Safe Sensory Bin Play and Education


There are many educational play options for parents of young children to choose from when it comes to teaching them about their senses. Most children learn a great deal from experiential types of learning but what are some practical ways that a parent can provide these experiences. Sensory bins are a wonderful way to introduce your child to various textures because they provide an abundance of tactile stimulation while encouraging creative play. A sensory bin is a box, bin, or container that you fill with some texture (dry oatmeal for example). Adding toys or other objects to your box adds an element of fun to the experience that most children love. Today, we will be discussing safe sensory bin play and learning activities that can be done using them.

How to play in the bin

The short answer here is that there are no set rules for how to play in the bins so long as you keep safety in mind at all times. You can allow your little one to explore on their own with no set direction from you and see where their imagination takes them. Alternatively, you can play a sort of “hide and seek” to help teach spatial concepts by hiding toys within the container at different depths and positions. You can provide your children with instructions about the location of specific toys and then give them the opportunity to retrieve the toy from its place within the bin. Another educational variation on the “hide and seek” theme is to hide large wooden or magnetic letters in the box and have them find the letters to spell out their name or other words that you may be teaching them. Finally, don’t forget to allow your child to put their feet into the bins because this provides an entirely different set of sensations. However, you should be aware that tactile sensitivity of the feet is much higher than that of the hands, so it is wise to introduce foot play gradually. This is especially true if your kid is averse to textures or tactile defensive.

Safety and other considerations

While the idea behind sensory bins is to provide a fun and hands-on environment for your child to explore tactile stimulation, several other things must be considered before beginning sensory bin play. Consider whether or not the texture you are filling the container with may be a choking hazard for your child. If there is a potential risk of choking from the filler material, it is advisable not to allow your little one to play with that bin unattended. If you have plans to reuse the bin or bins later, make sure that there is no shelf life to the fill materials in each box. Perishable items should be replaced before they expired and replenished as needed to protect the safety of your children. While engaging in sensory bin play, it is critical that you never force a child’s hand into the container or its contents. This is especially important for children that experience discomfort from tactile stimulation created by various textures. While the use of sensory bins is an excellent activity for these tactile defensive kids, it is important to encourage them through example rather than force. When engaging in play with wet textured items, keeping a towel nearby can make clean up much easier and could even prevent a meltdown for a tactile defensive child.Looking for more information on sensory bins or ideas for fill materials? Check out the links below.