These sensory bins are a great way to entertain children outdoors, and they don’t require any clean-up!
I’m a big believer in independent and imaginative play, but sometimes kids need a little guidance to get started. Sensory bins are great for that. These particular ones are meant to be played with outdoors so that you don’t have to clean them up afterward.
Our absolute favorite is the bird seed sensory bin! Have you ever played with bird seed? It feels wonderful to run your fingers through all the tiny seeds. My daughter will sit and play with it forever. Aside from how fun this sensory bin is, I love that it requires no clean-up if you’re playing with it outdoors. Any seed that spills out of the bin will be cleaned up by the birds (or squirrels). Just don’t leave this bin outside when it’s not being used, or you will probably attract a bunch of critters and no longer have any bird seed to play with.
Another great outdoor sensory bin that doesn’t need to be cleaned up is water. This idea of playing in water probably isn’t new to you (and your kids), but keep it novel by changing out the “tools” they use in the water (sponges, whisks, strainers, measuring cups, funnels, etc…) You can purchase a water table, or you can make your own using any large container you already have. We used our red wagon. Obviously, any water that spills will eventually evaporate and so doesn’t need cleaning….however, your kids are likely to need a change of clothes afterward if they’re anything like mine. ***Please remember to never leave children unattended around water.
Do your kids love playing in a sandbox? Does the idea of a sandbox gross you out? I know it did me, yet my daughter wanted to do nothing else but play in the sandbox every time we went to the park. I decided to make one she could play with at home that I knew would be “clean.”
For this outdoor sensory bin, I bought a bag of sand from the hardware store. (They have bags specifically for sandboxes.) Then I dumped the sand into a large plastic storage bin that came with a lid. I added just enough water to make the sand moldable. We play with the bin on the lawn or a part of the yard where any sand spillage won’t really need to be cleaned up. When the sandbox isn’t being played with, I can seal it shut with the plastic lid to keep cats and critters away.
One more outdoor sensory bin filler that doesn’t require clean-up is potting soil. The first time I saw how much my daughter enjoyed playing with potting soil was when she helped me plant some seeds as a toddler. Ever since then, I bring out the potting soil and a bowl (or other large container) to create this sensory bin every spring as soon as the snow melts.
I always use organic potting soil so I don’t have to worry about little hands being around harsh chemicals. We usually play with this on the lawn or deck, and any spillage isn’t a problem since it will just get washed away in the rain.
Please always use your own judgement as to what sensory bin materials are appropriate for your child(ren). The materials listed here should not be used with young kids who still put things in their mouth.
Haven’t ventured into the world of sensory bins yet? Click here to read why we use them.
And we have a list of other sensory bin fillers we love here.