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Incorporating Sensory Bins into Therapeutic Play with Children

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC


A sensory bin is a container filled with various objects that stimulate the senses. It can be a great way to provide visual and tactile stimulation for children with autism or Sensory Processing Disorder. Sensory bins are a fabulous way to provide hours of therapeutic exploration and play for children of all ages. It's calming, fun, and a great way to work on various skills.


What are sensory bins?


They are simply containers filled with a variety of materials that appeal to different senses. Sensory bins are filled with various items that offer a variety of textures, colors, smells, and sounds. They are typically filled with a variety of objects that provide tactile, visual, and auditory input.


The objects in a sensory bin can be chosen to stimulate any of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. They can be as simple as a cardboard box filled with rice, or as complex as a custom-made bin with a variety of textures, smells, and sounds. For many children, the tactile sensation of exploring different materials in a sensory bin can help to promote a sense of calmness.


What is included in a sensory bin?


There are an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to creating and filling a sensory bin. The items you put in your sensory bin will depend on what you are hoping to achieve with it. For example, if you want to focus on tactile stimulation, you might include items like sand, rice, beans, pasta, or shaving cream. If you are looking for a calming activity, you might choose soothing items like water, jelly, or foam.


Water – This is a great material for providing visual and tactile input. It’s also calming and soothing for children who need a relaxing environment. Ice is also a great option to incorporate temperature awareness.


Rice – Rice is a great filler because it is lightweight and easy to clean up. It is also relatively inexpensive.


Lentils – Lentils are another great option because they are affordable and have a variety of colors.


Beans – Beans are heavier than rice or lentils, so they provide more of a challenge for kids. They are also colorful and can be fun to explore.




In addition, sensory bins can be adapted to meet the needs of any child, regardless of their age or ability level. There are countless possibilities when it comes to creating a sensory bin that is perfect for your child’s needs.


Why Use Sensory Bins In Therapy?


Sensory bins offer many benefits for children, both therapeutic and developmental. Some of these benefits include:


· Increased focus and attention

· Improved communication skills

· Enhanced sensory processing

· Increased motivation and engagement


Sensory bins provide a practical and hands on experience that can help to improve fine motor skills. When children are given the opportunity to explore different textures and materials as well as manipulate them using various instruments, they are utilizing fine motor skills. For example, scooping rice with a small spoon requires precise movements. Sensory bins can improve cognitive skills through the use of sorting and as they are working on identifying colors and shapes.


Additionally, sensory bins are a wonderful way to help children with sensory processing issues. Sensory bins can be used to provide extra stimulation and help children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) focus and regulate their emotions.


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