Sensory bin – just rice – unintentionally!

For this sensory bin my initial plan was to have a deconstructed aquarium consisting of the blue rice in the tub and all the other aquarium themed bits just around the side. My vision was that Lottie could choose what bits she wanted to use and then make her own aquarium.

Sensory bin/tub, sensory play, rice, aquarium, measures, early years, learn through play, EYFS

This failed spectacularly! She totally ignored all the aquarium items and just immediately started playing with the rice on its own. I grabbed a few spoons, measuring cups etc and that’s all she wanted to use!


She spent ages tipping rice from one container to the next and this gave us a lot of opportunities to explore measures and use mathematical language: Were the cups empty or full? Which spoon was the smallest/largest? What happened when we tipped a larger cup into a smaller cup? etc etc.


She then decided to fill up some of the larger scoops using only a spoon to pick up the rice. This was entirely her idea and it held her interest for a long period of time. It was a fantastic activity to develop her fine motor control and to help develop her wrist and finger muscles – all good preparation for when she (in good time – she’s not 2 yet!) learns to hold a pencil correctly.

Although this sensory bin didn’t start out as I intended it to at all, Lottie had a great time and I’m sure got far more out of it by using her own imagination to develop her play.

Supplies and Suppliers:

Rice – coloured blue and white (see this post for a How to guide)

Assorted spoons/scoops/jugs/pots etc

 EYFS links:

PD: sensory exploration, fine motor skills, co-ordination, control, manipulation

Maths: measures




Sensory bin – under the sea

I absolutely love tuff trays but we live in a flat and sadly we just don’t have the room for one.  I managed to find a decent sized plastic lid in a garden centre (I think it’s the lid for a seed irrigation tray but I may be wrong!) and so we use that as our tuff tray/sensory bin.

This week’s efforts have been sea themed.  We are very lucky to live near the sea and we visit it a lot.  I wanted to bring a little bit into our living room so I made this:

Sensory bin/tuff tray/sensory tub of an aquarium, fishes, under the sea. Messy play, sensory play, learn through play, early years.

I used blue and white rice as the base (see next blog post for how to colour rice using paint), some bits of bog wood bought from our local aquarium supplies shop, some wooden and plastic fish and sea creatures, two plastic aquarium plants and some plastic ‘jewels’ (see end of post for list of suppliers).

Lottie loved it! She spent a long time running the rice through her fingers and feeling the different textures.

Sensory bin/tuff tray/sensory tub of an aquarium, fishes, under the sea. Messy play, sensory play, learn through play, early years.


Fantastic messy fun! We explored a lot of the different textures and colours together and she started to role play the fishes swimming about.  I also encouraged her to pick up the jewels and collect them in a pot to help develop her fine motor control.

Supplies and Suppliers:

Rice – coloured blue (see this post for a How to guide)

Bog wood/sticks/wood pieces

Plastic fish (ours are just bath toys)

Wooden penguin –

Wooden crab –

Plastic jewels –

Plastic plants

EYFS links:

CL: communicating

PD: sensory exploration, fine motor skills

EAD: imaginative play

UW: imaginative play, exploring the world, plants, animals