How To Use Sensory Bins in Kindergarten - Natalie Lynn Kindergarten (2024)

How To Use Sensory Bins in Kindergarten - Natalie Lynn Kindergarten (1)

Sensory bins in Kindergarten are an amazing way to combine academic center activities and hands on play. But knowing where to start and how to use sensory bins effectively in Kindergarten can be overwhelming.

I’ll be the first to admit that I resisted using sensory bins in my kindergarten classroom for years. It wasn’t until two years ago that I began looking into sensory bin ideas that would actually work for my kindergarten students (and myself).

However, once I began using sensory bin activities as a part of our daily literacy centers time, I realized how much I was missing out on!

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through setting up your sensory bin in Kindergarten, sensory bin fillers that won’t stress you out, and activities that will keep your students learning.

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Questions To Ask Before Setting Up Your Sensory Bins

Before you set up your sensory bins in kindergarten, there are a few questions you should as yourself. These questions will help you plan the best sensory bin center for your classroom management style.

  • When will students be able to access the sensory bin?
  • How many students can use it at one time?
  • How many sensory bins do I want at one time – one? Multiple?
  • What container or storage can I keep my sensory bins in?
  • Realistically, how much of a mess can I handle without feeling stressed out?
  • What activities will I have in my sensory bin?
  • Do I want students to complete a specific task or do I want my sensory bin activities to be open-ended?
  • How will students clean up any mess?

Setting Up Your Sensory Bin

When setting up your sensory bins in Kindergarten, you don’t necessarily need an expensive sensory bin table. Plastic tubs will work just fine!

If you just want one sensory bin, I highly recommend a plastic sweater tub from Walmart or Target. These hold a lot and you can easily close it with the lid.

In my classroom, I kept my sensory bin tub on an extra desk. The desk had an open front that I kept a basket with recording sheets inside.

I had an identical tub for my math sensory bin that stayed under the desk during literacy centers. When it was time for math centers, I just swapped them out!

If you want multiple sensory bins, a ten drawer cart is a great option. Just don’t put the side clips on so that students can slide the drawers all the way out.

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You can alternate drawers with one drawer holding a sensory bin activity and the drawer below it holding recording sheets.

Sensory Bin Filler Ideas

When deciding what to fill your sensory bin with, I highly recommend really considering how much mess you can handle. Even with the most careful of students, some sensory bin fillers are just plain messy!

One of my favorite sensory bin filler ideas was dyed rice. You can add in any seasonal props that you want (I got these apples from the Target dollar spot).

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Some other sensory bin filler ideas include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Feathers (great for a Turkey feather sensory bin)
  • Cut up straws
  • Cotton balls
  • Pom poms
  • Manipulatives
  • Ribbon or fabric
  • Tinsel
  • Sand
  • Gravel

Sensory Bin Activities for Kindergarten

Next, you’ll have to decide if you want task-based sensory bin activities or open ended exploration. Personally, I prefer having students complete specific center tasks with a recording sheet.

These activities don’t have to be complicated! They can be as simple as having students pull out a magnetic letter and tracing it on their recording sheet, or uncrumpling a paper word and coloring the match.

I created my monthly sensory bin activities for Kindergarten because I wanted to take the guesswork out.

Some back to school (August) sensory bin ideas include:

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A chicka chicka boom boom sensory bin. For this bin, students will pull a coconut letter and trace the match on their recording sheet.

I love that this bin also brings in a STEM component. Students get to build a coconut tree using a toilet paper roll and green popsicle sticks. Then, they will see if it can hold all the magnetic letters in the bin.

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A crayon colors sensory bin. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a crayon and either color the matching color object or the matching color word.

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Bus beginning sounds. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a picture card and color the stop sign with the correct beginning letter.

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A number trace sensory bin. For this sensory bin, students will pull a chalkboard number and then color the corresponding number or set of dots the correct color.

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Penciling in 2D shapes. I love that this sensory bin can just be filled with the most random assortment of 2D shape manipulatives, buttons, etc. Students will pull a 2D shape card and the color the matching shape or object in their recording sheet.

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Crayon count sensory bin. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a crayon number and color the matching crayon box.

For an extension, you can have students count out either real crayons or crayon-shaped erasers to match the numbers on the crayon boxes.

Getting Started With Sensory Bins in Your Classroom

Hopefully now you’re feeling a little bit more confident about starting sensory bins in your kindergarten classroom! Sensory bins in kindergarten are an amazing way to increase student engagement, and they don’t have to be complicated.

If you’re wanted to make planning your sensory bins in kindergarten for the year even easier, I’ve already planned them all out for you.

My sensory bins for the year bundle will provide you with 6 sensory bin activities and ideas for implementing them each month.

You can feel good knowing that your students are getting engaging, effective sensory bin centers each month while you have more time for.. you!

Grab the sensory bins for the year here.

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How To Use Sensory Bins in Kindergarten - Natalie Lynn Kindergarten (2024)


How do you make a sensory bin for kindergarten? ›

What You'll Do
  1. Lay out a sheet, tablecloth or towel. Not only does this protect the floor, but it makes cleanup much easier.
  2. Fill the bin or bowl with dry pasta, rice or beans.
  3. Add spoons, scoops, toys and whatever else you have on hand into the bin.
  4. Play!

What are the learning outcomes of the sensory bin? ›

Sensory bins promote language development.

Toddlers and preschoolers can learn about basic concepts such as full/empty, up/down, above/below, or same/different while they are pouring, sorting, and moving the objects in the sensory bin.

What are sensory bins in kindergarten? ›

A sensory bin is a shallow container that combines filler material and various small odds and ends. You fill the bin with a filler material such as sand or rice, then add items from around the house such as spoons or measuring cups. Let your child explore the items and have fun playing.

How do sensory bins work? ›

Essentially, a sensory bin is a container filled with materials specifically chosen to stimulate the senses, allowing the child to explore and interact with the items as they choose. Sensory play is a great way to expose your child to a variety of textures, facilitate communication, and actively engage with your child.

Are sensory bins good for kindergarten? ›

Sensory bins can support cognitive development as children sort hidden items by size or color. Putting number and letter shapes into the sensory bin can provide children the opportunity to learn the alphabet, their numbers and gain practice with counting and spelling.

Are sensory bins good for 5 year olds? ›

Sensory bins can boost your child's motor skills. Additionally, adding toy tools such as shovels, spoons, and tweezers can help develop coordination as well. Actions like scooping, digging, and pouring toys and materials will all help improve motor skills. Sensory bins can be a great tool to help your child learn!

Why is sensory play important for kindergarten? ›

Sensory play is a lot of fun. It also offers many benefits for child development, including: Helping children understand how their actions affect what's around them. Supporting brain development, enhancing memory, complex tasks and problem solving.

What are the outcomes of sensory activity? ›

Other reasons sensory play is beneficial for children include:
  • It helps to build nerve connections in the brain.
  • It encourages the development of motor skills.
  • It supports language development.
  • It encourages 'scientific thinking' and problem solving.
  • It can involve mindful activities which are beneficial for all children.
Mar 12, 2018

How do you use a sensory box in the classroom? ›

Choose a base such as rice, and then add pom poms and feathers for different textures. You could also throw in some classroom manipulatives, small toys, etc. Even better is with liquid watercolor or acrylic paint, you can change the color of many sensory bin fillers, making them easy to reuse.

How do you organize sensory bin items? ›

Here are some tips and tricks that I have learned to make managing the materials a bit easier.
  1. Keep the base materials separate from the goodies. ...
  2. Use zip top bags to store your themed materials. ...
  3. Keep an extra bin for shovels, tweezers, cups, and tubes.
Mar 27, 2017

When can kids use sensory bins? ›

Toy safety is the top priority for our company and our products are tested and meet all U.S. Safety Standards and those required by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The recommended age for our sensory bins is for children ages 3+.

How do you color rice for a sensory bin? ›

Add 1 cup of uncooked rice to a small plastic baggie and add a few drops of food coloring to the bag. If using gel coloring, you'll only need a tiny bit. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to the bag, seal the top, and shake up the bag to mix the color around the rice.

How to make a sensory box for school? ›

Sensory Box Ideas
  1. Dig out an old cardboard box (a shoe box works well) and line it with colourful tissue paper.
  2. Gather a selection of toys or items from around the house that will appeal to your littlen's senses - particularly sight, sound and touch (ideas below)
  3. Pop them in the box for a sensory play surprise!
Jul 18, 2023

How do you create a sensory space in a classroom? ›

Below are seven tips for designing, devel- oping, and successfully opening an effective sensory room in your school:
  1. Assign, label, and promote the space. ...
  2. Use calming colors and lighting. ...
  3. Use carpet or mats to cover floors/walls. ...
  4. Add sensory/therapy room posters. ...
  5. Make sensory equipment available. ...
  6. Start slowly.

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