Love the Mess

I love sensory bins! I don’t remember where I saw them (hello 100 pins) or whom I heard the idea from (school, OT), but sensory bins are a great… ready for it …sensory activity! It also helps hone fine motor skills and imagination.

And, it can be especially perfect when the kids start transitioning into the witching hour. Please tell me your kids go through a witching hour?! It may not happen every night, but when it does, WHOA. Where did my cute mellow kids go, and who are these crazy wild balls of cranky energy they have been replaced with?! So, if its one of those nights, I add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the beans. Hmm… calming goodness.

This sensory activity will focus their attention into sorting, scooping, pouring, feeling different textures, and of course smelling the gentle scent of lavender. Sensory input fulfilled. P.S. This is great for any time of the day, not just around the witching hour!

Here are some of the sensory tools that my kids have taken a liking too:

  • Textured sensory balls
  • Scissor-style scooper
  • Toy tongs
  • Pinch-style scooper
  • Zigzag baster (great for water play)

sensory-tools        texture-balls

If you don’t have sensory tools at home now, it’s easy to substitute the ones we used with items from the kitchen! Tongs, spoons, measuring cups, and whisks are just a few things that come to mind. But if you are searching specifically for a style of play tools like ours, try searching with terms like this: fine motor skills toys, sensory tools, and sensory toys.

Side note. I have realized at times I may be a HELICOPTER parent. And, while I want my kids to succeed and I want to help them with everything, I cannot DO everything for them! What good is it to step in and do everything for them? They won’t take away the skills to do it on their own if I am constantly interfering. So to all you moms and dads looking to be better versions of yourself for your kids: Teach them life skills. Foster their independence. Make them resilient. But also encourage snuggles. Because as parents know deep down the snuggling days won’t last forever!

I digress. Jumping back into this activity.

I am putting out the intention to be more aware of involving my kids when it comes to setting up and breaking down trains, forts, and all the other playtime things.

So on that train of thought…my kids helped out setting up the sensory bin. As soon as the bin was on the floor, they rallied around excitedly.

“What’s this bin for Momma?” Duncan asked. Laney threw some stuffed animals in and tried to climb in with them. “Let’s calm our bodies, and I will tell you.” I said as I pulled the supplies out.


I opened the beans and let them empty them in. I set out a bunch of fine motor skill toys and tools to use, but told them to find another toy they each wanted to bring to the bin. And when it was time to put it away, they helped scoop rogue beans and put them back, then closed the lid. Including kids in the setup and breakdown of activities also helps with transitioning.

Things to Use:

  • 1 Plastic bin, approximately 2’Lx1’W works great with two kids
  • 2 bags garbanzo beans
  • 1 bag black beans
  • 1 bag pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Rice (optional, read tougher cleanup)
  • Scoopers
  • Tongs
  • Sifter cups
  • Textured balls
  • Toy figures
  • Toy snow plows
  • 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil

Keep in mind; all of these items are optional. Mix the varieties of beans or rice to enrich the texture, and use what is available in your pantry!



This is such an easy to make activity!

Enjoy the beans!




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