Sensory bin – cold spaghetti

We had some spaghetti leftover from our dinner yesterday (I’m useless at judging how much to cook!) and so we used it in today’s sensory bin.  I also cooked some pasta shapes just to bulk it up a bit.

I used some food colouring and coloured the pasta shapes blue and the spaghetti green (it went a bit murky but Lottie didn’t mind!) and added a very small amount of vegetable oil to each bowl just to stop it sticking together too much.  I separated the two in the sensory bin with a line of uncooked mini pasta stars that have been knocking around the cupboard for ages – not that I was clearing out the cupboard or anything!

Messy play, sensory tub/bin, sensory play, learn through play, EYFS, early years, pasta, spaghetti, rice

Lovely, squidgy, messy fun!

Messy play, sensory tub/bin, sensory play, learn through play, EYFS, early years, pasta, spaghetti, rice

I gave Lottie a selection of kitchen utensils to play with but she wasn’t really interested in them, preferring to just get her hands in and get messy – that’s my girl!

She enjoyed mixing it all together and picking out the little star shapes.  She also enjoyed pulling the spaghetti pieces apart and making the longer pieces smaller – great chance to explore cause and effect!

While we played we discussed the temperature of the pasta (it had been in the fridge overnight so was pretty cold), the colours, the texture and the differences between the types of pastas used.  This was a simple and cheap sensory bin but one that provided lots of opportunities for rich language.

This was what the bin looked like when Lottie eventually lost interest in it…


Supplies and Suppliers:

Assorted pasta

Food colouring

Vegetable oil

EYFS links:

CL: communicating, listening

PD: sensory exploration

Maths: measures

UW: exploring the world



Sensory bin – searching for treasure

We recently went to an activity park for a day out with the Grandparents and while we were there Lottie had a go on a panning for gold game.  You basically sieved wet gravel and had to find ‘gold’ – needless to say we found absolutely nothing! But it did give me an idea.  Here is my own version – searching for treasure…

Sensory bin/tub, tuff tray, panning for jewels, treasure, pirates, early years, EYFS, learn through play

It’s basically our sensory tub filled with black rice (see this post for how to dye rice) and some plastic jewels half hidden amongst it.  Easy peasy, quick and simple!

Lottie loved just searching for the jewels randomly but after a while I encouraged her to sort them into different piles according to their colour (great chance for some colour vocab to come out!)


She then tipped them all back in and started again!

Sensory bin/tub, tuff tray, panning for jewels, treasure, pirates, early years, EYFS, learn through play

In hindsight I put way too many jewels in, it was far too easy to find them.  When we next do this tub I will put far fewer in and make it a bit more of a challenge.  I also want to find a sieve with large enough holes for the rice to pass through so Lottie can actually pan for the jewels.  It would also be great with bits of fool’s gold (iron pyrite) hidden in – I will definitely have to do this next time!

Supplies and Suppliers:

Rice – dyed black (see this post for a How to guide)

Plastic jewels –

EYFS links:

CL: communicating

PD: fine motor skills

Maths: shapes (colours)


Sensory bin – kinetic sand

Lottie loves this sensory bin and we get it out a lot.  It’s easy and quick to put together and so much fun.  You can make your own kinetic sand (and I will post up the recipe I use in a later post) but you can also buy it.  I bought the sand used for these pictures and it’s great, it holds its shape well but is a lovely texture to squish and squeeze too!

If you’re unsure what kinetic sand is, it’s mouldable sand.  It can be used to build shapes easily and never dries out.

We simply have the sensory bin with the sand in the bottom (I used 2 packs here (3lbs) and to be honest we could have done with another 2 but it was enough) and then a variety of beach toys, scoops, spoons etc.

Kinetic sand/sensory/messy play, early years, learn through play, EYFS, tuff tray

Silicone ice cube trays work really well with kinetic sand.  We bought some from Ikea very cheaply and they make flowers, fish and starfish shapes.

I absolutely love kinetic sand, not just because Lottie plays so well with it and gets so much from it, but because I love playing with it too! If you’ve not tried it yet, have a go, it’s a definite family favourite!

Supplies and Suppliers:

Kinetic sand – either homemade or bought (the stuff used in these pictures is from here:

Assorted spoons/scoops/jugs/pots etc

Beach sand toys

Silicone ice cube trays

 EYFS links:

PD: sensory exploration, fine motor skills, manipulation

UW: exploring the world



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 – sticks and leaves and nature bits

Today we had a nature themed set up. We’d been for a walk in the woods recently and while we were there we collected some leaves, fircones and sticks. I put them together to create a very easy but entertaining sensory bin.

Small world/sensory bin/tub nature themed, outdoors, peg people, crochet trees, wooden house, learn through play, early years

My daughter loves her little peg people (more detailed post about them to come!) and so we made nature homes for them. I found a lovely wooden hamster house in our local pet store and I’ve been desperate to use it in something. Turns out the peg people fit into it perfectly!

We just added the collected natural items and some leaves for the floor. Oh and some adorable little crochet trees (handmade by myself – link at the bottom!).

Small world/sensory bin/tub nature themed, outdoors, peg people, crochet trees, wooden house, learn through play, early years

This was really easy to set up but kept Lottie amused for ages. Especially when she discovered she could take the roof off the house and see the peg people inside!


We also had great fun using the sticks to push the fircones along the floor. We raced each other and Lottie loved it. It was great for developing her fine motor control (and a bit of competitiveness too!).

Supplies and Suppliers:

Assorted leaves, sticks, fircones etc

Peg people or dolls house people

Crochet trees:

Hamster house:

EYFS links:

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

UW: imaginative play, exploring the world, plants



Small world – easy farm setup

This is a relatively easy set up but one that we use time and time again.

Small world farm/animals play, learn through play, early years, small world

We used a fake grass mat (link in the suppliers list), a bit of blue felt cut into a pond shape and our farm and animals to make up this small world play. It’s very quick and easy to set up!

We also have two of these ‘pens’ set up for various animals to go in (don’t ask me why there’s a pig, sheep and brown bear in there together…that’s the mind of an almost 2 year old for you!).


They came from an idea I saw on Facebook a while ago (I don’t have the link so can’t credit the original source) and are made from plant pot holders from Tiger (link in the suppliers list) with a bit of fake grass cut to size in the bottom. I bought the grass from eBay, it’s a sample sized piece from a garden supplies shop. It only cost a few pounds and it worked out to be just the right size – more by luck than judgement there I have to say!


Anyway, hugely fun and easy to set up. We spent ages naming the animals, making the appropriate animal noises, role playing feeding them… and demolishing the roof of the barn (or course!).

Small world farm/animals play, learn through play, early years, small world

Supplies and Suppliers:

Scrap of blue felt

Toy animals (ours are Holztiger)

Farm buildings/toy farm

Grass mat –—70-x-100cm-375020

Tiger plant pot holder – there isn’t a product link on the website but this is the company

Scraps of fake grass

EYFS links:

CL: communicating, speaking

PD: sensory exploration

UW: imaginative play, animals


Sensory bin – dinosaurs/our own Jurassic Park

My LO is currently obsessed with dinosaurs. I think it probably stems from George in Peppa Pig (“dinosaur, roaaaaarrrrr”) so I decided to make her her very own Jurassic Park. She’d picked up some plastic dinosaurs in a gift shop a few weeks earlier and these dinos had been everywhere with us since (and I mean EVERYWHERE!)

Sensory bin/tub/tuff tray dinosaurs/Jurassic park, learn through play, sensory play, small world

I used a few pieces of bog wood bought from our local aquarium supplies shop, some fircones we collected, black coloured rice, plastic jewels, some little handmade volcanoes and her four beloved plastic dinosaurs.

Lottie enjoyed the feel of the rice, she let it run through her fingers for ages. She also loved the noise it made as she sprinkled it back into the tray from high up.


She then discovered she could pour the rice from one ‘volcano’ to the next. You can just about see from the photo that the volcanoes were made from egg carton bits, turned upside down and dribbled with red, yellow & orange paint to look like lava. Oh and I also drew some black rocks on with a sharpie – gotta love the detail!


Much fun was had by all with this one… and there were lots of shouts of “dinosaur, roaaaarrrrrr” as she played!

Supplies and Suppliers:

Dinosaur toys

Bogwood/sticks/wooden bits and pieces

Fircones/leaves etc

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

Plastic jewels –

Egg cartons – cut up and painted

EYFS links:

CL: communicating

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

Maths: space, measures

UW: imaginative play, exploring the world, animals