that unfilled time.
One of the easiest and fun ways to do that is with sensory bins.
In this case, summer sensory bins!!
Sensory bins for toddlers are one of my favorite ways to entertain and educate my toddler.
They can be so versatile and offer so many learning opportunities!
Sensory play is very important for your child’s learning. They may just look like a hot mess in a bin from a distance. But, if you really pay attention you’ll see so much more happening!
Sensory play encourages things like tactile learning and utilizing all their senses to learn about the world around them.
They’re discovering how the water beads sound when you dump them out of the bucket or how the rice feels when they run it between their hands.
Through sensory bins toddlers can learn life skills like pouring, scooping and transferring.
It helps them figure out what size shovel to use for different size containers. Or when they should use tongs instead of a shovel.
My favorite thing sensory play offers is independent and imaginary play!
Two amazing skills for your child to possess. If all their toys have batteries it limits the amount of imagination they can use. But, with sensory bins the world (or their bin) is their oyster.
They can literally make it become their own little adventure. Oh, and added bonus, the independent part may just allow you to enjoy a cup of hot (key word) coffee!
If these benefits haven’t sold you on this summer sensory bin for toddlers, then let me explain it a little more in depth… You’ll see how much fun you and your toddler will have!
- 7 Science-Backed Reasons Why We Love Outdoor Play
- 10 Summer Outdoor Play Toys Under $20 to Get Your Kids Outside
- 10 Crazy Fun Water Play Ideas for Kids + Free Printable
Three Easy Steps to an Awesome Summer Sensory Bin for Toddlers
It’s super simple to create a sensory bin. The most work you’ll do is getting the materials you need and assembling the bin, which never takes long.
Then the best part… Introducing the sensory magic to your toddler and watching their eyes literally light up!
Step 1: Get Materials for Sensory Bin & Assemble
There are a ton of different sensory bins you can do. This particular one has a few ingredients of materials you’ll be able to use again and again. And some you may have in your home already!
- Water Beads
- Toy Fish
- Water Table or Plastic Bin
- Tongs (these or I just use kitchen tongs)
- Dish Soap or Bubble Bath
Once you have all your materials you are ready to start assembly!
The water beads will need to soak in water for eight hours. The easiest thing to do is prepare them the night before.
Then the next day you can add the water beads to one section of your water table (or one plastic bin).
In the next section of the water table (or plastic bin) put dish soap and spray water so it suds up. Bubbles are always a win for toddlers!
After you have done that sprinkle in the fish and get their tools ready; shovel, tongs and bucket.
Step 2: Introduce Summer Sensory Bin to Your Toddler
When I first introduce a sensory bin I like to give some goals to the play. Just to get their creative juices flowing.
For this summer sensory bin I started with these play prompts:
- See if you can use your tongs to pick up the fish.
- Try to transfer some water beads to the bubbles.
- What sound does it make if you throw a water bead into the water?
- Should you use the shovel or tongs to put water beads in the bucket?
Then soon after you offer up some ideas your toddler will take off with their imagination.
Step 3: Allow Free Time for Your Toddler
This is the best part and when their imagination and independent play really takes off!
They will be itching to explore with all their senses. Doing things like…
Seeing what will happen if they put the beads in the bubbles.
Or watching the fish sink as they put them in the water.
My son’s favorite part was discovering that he could smash the water beads between his fingers and don’t worry, they’re nontoxic.
Three Genius Ways to Extend Learning with your Sensory Bin
When they are almost done with their exploration I like to add in a little extension activity. Challenge them to take their learning one step further.
Here are some great extension activities for this sensory bin for toddlers:
- Ask them to sort the fish they collected by color. I used a muffin tin for easy sorting purposes.
- See if they can tell you what happens when they put the fish in the water beads vs. the bubble water.
- Count the fish with them to see how many they collected.
Want some more summer activities for kids? Check out Lindsey’s comprehensive list of Cheap & Easy Summer Fun you can do with your toddler inside, outside, or on an outing. Instead of hearing your children echoing, “mom, I’m bored,” make this summer one full of fun memories!
I love Lindsey’s advice about allowing time for independent play and challenging your toddler with extension activities. This water play sensory bin looks like so much fun!
Have you tried sensory bins with your toddler yet?
Have a favorite sensory bin your child can get enough of?
We’d love to connect with you. Share your sensory bin ideas with us in the comments below!