Brrrr! It’s cold outside where we live. That makes it the perfect time to try these winter sensory bin ideas that provide kids the opportunity to taste, touch, hear, smell and feel all this chilly season has to offer.
Sensory bins are always a hit with young children. They encourage children to use their senses to explore and learn about the world around them. It is also a great way to keep your kids occupied and entertained while you get some work accomplished.
These bins are simple and affordable! Take a trip to your yard or to the dollar store for most of the materials for these bins. Don’t forget to include your children in helping you find materials and prepare the bins.
1) Build a Snowman Sensory Bin
- Polyester Batting or White Felt
- Round Styrofoam balls
- Strips of felt (for scarves)
- Thin Popsicle sticks
- Dowel rods
- Googly Eyes
There is nothing more fun in the winter than building a snowman! Kids love building snowmen out of Styrofoam balls in this highly engaging sensory bin.
Cut enough polyester batting or felt to fit the bottom of the sensory bin. The batting represents the snow on the ground outside in the winter. Purchase different sized white Styrofoam balls at your local craft store. Place them in the bin with materials kids can stick on the balls to build snowmen.
If young children are using this bin, you will need to fasten the head (smaller ball) to the body (larger ball) of the snowmen ahead of time. Fasten the two balls together by poking a dowel rod down the center of both balls. Cut off the excess rod so it is not sticking out as a poking hazard.
Older children should be able to fasten the balls together themselves.
2) “It’s for the Birds” Sensory Bin
- Kernels of corn
- Toy birds (Optional)
Talk about simple! You can whip this sensory bin together in five minutes. It’s the perfect one to use when you need a quick activity to occupy your children. Don’t forget to set it up in an area that will easily contain the mess since birdseed and corn kernels love to escape the container they are in.
3) Winter Nature Bin
- Real snow (if possible)
- Pine cones
- Pine needles
- Anything else you can find outside in the winter
Variation: Buy scented pine cones to use in the bin so your kids can also experience winter with their nose.
Look no further than the great outdoors for the materials for this fun bin. My kids loved hunting for pine cones and pine needles near our pine trees.
If you are lucky enough to have real snow to gather outside, your kids might be able to build a snowman in this bin.
This bin doesn’t necessarily need a filler, but if you would like some “snow” read on for some filler ideas to represent the white fluffy stuff.
4) “Let It Snow” Bin
- Any white material to represent snow such as:
- White Pom Poms
- Cotton Balls
- Packing Peanuts
- Uncooked White Rice
- Plastic letters
Variation: Hide plastic numbers or other objects instead of letters
Hide plastic letters in the bin for your kids to find and identify. This is a great way to practice recognizing letters and sounds.
If you use magnetic letters, place a cookie sheet nearby so your older kids can practice putting letters in alphabetic order. For younger children, write the letters on a piece of paper and have your kids match the letters they find in the bin to the letters on the paper. For older children, hide sight words or math facts for them to practice.
5) Ice Sensory Bin
- Small toys or other small, safe objects
- Age appropriate tools to chip away at ice
Fill a small to medium-sized container with water. Put objects in the water and stick the container in the freezer until the water is frozen solid. Run hot water over the bottom of the container long enough to loosen the block of ice. Transfer the ice block to a bigger container. Provide your kids with gloves and appropriate tools for chipping away at the ice.
This activity is also a fun activity to do in the summer. Read more about it in this summer activities post.
Chill Out with these Sensory Bin Ideas
Hopefully, you found some winter sensory bin ideas that you can try while the season of cold and snow is here. Feel free to adapt them in any way you would like! The more creative you and your kids are, the more fun you will have.
Sensory bins can get quite messy. Read my post with tips on using sensory bins with kids for ideas on how to contain the mess.
Remember to provide your kids with lots of tools to scoop and pour with. Funnels, measuring cups, spoons, bowls and ladles are always good choices.
I am always looking for more sensory bin ideas, so share any other winter sensory bin ideas in the comments below.
Snuggle up, stay warm and enjoy your senses this winter!