Sunday, November 10, 2013

Autumn Sensory Bin Activity

I've seen these sensory bin ideas floating around Pinterest, and I remember my younger brothers having a bin like this when they were little, but I kept putting off letting my kids play with one. It was a combination of not wanting a gigantic mess (more than what I already deal with) and being worried about finding beans up their noses, but I finally went for it.

And they loved it! And *I* loved it! Who would have thought that a big bin of dried beans and random kitchen implements would prove to be so much fun?

With quadruplets, I kind of have to plan ahead for this type of project, so here is how I set up for it:
  • I bought two large bins for the beans. That way, two kids could play in each, and we could keep issues down to a minimum.
  • Then I went to the Dollar Store and looked for some fun seasonal items to add to the bins. I wanted Autumn themed bins, but didn't want to spend a ton. The Dollar Store was perfect!
  • I also picked up some kitchen implements from the Dollar Store. I needed duplicates of some of the items, and didn't want to look through all of my drawers and cabinets every time we pulled the bins out. So the kids now have their own kitchen items that are just for their bins.
  • And then for good measure, I swung through the Dollar Spot at the Target down the road. I found some more fun and cheap items that will work for other bin themes as well.
  • The beans came from our local Aldis. Basically, I just bought the cheapest dried pinto beans that I could find. I'm pretty sure that I ended up putting about 14 pounds of beans in each box. For a singleton, you can probably get away with quite a bit less. :)
  • And finally, I waited until a friend could come over and help me watch for beans going up the nose. The first time doing an activity is always iffy. We also had their cousin over that day, so our ratio was two adults to five 2-year-olds.
The kids were happily entertained for over half an hour which is phenomenal for two-year-olds! I also love that this is a non-consumable activity, meaning that my initial investment can be used over and over again. That's something this mama likes!

(Side note: It was Tutu Skirt Day at our house when we did this activity, hence the reason why the girls are all dressed up in these photos!)

Caleb and Elijah were the most interesting kids to watch during this activity. My normally rambunctious boys were completely enamored with the different items in the bins. When I put the bins together, I made sure that there were different textures and shapes: bumpy gourds, straw scarecrow, plastic cup, paper box, etc. There is so much learning that can happen when kids get a chance to freely explore an activity!
While the boys were investigating my autumn themed choices, Ellie, Abby, and Cousin Aly spent their time scooping, dumping, pouring, and filling. I saw each of them using the measuring spoons, funnels, scoopers, pails, and containers. Ellie was very specific about keeping the beans contained while Abby was more interested in watching them pour through her fingers. Cousin Aly was all over the place!

Honestly, I thought that this would be a much bigger mess than what it ended up being. I laid out a sheet for the kids to play on, and it made the clean up super easy. (Way easier than THIS sensory activity!) It was so easy that I think this will make an excellent activity through the winter months when snow covers the ground.

Caleb thought this was fascinating to look at his fingers through orange plastic. I didn't pick the cup up with that in mind, so he discovered that his fingers look different on his own. I'd say that this activity was a success in promoting exploration and discovery!

I'm also very happy to report that no beans were snorted in the process of doing this activity! :)


  1. I see some beans straying off the mat! We only do these things outdoors but it is warmer in California. I don't want to be vacuuming beans up 3 months later.

  2. and I find that if you just bring it out occasionally that it keeps it appeal. We have a rice bin that I use for my triplets and it can get messy but at 3 1/2 they know if they get it off the sheet it gets put away! My kids absolutely love it when I get the rice out and ask for it frequently

  3. Oh that looks super super fun! I used to have a bin like that for Brady full of beads :)

  4. This looks so fun! I think I'll try this with my little one. He's reaching the age where he needs more guided/educational play. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. This is awesome! Looks like the kids had a blast with it! :)

  6. They look like they are having a fun time! 2 bins are a definite plus sometimes!

    Pinning it!

  7. This is great sensory bin for autumn. Thank you for sharing and for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop.

  8. I love that the sensory bin isn't limited to the bin. That is a great idea to have a sheet on the floor for them to play on. They look like they had a great time. Thank you for sharing on Artsy Play Wednesday.

  9. Fantastic sensory bin - I too love how it expands out of thee bin and the clean up.

    Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots and just popping by to let you know that I will be featuring this over on Rainy Day Mum this week.

  10. The kids is enjoying the activity so much.


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