Sensory play has many benefits. Babies and small children use their senses to explore and learn about the world around them. The more we can engage their senses of smell, sight, hearing, touch, and taste as well as body awareness and balance, the more they learn and the better they grow. Goodstart Early Learning Senior Occupational Therapist Sally Fitzgerald says that providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development as it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills. (Source)
Sensory bins are a wonderful way to allow children to explore their senses while containing the mess! I’ve rounded up some great spring-themed sensory bins you can put together for your baby or toddler. To get started, you’ll need a large plastic container. Some of the most common sensory bin items include play sand, rice, water beads, beans, and items from nature including flowers, sticks, and acorns.
1. Buggy and Buddy has a spring-themed sensory bin featuring green split peas! This is the first time I’ve seen this used in a sensory bin, but it looks like a great tactile experience. She also includes colorful straws, flower sequins, and small clay pots. This is a great bin for imaginative play as well as sensory play.
2. The Rainbow Playhouse kicks it up a notch with this gardening box! I absolutely love this idea as it combines sensory play with fine motor skills practice and gardening! I think I’ll make this one up for my older kids. Anyway, you’ll need to fill your plastic container with compost or soil, seed packets, child-sized gardening tools, gloves (optional) and a watering can. What a great way to learn about the life cycle of a plant as well!
3. Mama Miss shows us a simple but fun bin filled with pastel colored rice, plastic eggs, flowers, and shovels. Rice bins were always a hit when my kids were little. Here’s how to dye rice with Kool-Aid. Anytime you give a kid a big container of rice and a few scoopers, they’re guaranteed to be entertained for a while.
4. Teaching Mama has put together this sensational bin with black beans, dry pasta, and plastic creatures from the dollar store. She even included a counting bugs sheet which you can print from her website. Genius!
5. Love Play Learn made my favorite Easter-themed bin (and I looked at several)! I love that she used both rice and Easter grass (or shredded paper). Throw in some plastic eggs and a few Easter items from your local dollar store and voila! So much fun!