I love having a sensory bin in my classroom (did you know that I'm a Montessori Toddler teacher?) but I avoid using food as a filler. I think it's very important to send the message that food is for eating not for playing with. Especially, when there are many children who don't always have enough to eat. In my time as a teacher, I've compiled a BIG list of sensory bin fillers and ideas that don't include food. I'm sharing my favorites here today so that you can incorporate them into your home or classroom too!
1. Pom Poms: Pom poms are awesome! They come in all different sizes and colors so you can easily mix it up depending on the season. White pom poms make great "snow" for an arctic animal bin. I'll even add pom poms of different colors for a fun color sorting bin.
2. Soapy Water: Yup, water. I know it can get messy but washing just about anything is such a great lesson! A hard plastic baby doll and a wash cloth makes a great bin and so do play kitchen dishes and utensils.
3. Party Necklaces: You know the kind with the shiny beads that you can get in bulk at dollar stores? Check to make sure they are knotted between beads (every set I've ever seen are) and then cut the strands into different lengths. These are perfect for filling different sized cups and containers with!
4. Easter Basket Grass: This stuff is perfect for hide and seek style sensory bins! My favorite way to put a new spin on an old puzzle (the chunky wooden kind) is to mix the pieces into a bin with Easter basket grass and have the children find the pieces and put the puzzle together. It's so much fun!
5. Potting Soil: Now, this one is messy, really messy but so worth it! Little flower pots and fake flowers make a fun gardening bin or plastic pigs and a little water for mud baths are both great ways to use it.
6. Aquarium Rocks: Aquarium rocks come in all different sizes and colors which makes them a great way to add variety to your bins. They can be loud when poured and mixed around so just make sure you are ready for some noise! I really love to use these with small toy dump trucks and tractors.
Do you have a sensory bin at home? I'd love to hear your favorite activities!