Sensory. Bins.

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What is a sensory bin? 

Sensory bins are a fun way to explore the senses and incorporate tactile exploration. They are typically a large bin filled with different types of wet or dry materials that vary in texture. In the bins with the wet or dry materials you can hide some preferred items or toys. The child can explore through the sensory bin to find all of the hidden items or toys. The ideas of sensory bins can be endless!

What are the benefits?

The benefits of using a sensory bin is to help explore and challenge the tactile sensory system. Using tactile play can be calming and more regulating which can help with attention to tasks. As well as, helping desensitize the tactile system. It can also help build nerve connections in the brain which can help with development of fine motor skills. Sensory bins don’t ONLY target the tactile system, it also will target other sensory systems like: sight, smell, sound, & taste (in some cases). It can also address problem solving, scooping & pouring, visual motor skills, and fine motor skills. 

Sensory bin ideas:

  • Dried beans
  • Dried rice
  • Dried pasta
  • Orbee’s (water beads) 
  • Water (can add soap for bubbles)
  • Shredded paper
  • Dried oats
  • Shaving cream
  • Kinetic sand
  • Packing peanuts
  • Aquarium rocks
  • Pom-Poms
  • Insta-Snow
  • Feathers
  • Buttons
  • Birdseed

What if my child doesn’t want to touch the sensory bin? 

  • It is good to start slow and never force them to touch it. You can start with using a tool to interact with it and then work up to using a finger tip. Once they are comfortable with their finger tip you can work up the hand until you have one or both hands in the bins!

Look for signs of overstimulation (too much sensory information coming into the body):

  • Closing eyes
  • Turning away from the bin
  • Screaming/crying 
  • Gagging 
  • Holding arms back, away from the bin
  • Wiping off hands or needing to wash hands immediately
  • Splaying fingers

Published by

caitlinoakey

Occupational therapist with a passion for helping children & families.

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