A DIY Sensory Bin For Toddlers

 In Kids Activities

Here’s what you do – and it’s super easy – raid the dollar stores and the charity shops for goodies and start to collect a “sensory bin” filled with items. Be careful though, if you’re like me, it won’t be long before you’ve got an entire storage room full of treasures (although some might say junk).

Here's how to make this DIY Sensory Bin for toddlers – Nanny2u activities for kids

Once you’ve built your collection, you can pick ‘n’ mix your sensory play equipment to suit themes or trends that your nanny kids are interested in at the time.

How To Make A DIY Sensory Bin For Toddlers (on the cheap)

For our DIY sensory bin, I noticed that my toddler seemed to be really loving his safari animals and mini figurines – so I figured why not build on that. I went to the dollar store and bought a large tub and a couple bags of pebble stones, and filled the tub with them.

Then I added the safari animals and a bag of corn kernels (like the popping corn kind, my little guy loved it)! I also saved a couple baked beans from the kitchen to use as mini animal shelters, and cut mini bridges out of small cereal boxes.

You don’t need to spend anything to create this diy sensory bin for toddlers, just scrounge and raid the toy box for easy kids activity ideas!

It was simple and so easy to do. Although technically we should have been using sand (or dirt) for the safari theme. But with it getting cooler outside we’re spending more and more time inside, and sand is not something you want in the house if you can help it!


Obviously, just be really careful when choosing your sensory box fillers with the little ones. The pebbles and corn kernels presented a high choking risk, so you need to be absolutely confident that your toddler is not going to put it in their mouth!

You also need to be super vigilant and constantly supervise. When we have our #nannylife morning tea play date with another little toddler, the sensory box gets put away up high and out of sight. If your toddler is still in the “let’s put everything in the mouth” stage, it would be best to be extremely selective with the items in your sensory box.

“My little toddler loved playing with the sensory box so much that after a while we had to relocate it from the bottom of the toy shelf because – being the toddler-hulk that he was – he kept pulling it out and dropping the pebbles everywhere.”

Here's how to make this easy diy sensory bin for toddlers – kids activities with Nanny2u

Mostly he loved to run his fingers through the pebbles and corn, or catapult the hippopotamus into the tub from toddler height so that with a crash the pebbles would go everywhere. But to me, that was a successful activity that he would enjoy doing for anywhere between 10 – 30 minutes. And as far as toddlers go, I’m calling that a win!

You could of course take things further – language elements through saying the names and sounds of the items you’re playing with for example. For us, there was a whole lot of “Lion roaring” going on (mimicking the early morning sounds of the zoo animals we often hear coming from Taronga Zoo at dawn).

You could also use it as a way to count objects, practice sharing and social skills, and of course – the art of packing away and tidying up. I’m always impressed with how enthusiastically Mr2 will contribute to the packing away. Certainly more helpful than his cheeky older sisters at times!


By the way: yes, the words “sensory bin” generally suggests some kind of mess and clean up involved. But don’t let that stop you from getting started. Just be clever about how you can minimise the disaster zone. Control the space and the spread of mess, be wise with your choice of equipment and whether it’s an indoors or outdoors activity, put down a protective mat if you need to, and get the children involved in the clean up. Plus, choose your moments – the time of day is an important factor. If you’re not going to have time to pack it away, don’t pull it out.


Sensory activities have many benefits for children of all ages, it’s the perfect way to introduce language development, confidence, social skills, and concentration. But perhaps most importantly, it’s a safe way to allow for open-ended play – crucial in those developmental toddler years. Our creative DIY sensory bin for toddlers makes learning and development activities fun and easy to achieve. Here’s some more info about the point of sensory bins.

Check out our easy no-cook playdough recipe for more great winter activities with kids.

Here's how we get fun with the kids – an easy and cheap diy sensory bin for toddlers with Nanny2u

How To Make This DIY Sensory Bin For Toddlers

– Pebbles
– Corn kernels
– Extra equipment e.g. small boxes, + tins
– 1 large tub (it also serves as the storage tub). Tip: get something square that you can stack and store away making use of space!
– Toys and playthings e.g. figurines, animals, toy cars, and marbles

Put them all together and let the kids go wild on safari!

Choking hazards – use common sense. 100% supervision is required at all times. This nanny goes into “helicopter mom” mode when the sensory bin comes out.

>>> Have you ever made a sensory bin for your kids? What are some of your favourite items?

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