4th of July Sensory Bin

4th of July sensory bin

In honor the upcoming holiday, I made the kids a 4th of July Sensory Bin


The kids won’t see it until the week of the 4th but I went ahead and made a few bins this week while the boys are still out of town! I actually got a few bins prepared and will share those soon too!

Target made it easy for me, as I got many of the extras there! I also dyed rice red and blue for the base underneath …IMG_7228

My favorite part is the fireworks straws {from Target}…IMG_7235

The sides of the bin have gel clings {which the kids adore}, and inside I put spiky balls, red/blue beads {Target}, and glittery pom poms {Target}…IMG_7238

A bit of info on where I got some of the stuff

  • Spikey Balls: mine were from Walmart awhile back, but I saw them online here.
  • Glittery Pom Poms, bead necklaces: Target-in the birthday section
  • Buckets: $1 section at Target
  • Fireworks Straws: Target-on an end cap with 4th of July stuff.
  • Gel Clings: I have NO clue-my mom got these for us awhile back and sent them up in a box-Michaels would be my guess?

I may add more red and blue stuff, but I wanted this to be simple. I have red, white and blue spoons, cups and bowls ready to put out with the tub also.

Here’s a few more 4th of July Sensory Bins I found online…

If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytime. Sensory-Bins622

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Montessori Minute ~ Sensory Activities

Montessori Sensory Activities at Home

Maria Montessori developed the Sensorial Materials to help 2-6 year old children educate and refine their senses to recognize similarities and differences, and make decisions based on sensory characteristics. She based her materials on objects used at that time in research on human perception. The Sensorial materials include the Cylinder Blocks, Pink Tower, Red Rods, Broad Stair, Geometric Solids, Color Boxes, Smell and Sound cylinders, Baric Tablets, Constructive Triangle Boxes, Fabric Box, Thermal Cylinders, and others found in virtually all Montessori preschools.

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Your 2-6 year old child’s brain is where the action is! Early childhood is all about opening new brain nerve pathways and developing the best possible brain architecture. Your child’s senses send electrical impulses racing to his brain, where they open nerve pathways and are interpreted as sensations of touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound. When a young child uses Montessori and other sensory activities, she experiences the relative sensory characteristics of objects. She focuses her attention and makes comparisons and decisions based on sensory information. These purposeful mental activities develop the efficient, powerful brain architecture your child will use the rest of her life. They are why children in Montessori preschools learn to read, write, use mathematics, and develop critical thinking skills at young ages in a very natural, unforced way. These skills are the byproducts of strong brain development and learning to focus attention. For young children, it’s all about the brain.

Starting your home Sensory activities is easy – turn a plastic storage box into a Sensory Bin. These are versatile and allow free exploration.

Fall Sensory Bin IMG_9244 IMG_3297

A nice first bin can hold a couple of inches of multicolored rice and various spoons, cups, jars with lids, and a funnel. Other items like beans, cotton balls, paper from the shredder, foam pom poms and shapes, plastic Easter eggs, squeezable rubber objects, plastic animals, loose jingle bells, marbles, and perhaps some fragrant orange peels, lemon rinds, or even spices, can be added as desired. Use fine sand one time, un-popped popcorn the next, and marbles another time. Provide wooden, ceramic, and sturdy glass containers that create interesting sounds as materials are poured in and out. Hide interesting objects in the pile and let your child find them. Make picture cards of these objects for your child to match her discoveries to.

Sensory Bins can be filled with objects related to a theme, like a walk in the woods in the fall (river rocks, pine cones, meadow grass, a jar of river water, Thanksgiving (gourds, split peas, leaves turning color), Christmas, or a trip to the beach. Another time, clear out a bin and put in blobs of shaving cream. Add different food coloring to each blob and let your child mix them up.

Sensory Books are another easy home activity. Gather various objects from around the house or from a walk in the park: aluminum foil, a cotton ball, a small rock, string, a walnut, tree bark, grass, leaves, a flower, smooth fabric – objects with distinctive textures. Make a book by folding and stapling sheets of construction paper. Let your child glue the objects onto the pages. In lower case block letters, write the name of each object below it, along with a word or two describing how the object feels. This is a good time to help your child in the gradual transition to abstract thought by including photos from the internet of hard, soft, long, short, large, small, and other objects. Display these proudly and read them often with your child. With practice, he can start to read his sensory books!

Montessori Sensory activities are easy to create at home!


First, buy a blindfold or make one by taping over the eye holes of a costume mask. A handkerchief tiedaround the head works, too. Have your child wear it when comparing objects by senses other than sight. This helps your child focus on his other senses. Make sure you also try it!

Sample paint color cards from the hardware store can be used to teach color names and match colors. Get the best examples you can of the Primary Colors – red, yellow, & blue; and the Secondary Colors orange, green, purple (violet), and also brown, gray, pink, black, and white. Your child can match these up and learn the names of the colors using a Three Step Lesson. Watch for a detailed post for directions on this coming soon!


Sample cards with various shades of a single color make a great color grading material to organize colors from darkest to lightest. First ask, “Can you find the darkest color?” and have your child set it to the left. Now ask, “Can you find the darkest one of those that are left over here?” and repeat, setting the next one to the right of the first. Repeat until your child has made a line going left to right (sets up a visual pattern for reading) and darkest to lightest.


Small plastic food containers made up in matching pairs containing materials like salt, unpopped popcorn, beans, rice, paper clips, coffee, etc. make a great sound matching material.


The blindfold helps your child focus in on the sounds when your child shakes each container next to her ear to find the ones that match – “Do they sound the same, or different?” use materials that sound very different at first so your child has early success with the material. This always increases interest and motivation – young children love to succeed at things! Let your child listen as you hand him sound containers and he gradually matches them up.

If your child is just a bit young for this and cannot recognize the sound similarities and differences, focus instead on filling the containers 1/3 full and putting the lids on tight. Encourage and praise your child when she does well at this. In the near future she will be ready to match the sounds and will have a positive feeling about this material.

Various spices in small open cups are used for smell matching, again wearing the blindfold. Good spices for this include ground cinnamon, minced garlic, cumin seed, ground thyme,vanilla bean, & Mrs. Dash.


Just pour a bit of each spice into a clear cup and have you child put on the blindfold. Let him smell a spice, then a second spice, and tell you if they are the same or different. If he says “Different”, and there are two cups there when he lifts the blindfold, he was right! If he says “The Same” and there is only one cup, that means he smelled the same spice twice and is correct again. Now you put on the blindfold.

Different numbers of coins placed in your child’s outstretched hands can be felt to determine if they are the same or different in weight “Which hand is heavier now?” Counting the coins to compare introduces math. All kinds of fabrics can be cut into pairs of 5-6” squares and used – again with a blindfold – for matching by feel.


Pour different temperatures of lukewarm to pretty hot water into small glass cups, add a couple you have cooled in the frig for different lengths of time beforehand, and let your child put them in a line from warmest to coolest going left to right (again encouraging a visual pattern for reading), wearing the blindfold, to exercise your child’s thermal (temperature) sense. Place a thermometer in each and write down their temperatures. Unsweetened chocolate, salt, sugar, and a lemon can be used to help your child distinguish the four basic tastes.


Of course, you have a whole world of music and art experiences you can introduce to your child; and a kitchen chock full of wonderful tastes and smells! Use all kinds of new language during these activities – smallest, largest, color names, louder, softer, sweet, sour, salty, longest, shortest, etc. – to create new language experiences. You can do fabulous Montessori sensory activities right at home and have a lot of fun – try wearing the blindfold yourself and let your child hand you the objects!

Once your child has developed a proper writing grasp,

imagetracing objects is an excellent sensory activity that also prepares a child for writing. Arts & crafts stores have many wooden shapes in addition to the traditional circles, rectangles, and triangles. You can also use bottle lids, shallow boxes, cookie cutters, all kinds of objects. Print out basic geometric shapes onto card stock and cut them out for your child to trace.

Like all Montessori materials, involve your child in obtaining the materials and making them, then place each in its own attractive bowl, basket, box, or bag, and give each one a special, consistent place on low shelves in your child’s room. This encourages independent use of the materials. You can add a Montessori Pink Tower, Red Rods (or make your own from straws or wooden doweling), Cylinder Blocks #1 & 3, a Mystery Bag Set, Constructive Triangles, and the Binomial and Trinomial Cubes to your home preschool for about $175 over a 1-2 year period. When your child is finished with these, they are a quick sell on Ebay, recovering probably half your investment.


Photos from Montessori Outlet at www.montessorioutlet.com


Display your Montessori and other home early learning materials in consistent spots on low shelves in your child’s room or the room you homeschool in. Leave a little space between each for dramatic effect. Keep them clean, organized, and readyfor use. Switch materials out as your child’s interests and needs change.

Photo Credit: Chasing Cheerios

The Montessori Sensory activities, together with the Everyday Life (also called Independence or Practical Life) activities, set the stage for everything that follows. 2-4 year old children who use these activities have a much easier time learning to read and master math and science. They also develop a positive self-image as confident, competent people.

A word of advice: a computer, other internet device, or the TV should not beyour child’s primary sensory stimulators. Computers and TV provide valuable visual and auditory experiences; but they are not a substitute for active, movement based, hands on, varied sensorial experience. Computers should be introduced early to children because they are an integral part of their lives now; but children need hands on experience with all their senses, movement, and a variety of interpersonal relationships to fully develop. In your child’s early years, try not to let the computer take center stage, but instead be a great tool to reinforce and expand on your young child’s real life activities.Montessori Minute

John Bowman is the author of Montessori At Home! and Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain

My thanks to John for writing this extensive article for us here at 1+1+1=1! I invite you to ask him any questions you may have in the comments below and he can hopefully answer them for you.

Birds Sensory Bin

Bird Sensory Bin

In honor of Ladybug’s Tot School Printables Letter Dd theme {last week} ~ birds, and also our new Birds Preschool Pack which we are doing this week, I put together a small bird sensory bin to go along with our theme.  My mom sent up these adorable and realistic supplies to make it easy for me, thanks mom!IMG_0901

I just used black beans as the base-only because they were a natural color and all that I had.  In the bin ~ a small nest, tiny eggs, 2 birds and a wooden birdhouse!

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The kids LOVE this bin, Krash in particular has asked for it many times!  Here’s some first day action shots…IMG_2217

Krash asked for a hook to hang the birdhouse and spent tons of time flying the birds around, it was so cute!IMG_2233

We added containers and spoons and pretended we were filling a bird feeder…IMG_2227

Ladybug had lots of fun practicing her spoon skills with the beans…IMG_2239

She also counted eggs with me in our paint tray…IMG_2255

Even the old guy loved it!  He always loves the bins!IMG_2261


Our bird bin is very simple and not very impressive, but the bin Cindy shared on Totally Tots was awesome!  I was just too lazy to gather more items for this one!!!  The theme this month is BIRDS on Totally Tots, so be sure to check out many other great ideas that have already been shared and will be shared!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytime.


Behind the Scenes ~ Storing Sensory Bin Items

Storing and Organizing Sensory Bin Supplies

I have gotten a few questions wondering where our Sensory Bin items end up when not in use!  I put off on sharing for awhile because it was honestly all a big unorganized mess for a long time!  I finally put my system in place and can share now!!!  It isn’t perfect and I still lose stuff and wonder where I put something, but overall it works for us!

Sensory Bins


Here’s my main sensory Bin storage area, which is located in my storage room {the one I gained when we renovated and added the new schoolroom}.  This storage room is as big of a blessing as the actual schoolroom itself!  The bottom green bin is not sensory bin items, but is where I am now keeping printable theme units when we are finished.IMG_0882

Here’s how it is all broken down…


I had these colored drawers in my basement unused and they seemed like the perfect place to store items by color.  I often pick a base color for my bins so I keep the colored items sorted this way and an get to them easily for bins or even other activities regarding colors.

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In the white drawers, I keep extra random supplies for the bins and for other Tot Tray activities.  I often will pull these out in the middle of the week to add an activity to the bin.

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Each season has a drawer or a bin {I didn’t want to spend any money on matching bins so I used what I had that was empty!}.  Things that would ONLY be used during that season are placed in these bins/drawers.

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I have 1 big bin and in that bin each theme {pets, space, farm, bugs, sports, etc.} has a gallon sized ziploc bag to store the items.  I have this bin on top so I can easily place new items for upcoming themes in side the baggies.  My mom often sends us a box of bin items and this way I can easily sort any new theme items quickly and not forget what I have!

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Multiple use Items

Some things are used for various bins, but aren’t a particular color.  Those items are bagged up and placed in a bin labeled “Sensory Bin Items.”  As you can see it is currently a mess and overflowing!  I need to get a bigger bin and redo this part of my system!IMG_0886


The Next Bin{s}

I have several of the same bin ready for rotation {also an unused item in my basement from an old train table we used to have!}.  I try to stay at least 1 bin ahead, sometimes 2.  I begin to gather contents and go ahead and place them in the upcoming bin.  Then the night before it goes out, I open it all and get it all pretty ;-). IMG_0882


I do use other items in sensory bins, that aren’t stored in these places, and I do my best to remember these things!

Counting Coconuts has a great post about this exact same topic and she goes deep into other FAQ about Sensory Bins, be sure to jump over there and check it out!


See more Behind the Scenes Posts here!

See our Simple Sensory Bin Collection here!


Easter Fun ~ Sensory Bin & More

We usually don’t focus on the novelty side of Easter, but my mom sent up a ton of cute little items so I decided to put together an Easter Fun Sensory Bin.  The kids love playing with little toys and items so I just knew they would love this tub full of junk, wonderful items!IMG_0896

A few first day action shots…

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In addition to the bin, I set up a few of our Easter baskets around, one with blow up eggs and one with plastic eggs.  They always beg to play with the eggs and have their own egg hunts ~ now they can!

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This time I decided to put our gel clings on our boxes instead of in the bin and they all loved them!IMG_1000 IMG_0994

I set out a basket filled with out Easter Books also…IMG_0920

I was amazed with the interest in the book basket, mostly from Krash.  He begged me to read several books and looked at them for a long time on his own!


A bit of info on where I got some of the stuff:

  • My mom.  Sorry, no link for that.
  • Oriental Trading has tons of awesome sensory bin items, just search by theme! We got MANY of the items in this bin from OT!

A few more Easter sensory bins I saw online…

If I missed yours, leave a link in the comments!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin postsSensory-Bins622

Another Easter note ~ last year I made printables to go along with the Resurrection Eggs, and I have a Spring Fun webpage with more Easter printables and ideas!  Here is a post from Totally Tots filled with Easter Printables, and here is another one!