Making sensory bins is one of my favorite ways to celebrate holidays. I love how the simple addition of certain colors and materials can evoke so much excitement and imagination in my kids. For this fun festive bin I teamed up a few different sensory bases with some Christmas loose parts, and our favorite Learning Resources fine motor tools. The play was magical!

Materials needed:

The Set Up

To make the sensory bin you need to prep the chickpeas a little in advance. This is really easy to do- just add a handful of chickpeas to a baggie as well as a squirt of the Crayola glitter paint. Seal the baggie and squish it all together so that the paint covers the chickpeas. Then spread the chickpeas out on some foil to dry for an hour or so. Repeat the process with both the red and green glitter paint, and once dry add them to the white rice in the bin. The final stage of setting up is to add the festive loose parts to the sensory base, as well as the Learning Resources fine motor tools.

How the Activity Works

Sensory bins are always so exciting for little ones to explore. If you are nervous that things might get a little messy with your child, you can always set the activity up on a large mat on the floor to make the clean up easier or even place a large tray under the sensory bin. As long as it isn’t too cold we often enjoy our sensory play outside to minimize worrying about making a mess. Once you are ready, simply invite your little one to explore the contents of the bin. It is really beneficial to not direct the play, but instead to simply enjoy watching and following the lead of your child. Let them explore all of the materials in a way that makes sense to them. This really helps to build their independence and confidence.

My 3-year-old could not wait to jingle the bells and find all of the little stars. This was great for her fine motor skills. She used the Squeezy Tweezers to scoop up the items she was interested in looking at in more detail. She quickly realized that there were cups in the bin and that meant she was happily creating cups of soup and Christmas cocoa for the next half hour!

She separated the various Christmas loose parts and then used them to flavor each cup. There was a star flavor, tree flavor, strawberry flavor, and even a ‘jingle jingle jingle’ flavor! Whilst making these cups of soup and cocoa my daughter was building her sensory confidence and developing her fine motor skills using the tools provided. She particularly liked using the Jumbo Tweezers for the larger items.

Another way that my daughter liked to play with this sensory bin was to play a game of hide and seek. We took it in turns to bury the Christmas loose parts and then we would choose one to make the other person look for. This was great for encouraging vocabulary development and conversational skills. She was so incredibly excited each time she found the items I had hidden!

The great thing with sensory bins is that they can be played with over and over again. You can simply add new material to the bin and it will completely reinvigorate the play. You could even add a cash register or order notepad to turn the sensory play into some fun role play! What’s your favorite way to play with sensory bins?