Tag: sensory bin fillers

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…”
“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock…”
“I love those J-I-N-G-L-E bells, oh!”

Christmas is on its way, and our toddlers and preschoolers could not be more excited! But trying to keep their little hands away from the Christmas tree might be a full-time job, and that’s why I love bringing out engaging activities like playdough and sensory bins. This jingle bell sensory bin has been a big hit at our house, and it might be simpler than you might think.

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas | Christmas Sensory Play Ideas, Tactile Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Learning Through Play

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

As I mentioned in this post about sensory bin storage, we keep a big basket down in our basement with all of our sensory bin materials: dried corn, peas, and beans, uncooked popcorn, and various shades of rice and noodles. (You can click here for instant access to our favorite tutorials about dyeing rice and noodles.) 

I had dyed a bunch of noodles green for St. Patrick’s Day. The variety of textures between the wagon wheels, rotini noodles, and shells is a lot of fun for tactile play. I thought it would make the perfect base for this new jingle bell sensory bin. (And noodles are a LOT easier to clean up than rice, which was the base of our last sensory bin!)

Jingle Bell Sensory Bin + Activity Ideas | Christmas Sensory Play Ideas, Tactile Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers, Learning Through Play

We have a set of multicolored bells (similar) that are a great size for my 6-year-old’s hands. I also added a few extra accessories to the bin:

  • green and red cups (these are our favorite)
  • ice cube trays
  • a plastic tablespoon
  • and a jar (glass or plastic, whatever your kids can handle)

You can also work on patterning and fine motor skills with this sensory bin! Place the bells in the ice cube tray (use tweezers, if you like), and then lace the bells on a shoelace or pipe cleaner.


If you try this jingle bell sensory bin, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

30 Winter Activities | Free School Holiday Survival Guide {flourishwithyourfamily.com}

While your kids are home from school this winter, try out this list of 30 “boredom-busting” activities for the whole family!

Here’s what’s included:

  • a weekly calendar template with tips for creating a flexible family schedule
  • a “menu” of more than 20 low-prep activities to keep your children happily engaged
  • lists of recommended seasonal books to grab at the library
  • a family reading log
  • our favorite resources for learning at home
  • AND 30 winter boredom busters!
Must-Have Sensory Bin Accessories

Must-Have Sensory Bin Accessories

“Mom, look! I covered all these rocks in mud!”

My five-year-old daughter stood in front of me, clutching her sand bucket filled to the top with heavy landscaping rocks, all wrapped (as promised) in a layer of mud. She beamed at me–her clothes, shoes, gloves, and skin all encrusted from head to toe.

“I love snow days!” she hollered as she ran back to her mud pit.

Kate has been my sensory-seeking, tactile-loving child since the day I handed her a metal bowl, some uncooked pinto beans, and a measuring cup. I have hundreds of photos of her hands in mud, playdough, and the myriad of sensory bins I have prepared for her over the years.

The snow day/mud pit example is just one of many–digging in wet sand at the beach, methodically removing each dried kernel of corn from a cob, saving a handful of acorns in a tiny glass jar–that make up a huge part of who my daughter is. Does it sound familiar to you? Read on!

"Must-Have" Sensory Bin Accessories

If you have young children, you may have seen their natural love for sensory play!

At your house, sensory play might look like:

  • getting messy with food
  • splashing water in the bathtub
  • digging in the dirt outside

In this sensory play series, we cover:

  1. the benefits of sensory play
  2. must-have sensory materials
  3. sensory bin storage

The good news for parents is this: sensory play doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive! In fact, you can set up a simple sensory experience in three easy steps.

  1. Get a large container, a small bin, a wading pool, or a water table. Decide if you want to play inside or outside. (If you’re inside, put down a large sheet first to make clean-up a breeze!)
  2. Choose a filler. We reuse our food materials for many years, but there are a lot of non-food options as well.
  3. Add some accessories and let your children get to work!

We have slowly added to our sensory bin materials over the years. Here are a few of our recommended items! (Just a reminder, we use affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

  • IKEA has many wonderful materials: colorful bowls, metal cookware and utensils
  • You can recycle many tools from your kitchen: empty jars, funnels, measuring cups, ice cube trays, creamers, muffin tins
  • Dollar stores often have small containers with screw-top and flip-top lids
  • You can add in tools and toys, like these:

Be sure to follow our Sensory Play board on Pinterest!

Do you have a child who likes to get messy? Bring the fun inside with a simple sensory bin!

5 Benefits of Sensory Play

5 Benefits of Sensory Play

Do you have a little one who is drawn to sensory activities? My younger daughter can often be found digging in the dirt, wood chips, snow, sand–you name it! We also bring the sensory play inside with a variety of fillers and tools. Over the last few years, I have observed a variety of benefits for toddlers and preschoolers!

In this sensory play series, we cover:

  1. the benefits of sensory play
  2. must-have sensory materials
  3. sensory bin storage

5 Benefits of Sensory Play


  • Open-ended play encourages imagination. I’ve also been reading a lot about the power of symbolic play as a pre-literacy skill. Children who can “make believe” that an object is something else will have an easier time understanding that letters represent sounds down the road.
  • Sensory play builds independence. I’ve found that Kate takes ownership of her small world–she is the boss of the sensory bin, making all the decisions and taking risks. (I do sit close by to make sure she’s playing safely and keeping the materials contained to one area, but I’m not directing her or making suggestions.)
  • Using the sensory bin helps children with cooperative play. As you can imagine, both of our children want to dig into the sensory materials at the same time. This helps them both learn important social skills–my extravert has to respect her sister’s boundaries and my introvert is learning to share and speak kindly. If they can’t get along, they are asked to play in another area for a short period of time.
  • Young children LOVE to pour, scoop, and dump. It builds so many skills, including fine motor and hand-eye coordination, plus it sounds and feels so lovely!
  • Sensory play lengthens attention spans. Adding in a variety of “accessories” keeps children engaged for long periods of time and builds stamina in young preschoolers who are used to bouncing from activity to activity. When it’s time to clean up, children persevere because they want access to the sensory bin again.

Do you do sensory play with your children? What are your favorite materials?

5 Benefits of Sensory Play | child development, activities for kids, sensory experiences, toddler and preschool play

This post was originally published on my previous blog, lonestarsigners.com, on February 25, 2015.