The holidays are officially here and the stores are crawling with Christmas goodies. My son is almost four, and this year he is very excited for all the festivities to come! His excitement is fueling my excitement, so I am planning as many holiday activities as I can for the month of December. Sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the season and use throughout the month. Kids love playing in them and they are such a fun way to welcome the holidays.

Hands holding on Christmas bulbs

Usually, sensory bins appeal to sight and touch. For this bin, I searched for items that could appeal to the sense of sound and smell as well. These scented pinecones were perfect!

Hands holding acorns

To put together a Christmas bin, you don’t have to spend a ton of money. I got everything for our bin at the Dollar Tree. Once we have thoroughly played with the bin for the month, I’ll be able to reuse the items for some fun Christmas crafts or a holiday sensory bottle. Here’s what I grabbed at the Dollar Tree for this bin.

DIY materials

Holiday Sensory Bin Items:

  • Dry beans
  • Glitter vase filler foam balls
  • Mini ornaments (that you can write on)
  • Mini bows
  • Bells
  • Pom poms
  • Penguin and snowman figurines
  • Scented pine cones

Items I had on-hand:

  • Recycled egg carton
  • Measuring cups/scoopers
  • Tongs
  • Black sharpie

Printables used:

Here’s a look at the bin with all the goodies!

Top view of the sensory bin

When I put together our sensory bins, I try to throw as many academic elements as I can. Since my son is in preschool, I decided to incorporate letters/sounds and numbers. Normally, he doesn’t even realize we are “working” because he is having too much fun playing! The gold ornaments proved to be the best item to write on, so I wrote lowercase letters and numbers 0-10 on those using a black marker.

Gold Christmas bulbs

For most of our sensory fun, we just played with the bin and I would pull out an ornament and say the letter/sound or the number shown and count using my fingers.

Gold Christmas bulb with letter M

For more structured work times, I made printable recording sheets and used dabber markers to mark the ornaments we as we pulled them. I did both numbers and letters so he had to distinguish between the two.

Holiday Letter Hunt sheet with Christmas bulbs

My son knows all of his lowercase letters, but he still struggles a bit with identifying capital letters. I used a printable recording sheet and we matched lowercase to capital. For a more hands-on approach, you could have kids match the letter to an item/picture with that beginning sound.

Tong holding green Christmas ribbon

For a number challenge, I used a printable recording sheet with ten frames and we matched the number to the quality shown. We also counted out bells and pom poms in the egg carton. I cut the carton down to ten to make it similar to a ten frame, and my son used the tongs to grab the items for a fine motor challenge.

Sensory bin with materials

There are so many different skills that can be incorporated into sensory bins, and kids simply adore them! It’s easy to keep kids engaged when the task appeals to more than one of their senses.

Child's hands playing with sensory bin

This Christmas sensory bin is just what my son needs to keep all his newly learned preschool skills fresh in his mind over the holiday break. I hope your little ones enjoy it as well!

Materials used in the sensory bin close-up

Happy holidays!

Save it for later!