Check out some of our favorite sensory bins that are easy to clean and change out to avoid spreading germs!
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An integral part of our in-person playgroups at our non-profit, The Treehouse, is the sensory bin. Each week, we create a unique sensory play experience that welcomes kids into the space at the start of their playgroup. This sensory bin provides an opportunity for socialization, peer cooperation, self-regulation, conflict resolution and the obvious fine and sensory motor skill building.
Typically, we stock a large plastic container with the usual sensory bin fillers (rice and beans are favorites). Then, we add in props that make sense for the theme of the week. For instance, if the theme is Spiders, we might fill the container with black beans and add in plastic spiders, tiny erasers, and maybe some tongs and tweezers to “capture” them. We always have some cups for pouring and transferring to maximize bilateral coordination practice and ice cube trays are also a common element for kids to fill or categorize their findings.
Sensory Bin Changes
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has required us to think outside the box about our sensory bins. This type of hands-on play activity is problematic, considering the potential for many little hands to touch the materials throughout a day.
How will we keep this important aspect of our playgroups and still ensure the safety of our kids and staff by reducing germs being spread between groups? Don’t worry. We’re on it!
Easy to Sanitize Sensory Bins
Here are some of our best ideas for sensory bin fillers that will help you as you head back into your clinic or the schools this fall. All of us will have to be extra cautious for the foreseeable future.
This list contains items that are either quickly sanitized between sessions or items that can be thrown away between sessions and replaced very easily and cost effectively.
Quickly sanitized items:
Beads (add different shapes and sizes)
Puzzle Pieces and Puzzle Boards
Plastic Toys/Animals/Bugs/Action Figures
Letter or number magnets/manipulatives
Cooking utensils and water
Nuts, bolts, and washers (add string to see if kids can thread the hardware on to make bracelets)
*Many of these options can be combined with water to add even more novelty and interest! Check out this post for one idea!
Items that can easily be replaced between sessions:
Shredded Paper or Easter basket grass
Leaves (provide paper and glue so kids can create their own leaf masterpieces)
Sticks (add rubber bands and/or yarn to see what kids can create)
Flowers (add scissors and glue so kids can cut up petals to create colorful mosaics)
Acorns and pinecones
*Always be mindful of the child that will be using the sensory bin and don’t use items that may be easily swallowed or choked on if the child is still mouthing items or is an oral sensory seeker.
*Always have kids wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after playing in any sensory bin!
*Be sure to discard or disinfect any sensory bin item that a child places in his mouth or near his face.