Keeping Sensory Play Simple

Hi, my name is Kaitlyn and I’m obsessed with sensory bins. There. I said it. If you’ve been following my Instagram account lately, you’ve probably noticed this recent obsession. I’ve always thought they were such a fun way to practice sensory and fine motor skills, and now that LG is old enough to be interested I just can’t get enough of them!

Although I think LG would do best with a giant sensory bin that she could make a mess in, we just don’t have the space for that currently in our RV. I’ve had to get creative with making simple bins that are still engaging for her. So today I’d like to share with you my strategy for creating a month of meaningful, fun sensory bins in our tiny space!

Filler Materials

The first thing I do when planning each month’s bins is think about what seasonal, inexpensive filler materials I already have or can easily get my hands on. My goal is to have at least 4 fillers each month. We have several favorite staples (black beans, colorful pom-poms/pouch lids) and then search for other relevant materials. For example, in January we’ll be adding “snowballs” (cotton balls) and blue tinsel/shredded paper. Then comes my favorite part! I LOVE roaming through Hobby Lobby and the Target “Dollar Spot” to find little manipulatives that will be fun to scoop or pick out of the filler materials!

Filler Storage

To keep preparations simple, I like to have 2 prepared sensory bins each week that LG can play with when she chooses. Then I store the rest. Because we are limited on our storage space in our RV, I keep the fillers we aren’t using in gallon sized baggies and stored in our “hall” closet with the rest of LG’s crafts and “school” materials. Here I keep extra sensory bin fillers on a shelf, her matching activities on another shelf, and her manipulatives in a separate drawer. This makes putting together bins a breeze!

While I only use 4 fillers for the entire month, I do rotate the activities so that I can make the most of my small amount of fillers. Each week LG has one bin with a matching practice activity and one bin with manipulatives to scoop and play with. To give you a good idea of how I plan this out, here are our ideas for January’s sensory bins!

Week 1/Bin 1: cotton balls/January matching practice #1

Week 1/Bin 2: blue tinsel/icicles

Week 2/Bin 1: black beans/January matching practice #2

Week 2/Bin 2: pom-poms and lids/Snowman craft

Week 3/Bin 1: blue tinsel/January matching practice #3

Week 3/Bin 2: cotton balls/snowman erasers

Week 4/Bin 1: pom-poms and lids/January puzzle #1

Week 4/Bin 2: black beans/Snowflake craft

Now, I know what you might be thinking and you’re probably right – this looks a little crazy for planning activities for a 2 year old. Planning like crazy is just what I do. The lesson planning teacher still lives in me and I can’t get rid of her. Ha! So, I embrace it because just like when I was teaching, planning large chunks of time makes my life so much easier. And I hope my crazy planning makes your life just a little bit easier, too!



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