DIY Cooking Sensory Bin

We recently bought two extra totes to make sensory bins.  We bought a large one to make a sensory bin for two, and a smaller one, similar in size to one we already had, so that Luke and Lilah could each have their own “personalized” one.  By that, I mean that the theme of their own bin would be made to their interests, but of course, they could share their personal bins and still play together if they wanted to.

For Lilah’s personalized bin, I added dry pinto beans as the filler.  For more filler ideas, see this post.  I had purchased a large bag of dried pinto beans through a coop with good intentions of cooking them from scratch, but honestly, the beans are getting much more use this way!

The idea for the theme of this bin came from the observation that Lilah has recently shown an increased interest in the play kitchen and in helping me cook, so I thought a cooking bin would be really fun for her.  She loves making yummy treats for all of us to “eat” and loves to fix “food” for her dolls, too.  

To her sensory bin I added things from the kids’ play kitchen and from the real kitchen as well: plates, cups, tea pot, spoons and various other utensils, measuring cups, pots, pans, measuring cups, and bowls.

For this particular bin, I do allow the kids to take the beans out of the bin as long as they are kept in a container and stay on the fleece blanket that we lay out under the bin.  This way L&L can set up elaborate picnics with their creations, but the beans stay off my floor!!!  


This is probably L&L’s favorite bin so far!  Luke loves it as much as Lilah!

I love it, too, because it’s a great bin for fine motor skills practice.  It encourages the children to pour, scoop, spoon, balance, and so on.  🙂



My rule for sensory bins is that I always ask that any spills get cleaned up immediately.  If I have to ask again, I set a timer.  If I end up having to pick the beans up myself, the bin gets put away for the rest of the day.  I seldom have any issues though because L&L have learned to be careful for the most part.  (One reason I am adamant about clean up of spills is because we had a rice sensory bin where some rice got on the floor.  It wasn’t cleaned up immediately and L&L started riding their Radio Flyers around and where they ran over the rice, it dented the hardwood floors.  Not cool.)

Spills will happen!  Just make sure your kids know what you expect as far as clean-up goes.

 Here are links to our other sensory bin posts in case you missed them:

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!