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Sensory Bin Fun: Magnets, Measuring, and More

Sensory bins are a great way for kids to practice fine motor skills!

Sensory bins are a great way for kids to destress while practicing fine motor skills! This past week I put together some sensory bin fun with magnets and measuring that both two-year-old Anna AND her three older siblings enjoyed!

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Magnets are a fun sensory bin material!

I use the largest container from this SnapWare storage container set for our sensory bin. It isn’t very large, but it works for one child at a time (sometimes all four kids crowd around it, and then it is definitely tight!) I like that the lid fits securely, the bin has tall sides, and the lid is one that Anna can remove without spilling the contents. The kids love the smaller containers for their lunches for the same reasons. I filled the bin maybe one fourth of the way full with black beans, and mixed in several of the magnetic discs from the Learning Resources Super Magnet Lab – a magnet set that I really like! The same kit came with the pink magnetic wand Anna is using to pull out the discs.

use magnets for a sensory bin treasure hunt - great sensory bin fun!

Anna (and her older siblings) really enjoys this magnetic treasure hunt, and it’s a great self-entertaining activity because she can easily dump the discs back in and mix them up herself for a new search. Pulling the discs off the wand is great fine motor practice for Anna!

I do want to note that magnets can very dangerous if swallowed, so any magnet activities should be well-supervised, and done with children who do not put things in their mouths. The magnet wand is great, because it is too large to swallow but still contains a strong magnet that easily picks the magnetic discs (plastic discs with a bit of magnetic wire on the edges) out of the beans.

sensory bins provide a great opportunity for kids to practice measuring and pouring

Anna also enjoys using the beans for a transferring activity. I give her a 1/4 cup measuring cup and a teaspoon from our kitchen drawers, and she scoops the beans up with the teaspoons, pours them into the 1/4 cup, and then dumps that back into the bin. This is a great activity for my very right-hand dominant child, because it requires her work using both hands together.

I’m sure some of you are wondering how messy this gets. My kids are generally pretty tidy, but this bin HAS been dumped out on the floor more than once. We always play on the rug, where the beans don’t travel as far when they are dumped out. I limit the amount of beans in part to limit the mess, and when they do get dumped out it’s a great pincer grasp activity for the kids to pick them up!

Do your kids love sensory bins? Check out my popular Sensory Activities for Kids board on Pinterest for more sensory activity ideas for children!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

10 thoughts on “Sensory Bin Fun: Magnets, Measuring, and More”

  1. That looks like fun! We don’t have small magnets but we have these geometric magnetic shapes that my kids love. It’s neat seeing them figure out why it feels different to pull and put them together. And it’s awesome when they go around the house seeing if it’ll stick to that or not.

  2. A mom whose kids play a LOT with tiny legos uses a sheet under the play space for easy clean up. I’ll bet that will work great for your sensory beans and discs.

    1. I usually spend some time with my kids explaining that they can’t do that; that being said, they have pretty calm and mellow personalities, which may be more conducive to this type of activity :)

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