Sensory bins have grown in popularity as a fun way for kids to discover and explore their senses. Parents love that sensory bins are fun for all ages - you can start using them as soon as your baby can sit in a high chair!
But sensory bins aren’t just fantastic boredom busters. They also have well-researched developmental benefits and provide an opportunity to socialize, which makes them great for playdates. Although they can be done anywhere, we love them as indoor activities when it’s too cold to play outside.
Developmental Benefits of Sensory Bins
1. Fine motor skills
Sensory bins are a great way for kids to strengthen their fine motor skills by using tools such as scoops or tongs to pick up small objects in the bin. Younger children strengthen their pincer grasp by picking up and sorting objects. A good sensory bin will give them a chance to pour, scoop, stir, and sort items to their heart’s content!
2. Cognitive development
Kids use their critical thinking skills as they problem-solve in order to sort items in the bin. For example, they decide how to sort items (by color, shape, size or type), then decide where and how to organize them. They will also explore the contents of the bin and decide which tools to use to find hidden objects. It’s quite satisfying!
3. Social and emotional development
One of the most under-appreciated benefits of sensory bins is how great they are for teaching kids to play and interact with one another. These bins will allow them to practice taking turns, working as a team, and communicating with each other. Because of that, it’s also an excellent opportunity to accelerate speech development. Parents can be really effective models here - narrate what you are doing in the bin and encourage them to try out words that relate to the activity.
4. Sensory development
If set up well, sensory bins can activate all five senses: touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight! They are an exciting way to introduce new textures and smells that your kids may otherwise not be exposed to. In fact, researchers have found that sensory play can create comfort with a variety of textures, which can reduce picky eating! So when you’re building a bin, look for items that engage all five senses.
5. Calm downtime
Sensory bins are such a great way to help kids learn to manage and process big emotions. Bins fully engage all senses giving children an outlet to focus their energy, by playing independently and allowing their hands, mind and heart to work together and soothe. When a child is really in their element with a bin, the experience can get quite meditative. As you learn to build them, you will gain a sense for which activities and materials most effectively calm your child.
Can you see why we’re such believers in sensory bins? The developmental benefits are unmatched by any one toy or activity. The one-on-one time and memories you’ll make are priceless. If you’ve never built one before for your kiddo, we promise it's much easier than you think to get started.