As the temperatures dip lower, I’m always on the search for easy activities that my kids, and one of my kids’ favorite things to do is play with a sensory bin. I made a winter sensory bin with fake snow, and it was a huge hit for my kids.
I saw a bag of fake snowflakes at the store and felt inspired to create a snow-y sensory activity for my kids. It was perfect recently when we were hit with a few inches of snow, and my kids aren’t the biggest fan of going out in the cold.
I can’t blame them!
So, I brought the snow inside – but fake – and included winter inspired objects for them to enjoy. You don’t have to include everything you want; make this your own. However, your kids are sure to love the feel of the fake snow in this bin.
Related: Christmas Sensory Bin for Toddlers
Why are Sensory Bins Good for Little Kids
Years ago, I was convinced that making sensory bins was something “extra” parents did that weren’t needed, but now that I’m an occupational therapist, I’ve learned how important sensory play truly is or children. Sensory bins give your child an opportunity to explore and learn through tactile play.
Here are some benefits of using sensory bins with your kids.
1. Stimulates Multiple Senses
Using sensory bins stimulates multiple senses as your child plays with them. They use touch, sight, sound, and, sometimes, smell. You can engage different senses by putting different objects into the sensory bin.
2. Improves Fine Motor Skills
Another benefit of sensory bins is that they work on your child’s fine motor skills if you include tools for your child to stir, dig, pour, and scoop. Kids also love working with spoons, funnels, and tweezers to work on their grasping skills.
Later, those skills will help your child with handwriting skills.
3. Works on Social Skills
If you have more than one child who plays with the sensory bins (or perhaps use in the classroom), this play time works on important social skills your kids need to have. They have an opportunity to work on taking turns, cooperation, and communication.
Siblings count for social skills!
4. Develops Language and Vocabulary
When your child plays with a sensory bin, it also develops language. Try to include different hidden items that your child may not know the name, helping expand your child’s language and vocabulary.
5. Helps Cognitive Development
Sensory bin options are endless, so it’s possible to use them to support cognitive development. Putting letters and numbers into the bin encourage your child to learn their alphabet and practice counting.
6. Calms Your Child
Many kids find sensory play a calming, quiet activity that brings peace to the middle of the afternoon when everyone just needs to settle down for a few minutes. It gives your child time to work on playing independently, and it may just the time you need to enjoy a second (or fourth – I’m not judging) – cup of coffee.
Many parents make sensory bottles for their kids; these are often called calm down bottles. The bottles contain glitter or other objects that move slowly as your child turns and flips the bottle. Toddlers and old kids alike become mesmerized by the movement, and it helps them regulate their emotions.
How to Incorporate Language into Sensory Bins
If you want to get the most out of your sensory bins, use this as a time to build your child’s language skills and vocabulary. Most of my sensory bins have a theme or an idea around them – they just aren’t objects tossed together for sensory play.
If you have a theme like dinosaurs, winter play, water animals, or letters, this is a great time to focus on building your child’s vocabulary.
Here are some of my favorite tips for incorporating language into winter sensory bin play.
- Talk about the textures your child may feel while engaging in the sensory bin. The objects may feel cold, slimy, soft, smooth, rough, sticky, bumpy, or other textures, depending on what you use.
- Have your child discuss the sounds he hears while playing in the bin. For example, rice may have a scratchy sound, but fake snow could be quiet.
- Discuss the colors your child sees in the sensory bin, and ask him to pick out certain colors. Grouping colors together is a cognitive skill task.
- Compare the objects you include in the sensory bins, and describe them using new vocabulary.
- Use action words by encouraging your child to mix, pour, whisk, and stir the materials.
As your child gets older, extend sensory bin play and use a dry erase board to write down words that may relate to the objects. Your child can circle the words that go with the object.
How to Make a Winter Sensory Bin with Fake Snow
Putting together a winter sensory bin is so easy, and you may have some of these objects at home.
Supplies You Need
- Snow Powder or Fake Snowflakes
- Winter cookie cutters
- Small wooden snowflakes
- Snowflakes sequins
- Tiny snowmen
These are the items I included in the winter sensory bin, but you can substitute the snowflakes with other items, like cotton balls, white pom poms, baking soda, or homemade fake snow.
Related: DIY Fake Snow For Sensory Play
My kids thought this was such a fun activity, and it’s easy to adapt if you want to make it a sort-of Christmas sensory bin as well. Think of all the possibilities!
My little kids like to dig the cookie cutters into the snow, and the texture is perfect for squeezing and rolling in their hands. They bury the little snowmen and smoosh the sequin snowflake into the snow.
Other ideas might be to use measuring cups, spoons, and even rolling pins. I can see my kids enjoying the feel of rolling out the fake snow on the table.
If you want a fun winter activity that your toddler and even preschooler will enjoy, this winter sensory bin is the perfect idea. It will keep your children entertained for hours!