Sensory bins in Kindergarten are an amazing way to combine academic center activities and hands on play. But knowing where to start and how to use sensory bins effectively in Kindergarten can be overwhelming.
I’ll be the first to admit that I resisted using sensory bins in my kindergarten classroom for years. It wasn’t until two years ago that I began looking into sensory bin ideas that would actually work for my kindergarten students (and myself).
However, once I began using sensory bin activities as a part of our daily literacy centers time, I realized how much I was missing out on!
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through setting up your sensory bin in Kindergarten, sensory bin fillers that won’t stress you out, and activities that will keep your students learning.
Questions To Ask Before Setting Up Your Sensory Bins
Before you set up your sensory bins in kindergarten, there are a few questions you should as yourself. These questions will help you plan the best sensory bin center for your classroom management style.
- When will students be able to access the sensory bin?
- How many students can use it at one time?
- How many sensory bins do I want at one time – one? Multiple?
- What container or storage can I keep my sensory bins in?
- Realistically, how much of a mess can I handle without feeling stressed out?
- What activities will I have in my sensory bin?
- Do I want students to complete a specific task or do I want my sensory bin activities to be open-ended?
- How will students clean up any mess?
Setting Up Your Sensory Bin
When setting up your sensory bins in Kindergarten, you don’t necessarily need an expensive sensory bin table. Plastic tubs will work just fine!
If you just want one sensory bin, I highly recommend a plastic sweater tub from Walmart or Target. These hold a lot and you can easily close it with the lid.
In my classroom, I kept my sensory bin tub on an extra desk. The desk had an open front that I kept a basket with recording sheets inside.
I had an identical tub for my math sensory bin that stayed under the desk during literacy centers. When it was time for math centers, I just swapped them out!
If you want multiple sensory bins, a ten drawer cart is a great option. Just don’t put the side clips on so that students can slide the drawers all the way out.
You can alternate drawers with one drawer holding a sensory bin activity and the drawer below it holding recording sheets.
Sensory Bin Filler Ideas
When deciding what to fill your sensory bin with, I highly recommend really considering how much mess you can handle. Even with the most careful of students, some sensory bin fillers are just plain messy!
One of my favorite sensory bin filler ideas was dyed rice. You can add in any seasonal props that you want (I got these apples from the Target dollar spot).
Some other sensory bin filler ideas include:
- Feathers (great for a Turkey feather sensory bin)
- Cut up straws
- Cotton balls
- Pom poms
- Ribbon or fabric
Sensory Bin Activities for Kindergarten
Next, you’ll have to decide if you want task-based sensory bin activities or open ended exploration. Personally, I prefer having students complete specific center tasks with a recording sheet.
These activities don’t have to be complicated! They can be as simple as having students pull out a magnetic letter and tracing it on their recording sheet, or uncrumpling a paper word and coloring the match.
I created my monthly sensory bin activities for Kindergarten because I wanted to take the guesswork out.
Some back to school (August) sensory bin ideas include:
A chicka chicka boom boom sensory bin. For this bin, students will pull a coconut letter and trace the match on their recording sheet.
I love that this bin also brings in a STEM component. Students get to build a coconut tree using a toilet paper roll and green popsicle sticks. Then, they will see if it can hold all the magnetic letters in the bin.
A crayon colors sensory bin. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a crayon and either color the matching color object or the matching color word.
Bus beginning sounds. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a picture card and color the stop sign with the correct beginning letter.
A number trace sensory bin. For this sensory bin, students will pull a chalkboard number and then color the corresponding number or set of dots the correct color.
Penciling in 2D shapes. I love that this sensory bin can just be filled with the most random assortment of 2D shape manipulatives, buttons, etc. Students will pull a 2D shape card and the color the matching shape or object in their recording sheet.
Crayon count sensory bin. For this sensory bin activity, students will pull a crayon number and color the matching crayon box.
For an extension, you can have students count out either real crayons or crayon-shaped erasers to match the numbers on the crayon boxes.
Getting Started With Sensory Bins in Your Classroom
Hopefully now you’re feeling a little bit more confident about starting sensory bins in your kindergarten classroom! Sensory bins in kindergarten are an amazing way to increase student engagement, and they don’t have to be complicated.
If you’re wanted to make planning your sensory bins in kindergarten for the year even easier, I’ve already planned them all out for you.
My sensory bins for the year bundle will provide you with 6 sensory bin activities and ideas for implementing them each month.
You can feel good knowing that your students are getting engaging, effective sensory bin centers each month while you have more time for.. you!
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