39 of The Best Sensory Bin Fillers

It’s no secret that we love a sensory bin! If you’re looking for an open ended play idea for your little one without having to spend a lot of money, a sensory bin is one of those ideas you can pull together in a few minutes with stuff you already have lying around the house.

The great thing about sensory bins is that they can either have a specific theme, or just be full of plenty of sensory items to engage little one. Plus, depending on the types of sensory fillers you use, they can be aimed at little ones all the way up to toddlers and beyond.

This is the ultimate list of the best sensory bin fillers! We’ve pulled together a list of our favorite tried and tested sensory items, most which you will already have lying around at home. Screenshot this one for later!

39 of The Best Sensory Bin Fillers


Rice is one of our favorite sensory bin fillers as it’s cheap to use, you’re likely to have some lying around at home and it adds such a fab sensory element to those little exploring fingers.

Add an additional sensory element to it by dying the rice with food coloring or adding a scent to it.

2. Dry Pasta

It doesn’t get any easier than dried pasta! Simply pour some pasta into your bin, ready for those little hands. It’s one of the most practical and cheapest fillers.

Like the rice, you could color the pasta too for an additional sensory element.

3. Beans

Use lentils, black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas for a super fun sensory item. Certain beans such as kidney beans may need cleaning and drying before use.

We recommend beans for older kids, but always supervise children when playing with elements like this as we know too well how little hands like to explore.

4. Sponges

Sponges make a great sensory item, unlike other hard sensory fillers, they have a really dense, soft and sometimes rough texture to them.

Grab a sponge and cut it into different shapes and sizes so there are plenty of things mixed in together for your little one to explore with.

5. Sand

There’s something about sandpits in general that just herd children in! Sensory activities are enjoyable and educational, and we think sand is one of the best fillers there is as you can create an exploration game of hiding other objects within the sand.

You can use kinetic sand or real sand for a sensory filler.

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6. Corn Kernels

Dry corn kernels for a crunchy texture. Combine them with other items such as rice, pasta and sand for a real mixture of sensory feels.

7. Shredded Paper

Simple, easy, we’re sold! Before you recycle your paper, simply shred it with a shredder or just cut it into pieces. It’s a great filler item to bulk up a sensory bin.

8. Cotton Balls

Soft, fluffy and cloud like, what’s not to love?! Cotton balls are easily available or cheap to pick up if you don’t have any to hand.

You could use this filler for a seasonal activity in the winter and Christmas and combine with other festive materials such as green or red pasta shapes, glittery sequins and even pieces of foliage.

9. Pom Poms

Brightly colored, available in a variety sizes and even those with a glitzy finish, their soft yet spiky body makes for the most perfect sensory play for little ones.

10. Buttons

I remember growing up and constantly asking my mom if I could play with her button tin. It was what sensory dreams were made of! So many different sizes, colors and different style finishes. Sensory aside, you could also get your little one to get all the buttons together and group them in the correct color.

You often get additional buttons with pieces of clothing, so keep those to one side and start building a collection up today! Alternatively, get some online or visit a local haberdashery store to stock up.

11. Aquarium Gravel

These small, smooth stones are a great addition to a water sensory bin. They’ll sink to the bottom of the water and little ones will love swooshing their hands through the water and picking them up.

12. Oats

Rolled oats are a natural, cheap and effective sensory bin filler. Use in a dried or water based sensory bin activity.

13. Dried Peas

Use split peas or whole peas, they’re a hands safe item too. Although small in size, we’d still recommend cutting peas down as they could still be a choking hazard, supervision should always be on hand.

14. Feathers

What’s better than soft, fluffy feathers? They come in a range of colors and sizes from art stores or online, for older ones you could get them to group by color and add an educational element as to where feathers originate from.

15. Sequins

What little one isn’t mesmerized by sequins? So many different colors, sparkles, sizes and they have those little ridges that are great for engaging all senses.

16. Craft Foam Pieces

Use different shaped craft foam pieces for a fun sensory bin. You could create a foam themed bin, by including items like sponges too.

17. Play Dough

Whether you buy shop bought play dough or whip up a batch of your own, little ones will have so much fun feeling, moulding and making shapes out of it.

18. Jello/ Gelatin

Jiggly and fun to squish, what’s not to love? It’s hand and mouth safe and just gives the greatest sensory feeling for little hands.

19. Cereal

Using cereal as a sensory bin filler offers a delightful multi-sensory experience. Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and other cereals come in various shapes, sizes, and textures, making them perfect for tactile exploration.

The crunchy texture of dry cereals like Cheerios can be soothing to touch and fun to scoop and pour, while smaller cereals like Rice Krispies provide a different tactile experience, similar to sand but edible and safe.

20. Seeds

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other varieties make excellent sensory bin fillers, providing a natural and earthy texture.

For older kids, get them to plant certain seeds after and watch them grow and develop as the seasons progress.

21. Marbles

Marbles are one of those things like buttons, utterly fun to play with and enhanced by their smoothness and different colors. Why not create a sensory bin of marbles and buttons?

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22. Soap Foam or Shaving Foam

Made with water and dish soap, soap foam creates a bubbly and squishy sensory experience that’s fun to touch and play with.

Shaving foam is a great alternative, offering a similar texture and an enjoyable way to explore soft, foamy fun. Have a go at coloring it too – this lends itself to an ice cream parlour sensory bin setup!

23. Leaves

As fall sets in, there’s nothing better than those crisp and crunchy leaves which makes for fun sensory exploration.

Add a mixtures of dried and wet leaves in different shapes and sizes. Extend playtime, by getting your little one involved in collecting the leaves beforehand.

24. Small Toys

Include small toys such as cars, animals, and figures in a sensory bin adds an element of imaginative play.

These items can enhance storytelling, fine motor skills, and cognitive development as children engage with the toys in various scenarios.

25. Shells

Banish holiday blues by adding shells from your holiday to the sensory bin. With their beautiful ridges, different sizes and colors, they offer plenty of sensory opportunities.

26. Ice

Crushed or cubed ice provides a cool and refreshing sensory experience, allowing children to explore temperature and texture.

It’s perfect for hot days and can be combined with other materials for added sensory fun.

27. Stickers

Stickers provide a fun and interactive sensory activity as children stick them to surfaces and peel them off. This activity helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while offering endless creative possibilities.

28. Artificial Snow

Instant snow powder transforms into fluffy, snow-like material when mixed with water, creating a cold and soft sensory experience.

It’s perfect for indoor winter-themed activities, offering the magic of snow without the mess.

29. Glow Sticks

Glow sticks provide a mesmerizing and glowing sensory experience, especially in dim or dark environments.

They are perfect for nighttime play, adding a magical and visually stimulating element to sensory activities.

30. Scrap Fabrics

Scrap fabrics with different textures and patterns offer a rich tactile and visual sensory experience. You can usually get sample off-cuts free of charge from online retailers if you don’t have anything lying around the house that you could use.

31. Makeup Brushes

Trust us on this one! Make sure they’re washed first, and add your different brushes to the sensory bin. Their smooth handle with fluffy bristles is just a perfect sensory item for older babies and beyond.

32. Rocks

Smooth or rough rocks provide a natural and grounding sensory experience.

They offer a variety of textures and can be used for sorting, stacking, and creating landscapes, fostering both tactile exploration and imaginative play.

33. Foil Blanket

A foil blanket provides a crinkly and shiny sensory experience, captivating both sight and touch.

Its reflective surface and unique texture make it perfect for auditory and visual stimulation, adding an exciting element to sensory play.

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34. Colored Water

Water play, is the best play, especially for summer outdoor fun! Add food coloring to the water for visual appeal.

35. Baubles

Baubles add a festive and colorful touch to sensory bins, with their smooth surfaces and shiny finishes.

These decorative items are great for holiday-themed activities, offering visual appeal and a delightful sensory exploration.

36. Cooked Spaghetti

Cold and slimy, this one is a lot of fun for a sensory bin!

37. Tinsel

Tinsel brings a sparkly and tactile dimension to sensory play with its shimmering strands and metallic texture.

38. Dried Flowers

Dried flowers add a fragrant and visually pleasing element to sensory bins. Their delicate petals and varying textures provide a calming and aromatic sensory experience, perfect for exploring nature indoors.

39. Wood Chips

Wood chips offer a natural and earthy texture, ideal for sensory play. They provide a rustic feel and can be used in a variety of activities, from scooping and sorting to creating small landscapes, enhancing both tactile exploration and imaginative play.

Oklahoma Joe's Apple Wood Smoker Chips, 2-Pound Bag

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Sensory bin fillers can be reused again if appropriate! We love storing the leftovers in zip lock bags to keep them safe and secure ready for the next play activity.

Looking for more inspiration? Here are some fab sensory item ideas for baby sensory play.

Photo of author
Bjarni Baby

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