Updated: May 5
Sensory bins are always a hit during preschool speech therapy and even with school aged students. They can be used to target articulation, phonology, following directions, describing, spatial concepts and more. Themed Sensory Bins can be daunting to think about creating - but they don’t have to be complicated or expensive.
I have laid out exactly how to create 32 Themed Mini Sensory Bins for less than 30 dollars - less than one dollar for each bin (you can see the list of themes I made if you scroll down).
Why mini bins? They’re smaller, easier to transport, cheaper to make, and just as fun. I was reluctant to use these but my students LOVE them. There’s something about a box of little treasures that kids go crazy for!
You can use these photo boxes to store your Sensory Bins for a super easy grab-and-go set up, but if you want to save some money, store the fillers in ziplock bags in a tote and use a single small clear container for your sensory bin. Simply replace the filer, as needed
You will want to go to a Dollar Store near or discount store near you and buy the following items (I paid $1.00 for each item). You very likely have a lot of these items laying around!
LIST OF SENSORY BIN FILLERS:
Bag of colourful pipecleaners
2 bags of colorful pom poms (bonus if they are different sizes and textures)
A roll of blue and red ribbon
A box of coloured straws
3 bags of coloured stones/rocks (usually found in the pet section as fish bowl filler) - blue, white and green.
2 Bags of Colourful Craft Gems
2 Bags of Colourful Beads - different sizes and shapes are ideal
1 Bag of colourful buttons
1 Bag of Pebbles
1 Bag of Sticks (you can find them outside, too)
THEME SPECIFIC ITEMS:
1 Bag of Googly Eyes - for Monsters and Halloween
1 Bag Black Beans - for a Space theme and Halloween theme
Bag of Cotton Balls - for Winter theme
Fish Gravel - for Mermaids, Ocean, and Beach Theme
Bag of Cotton Balls - for Winter theme and Arctic Themes
Shredded Green Paper - for Spring
SENSORY BIN TOOLS:
Toilet Paper Rolls
What you’re going to do is:
Label your bins by theme (I have labels in my Themed Sensory Bins for Speech Therapy).
Sort all the items you purchased by COLOR. In my opinion, colors make a theme!
Cut the Ribbon and Straws into small pieces.
Start placing the coloured items into the appropriate themed bin. Try to choose a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures.
Ocean - Use the colors green and blue. Place green and blue rocks, buttons, pom poms, ribbon, straws, and craft gems in the container.
Winter. Use the colors blue and white. Place the blue and white pom poms, gems, and balls in the container.
Valentine's Day: Use red, pink, and white. Place a handful of each color in the container.
Birthday: Make it super colourful! A little bit of everything in this one!
Use the ‘special’ items above (Black Beans for Space + Halloween, Googly eyes for Halloween/Monsters, Cotton Balls for Winter and Arctic Theme, and Fish Gravel for Ocean, Beach, and Mermaids, and Shredded Green Paper for Spring), as you wish.
Remember - play around with it and have fun! You don’t need to put ALL the items in EVERY bin. Sometimes an item won’t suit the theme and that’s okay!
My students love sorting items in the sensory bin, touching them, talking about them, and playing with them! I was running into the problem of not having manipulatives for them to act with, so I decided to create the Themed Sensory Bins for Speech Therapy. I went a little overboard and included pieces and covers for 35+ themes - you can use them all or create the ones that you want to use!
I made two Photo boxes filled with themes AND I have them prepped and stored as a full size sensory bins too. (I like to have options!).
Once they’re prepped, all you need to do is grab and go. They’re perfect for on the go therapists. You will have your affordable fillers ready and your play props to suit your theme! You can use these little bins with all your students - for longer periods of times. I used the dinosaur bin in my session for 50 minutes last week! We sorted all the items, talked about the people and items we found and then created about 9 different play scenarios with our pieces! Grab yours here!
Tip: Grab a themed book to accompany your bin - and you have your entire themed session planned!
If you’re a little bit *extra* like me, and want to add a little ‘more’ to your bins, I have an entire list of 'extras' you can add to your themed bins in my Themed Sensory Bins for Speech Therapy!
There are also visuals and scenes that you can use to accompany your Sensory Bin Play! Let me know if you add these to your therapy room!
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