The benefits of sensory play for kids are aplenty. However, many parents and educators are opposed to using food for sensory play. That's why I havealready compiled a thorough list of 50 non-food sensory bin fillers to try with kids, but I simply couldn't stop there. There's even more options to consider! So here are 50 MORE non-food sensory bin fillers for kids. Again,I've included a free printable list for your reference. So from sponges to pool noodles to lotion, this list of sensory materials is going to have you reconsidering using food for sensory play. Or at least it will have you thinking outside the (sensory) box.
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50 Non-Food Sensory Bin Fillers for Kids
1. Cut up sponges or shaped sponges
Sponges are a great sensory bin filler because they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Either cut them up into little blocks or shapes or try shaped sponges like these alphabet sponges.
2. Baby powder
Soft and fluffy, baby powder would make a great, although messy, sensory bin filler.
Fabric based sensory bins are great for babies or small toddlers, so try using lace instead.
These are fun to stretch, pull, twist, throw, and more. You can usually find them in the dollar store.
5. Wood chips
Wood chips are an interesting hard, rough texture for little hands to explore. They work great for any kind of forest, farm, or construction type sensory bin.
6. Tree bark
Another great rough texture for kids to play and explore with. Bark is lovely paired with moss in a sensory bin.
7. Broken crayons
Who doesn't have lots of broken crayons kicking around the house? Well, try them as a sensory bin filler.
Ideas to try:Monster Mash Small World
8. Silly string
I remember silly string being so much fun as kid so I think it would be a lot of fun as a sensory bin filler.
Slime would make a great sensory bin filler for any kind of oozy swamp or sewer like sensory bin. Ninja Turtles small world with slime is the first thing that comes to my mind!
10. Bubble wrap
Kids loooooove bubble wrap. Okay, adults love popping the stuff too, so why not try it as a sensory bin filler. It's a great way to recycle and work on fine motor skills.
One of my favorite sensory bin fillers to use is acrylic vase fillers. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures and there is always seasonal themed fillers in Michaels and dollar stores during holiday seasons.
Ideas to try:Apple Sensory Soup|Pirate Sensory Soup|Fall Leaves Soup
The easiest way to encourage literacy through sensory play is to create a sensory bin using plastic alphabet magnets or beads as the base.
13. Milk jug lids
Recycle those lids and add them to your sensory stash! Try writing sight words or letters or math equations on the lids to sneak in some extra learning.
14. Cut up pipe cleaners
The fuzzy texture of pipe cleaners is great for a sensory bin filler, but kids will also love exploring the magnetic properties of the pipe cleaners as they play.
Ideas to try:Pipe Cleaner Magnetic Water Bin
Another great natural material to use in sensory bins is pinecones. They have such an interesting texture!
16. Gift bows
You can easily whip up a sparkly, crinkly sensory bin using gift bows. They work great for Christmas or birthday themed sensory bin fillers.
17. Water balloons
Squishy and cool, water balloons are a fun sensory bin filler for kids. You can also write sight words, math equations, letters, etc. on the balloons to sneaky in some extra learning.
You can find all sorts of foam shapes, letters, or numbers. They also come in a variety of sizes, colors, and textures, making them an awesome sensory bin filler. Add some water for some extra fun!
Ideas to try: Bugs by the Number Sensory Bin|ABC Sensory Bin
19. Bingo chips
Try bingo chips in a sensory bin! They can be a lot of fun for kids to try and scoop up, especially in water.
20. Makeup sponges
You can usually buy a bag of makeup sponges at the dollar store, making them a pretty frugal sensory bin filler.
21. Costume jewelry
Raid your dress up bin for some costume jewelry and try it as a sensory bin filler.
Natural materials always make a great sensory bin filler because they're usually plentiful and are always free. Moss would be wonderful for a rainforest sensory bin or a fairy small world, for example.
The smooth, creamy texture of lotion, paired with a scent and/or color, can make for a lovely, but messy, sensory bin filler.
I love the smell of sawdust! It also feels like no other texture.
Ideas to try:Sawdust Sensory Bin
25. Mini erasers
You can find all sorts of mini erasers, especially at the dollar store. Grab some seasonal ones to make quick and easy holiday themed sensory bins.
Stock up on some dollar store toothpaste and let the kids explore the texture. Kids will love to help squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube and into the sensory bin.
Ideas to try:Dental Health Month Sensory Bin
28. Silly putty
Silly putty is a lot of fun to play with and kids will love it as part of a sensory bin.
29. Paper clips
Paper clips are a great sensory bin filler for exploring magnetic properties and working on fine motor skills (by linking the clips together).
A perfect first sensory bin filler for babies would be those plastic baby links. They come in a variety of colors and textures.
31. Cut up pool noodles
Try cutting up some pool noodles and filling a sensory bin with them. Sneak in some literacy learning by writing some sight words or letters on the pool noodles.
32. Plastic leis
33. Puzzle pieces
Perhaps you have some old puzzles that are missing some pieces? Well, upcycle them into a sensory bin filler.
Confetti is another fun sensory bin item. It is one that I could foresee my children throwing everywhere though, so be prepared!
35. Pot scrubbers
Look no further than your kitchen for an easy sensory bin filler. Those pot scrubbers have such a unique texture!
Ideas to try:Halloween Monster Sensory Bin
36. Balls of tin foil
Crumble up some tin foil and fill up a sensory bin with them. Or wrap up some objects in tin foil and let the kids work on fine motor skills as they unwrap the little "presents."
The smooth, cool texture of round marbles is appealing to a lot of kids. The kids will love seeing them roll around in a sensory bin.
38. Cut up cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls
I hoard cardboard tubes like crazy. I never ever do anything with them it seems, but they would be awesome in a sensory bin!
Ideas to try:Cardboard Tube Sensory Bin
39. Sequins or large glitter
Want a little sparkle? A little glam? Some glitz? Try sequins or large glitter as a sensory bin filler.
40. Plastic eggs
Plastic eggs are not just for Easter (at least in my mind). Fill up a plastic bin with them and let the kids have fun opening and closing them.
42. Styrofoam balls
Styrofoam balls come in a variety of sizes and would make a great filler for winter themed sensory bins.
Fill a bin with glow in the dark stars, turn off the lights, and let the kids' eyes lead the way.
Put those dandelions to good use! Fill up a bin and let the kids play.
45. Chalk dust
Grate up some chalk and let the kids get messy (and dusty!) with chalk dust.
Ideas to try:Chalk Dust & Feather Writing
46. Googly eyes
My kids love googly eyes so I'm positive they would love a googly eyes sensory bin. Grab a variety of sizes and colors for some extra silliness.
47. Clean mud
Whip up a bath of clean mud for your next sensory bin!
Floam is crazy fun because of those little foam balls. What will you pair with floam?
Try using reusable plastic ice cubes, either chilled or unchilled, for your next sensory bin filler. Kids will love stacking and sorting them. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, like thesefruit ones.
50. Pouch cap lids
We have never used any of those pouch cap products, but I know a lot of families do. And, as a result, I know they have collected a lot of lids over time. Put them to good use in a sensory bin!
Ideas to try:Pouch Caps Sensory Bin
Download the Free Printable List
To get a copy of the printable list, click the link below:
Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
As an expert in sensory play for kids, I can provide you with valuable information on the benefits of sensory play and various non-food sensory bin fillers. I have extensive knowledge and experience in this area, and I'm here to help you explore the world of sensory play.
Benefits of Sensory Play for Kids
Sensory play offers numerous benefits for children's development. It engages their senses, promotes cognitive and physical development, and enhances their creativity and problem-solving skills. By providing opportunities for sensory exploration, children can develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sensory integration abilities. Sensory play also encourages language development, social interaction, and emotional regulation.
Non-Food Sensory Bin Fillers
This article discusses 50 non-food sensory bin fillers for kids. Here are some key concepts related to the fillers mentioned:
- Sponges: Sponges come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, making them a versatile sensory bin filler. They can be cut into blocks or shapes, or you can use shaped sponges like alphabet sponges.
- Baby powder: Soft and fluffy, baby powder can be a messy but enjoyable sensory bin filler.
- Lace: Lace can be used as a fabric-based sensory bin filler, particularly suitable for babies or small toddlers.
- Flex mesh tube ribbon or crinoline rope: These materials are fun to stretch, pull, twist, and throw. They can be found in dollar stores.
- Wood chips: Wood chips provide an interesting hard and rough texture for sensory exploration. They work well for forest, farm, or construction-themed sensory bins.
- Tree bark: Tree bark offers a rough texture for kids to play and explore with. It pairs well with moss in a sensory bin.
- Broken crayons: Broken crayons can be repurposed as a sensory bin filler, providing a colorful and creative experience.
- Silly string: Silly string can be a fun and engaging sensory bin filler, offering a unique tactile experience.
- Slime: Slime is a popular sensory bin filler, especially for oozy swamp or sewer-themed sensory play. It encourages imaginative play and sensory exploration.
- Bubble wrap: Bubble wrap is loved by both kids and adults. It can be used as a sensory bin filler to provide a satisfying popping experience and develop fine motor skills.
- Acrylic vase fillers: Acrylic vase fillers come in various shapes, sizes, and textures. They are often available in seasonal themes and can be used for sensory play.
- Plastic alphabet magnets or alphabet beads: These materials are ideal for sensory play that promotes literacy. They can be used to create sensory bins focused on letters and words.
- Milk jug lids: Milk jug lids can be repurposed as a sensory bin filler. They can be written on to incorporate learning activities.
- Cut up pipe cleaners: Pipe cleaners offer a fuzzy texture and can be used for sensory exploration. They also have magnetic properties that can be explored during play.
- Pinecones: Pinecones provide an interesting natural texture for sensory play. They can be used in various themed sensory bins.
- Gift bows: Gift bows can be used to create a sparkly and crinkly sensory bin, perfect for Christmas or birthday-themed play.
- Water balloons: Water balloons offer a squishy and cool sensory experience. They can be used for sensory play and learning activities.
- Foam shapes, letters, or numbers: Foam shapes, letters, or numbers come in different sizes, colors, and textures, making them versatile sensory bin fillers. They can be used for learning activities as well.
- Bingo chips: Bingo chips can be a fun sensory bin filler, particularly for activities involving scooping and sorting.
- Makeup sponges: Makeup sponges are an affordable sensory bin filler option that provides a unique texture.
- Costume jewelry: Costume jewelry can be repurposed as a sensory bin filler, offering a variety of textures and colors.
- Moss: Moss is a natural material that can be used in sensory bins, particularly for rainforest or fairy-themed play.
- Lotion: Lotion provides a smooth and creamy texture for sensory play. It can be scented or colored for added sensory stimulation.
- Sawdust: Sawdust offers a unique texture and smell, making it an interesting sensory bin filler.
- Mini erasers: Mini erasers come in various shapes and can be used for sensory play and learning activities.
- Toothpaste: Toothpaste can be used as a sensory bin filler, allowing children to explore its texture and engage in squeezing activities.
- Clay: Clay, whether colorful modeling clay or natural clay, can be used for sensory play that promotes fine motor skills and creativity.
- Silly putty: Silly putty is a fun and stretchy sensory bin filler that provides tactile stimulation.
- Paper clips: Paper clips can be used for sensory play that explores magnetic properties and fine motor skills.
- Plastic baby links: Plastic baby links are suitable for babies and provide a variety of colors and textures for sensory exploration.
- Cut up pool noodles: Pool noodles can be cut up and used as a sensory bin filler. They can also be written on for learning activities.
- Plastic leis: Plastic leis, whether flower or ruffled, can be used for sensory play, particularly for rainbow or beach-themed bins.
- Puzzle pieces: Old puzzles with missing pieces can be upcycled as a sensory bin filler, offering a tactile and visual experience.
- Confetti: Confetti adds a fun and colorful element to sensory play, but be prepared for potential messiness.
- Pot scrubbers: Pot scrubbers provide a unique texture and can be easily found in the kitchen for sensory play.
- Balls of tin foil: Tin foil can be crumbled up and used as a sensory bin filler. It can also be wrapped around objects for fine motor skill development.
- Marbles: Marbles offer a smooth and cool texture for sensory play. They can be used in various themed sensory bins.
- Cut up cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls: Cardboard tubes or toilet paper rolls can be cut up and used as a sensory bin filler, providing a versatile and cost-effective option.
- Sequins or large glitter: Sequins or large glitter can add sparkle and glam to sensory play, creating visually stimulating experiences.
- Plastic eggs: Plastic eggs can be used as a sensory bin filler, providing opportunities for opening and closing activities.
- Paint: Liquid paint or paint powder can be used as a sensory bin filler, allowing children to explore colors and engage in artistic activities.
- Styrofoam balls: Styrofoam balls come in various sizes and can be used for winter-themed sensory play.
- Glow in the dark stars: Glow in the dark stars can create a magical sensory experience when placed in a darkened room.
- Dandelions: Dandelions can be used as a natural sensory bin filler, providing a sensory experience with a touch of nature.
- Chalk dust: Grated chalk can be used as a sensory bin filler, allowing children to explore its texture and engage in writing activities.
- Googly eyes: Googly eyes can be used for sensory play, adding a touch of silliness and creativity to the experience.
- Clean mud: Clean mud, made from various materials, can be used as a sensory bin filler, providing a unique tactile experience.
- Floam or playfoam: Floam, with its foam balls, offers a fun and tactile sensory experience.
- Plastic ice cubes: Reusable plastic ice cubes can be used as a sensory bin filler, providing opportunities for stacking and sorting activities.
- Pouch cap lids: Pouch cap lids can be repurposed as a sensory bin filler, offering a variety of colors and textures.
I hope this information helps you explore the world of sensory play and provides you with a wide range of non-food sensory bin fillers to try with kids. Enjoy the journey of sensory exploration and creativity!
Note: The information provided above is based on this article and my expertise in sensory play.