Polar Bear Sensory Bin

Use a polar bear sensory bin for occupational therapy interventions

This polar bear sensory bin is an old one from The OT Toolbox site archives. This tactile sensory activity is a fun way to challenge sensory exploration with a variety of textures and materials. But more than that, this polar bear activity can be used in a therapy theme to address skills. The next part of the polar bear gross motor activity included a Our Polar Bear Sensory bin was cotton batting, tinsel, a stuffed polar bear, and a seal toy.  This is a Winter Sensory bin that can go along with an arctic animals theme.

Polar bear sensory bin

Polar Bear Sensory Bin Materials

There are many ways to set up this sensory bin. Use items you have in your home or therapy space. Use some of the materials listed below. You DO NOT need all of these items. The nice thing about creating a themed sensory bin is that you can use what you have on hand. Some ideas for the sensory bin include:

  • Container or bin
  • Teddy bear
  • Tinsel
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton batting
  • Tissue paper
  • Rice
  • Dry beans
  • Blue or white construction paper
  • Tape
  • Wax paper
  • Clear cellophane
  • Aluminum foil
  • Arctic animal figures
Make a polar bear sensory bin with figures, and sensory materials.

Other materials that you may want to add to the polar bear sensory bin to encourage fine motor skills and coordination skills:

  • Tweezers to pick up and manipulate materials
  • Small bowls
  • Tongs
  • Spoons or scoops
  • Chopsticks
  • Pickle picker
  • Containers
  • Counting cards (try the winter themed ones in the Winter Fine Motor Kit)

Fine Motor Skills in a Sensory Bin

Using the materials and tools above, students can work on fine motor skills to manipulate and explore the items in the sensory bin. Some ways to work on fine motor skills include:

Address in-hand manipulation by sorting items in the hands into containers or cups.

Work on hand strength and arch development by moving items with tongs, tweezers, or pickle picker.

Work on open thumb web space by pinching and pulling cotton balls.

Work on finger isolation by moving materials and items around in the bin.

Work on grasp and precision by picking up small items such as tinsel, mini-erasers, crumbled paper or tissue paper, etc.

Use a Sensory Bin for Visual Perception

This polar bear sensory bin can be used to address a variety of visual perceptual skills: visual discrimination, visual memory, visual attention, figure ground, and visual closure.

Ask children to locate specific items by color or texture. They can also recall items that they found in the sensory bin. Ask kids to locate items that are partially hidden by other objects or sensory bin filler materials. These are all ways to work on visual perceptual skills with this polar bear sensory bin.

Use a Sensory Bin for Eye-Hand Coordination

A sensory bin like this polar bear theme can be used in so many ways to address eye-hand coordination:

  • Pouring materials
  • Scooping materials like beans or rice
  • Using tongs or tweezers to pick up and move items like mini erasers
  • Sorting sensory bin items into piles or containers
  • Picking up and exploring various sensory bin items

Polar Bear Imagination Play

My kids had fun just imagining stories for the items in the sensory bin. We used the stuffed bear as a polar bear and a seal figure who was trying to escape into the ocean…Imagination play!  

Polar bear sensory bin with tinsel and arctic animal figures.

Little Guy glued some waxed paper to blue construction paper to make an ocean covered with ice.  We had a striped Christmas pencil for our “North Pole”. 

Baby Girl did NOT like the texture or “feel” of the tinsel. It got stuck to her hands and she would try to pull it off…The seal is another story.  She carried that thing around all day 🙂  

Kids of all ages can use the materials in the sensory bin to work on tactile sensory exploration, fine motor skills, and visual perception.

Looking for more Polar Bear play ideas??  We had fun with our first Polar Bear Theme activities day!   We should have more ideas up tomorrow to go along with the Polar Bear theme. 

You’ll also love all of the items in our Winter Fine Motor Kit. It’s loaded with coloring sheets, handwriting pages, puzzles, and crafts with a polar bear theme. There are sensory bin materials, polar bear finger puppets, lacing cards, and so much more.

winter fine motor kit

Click here to grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

Polar Bear Game

polar bear math game

Today, I have a hands on learning activity for second grade using a polar bear game. This number line games for 2nd grade could actually be used in any age or grade level math, however, the polar bear craft that we used for a second grade math game turned out to be a fun way to work on base ten operations and adding 10’s and 100’s to two and three digit numbers. In second grade, adding two digits is a big deal! This polar bear activity is a fun two digit addition games for 2nd grade (and other grades).

If polar bear crafts and activities are right up your ally this winter, try some of these other polar bear activities, including a polar bear slide deck for distance learning or virtual therapy brain breaks, and this cute polar bear self-regulation activity.

polar bear math game for teaching second grade place value and two digit addition with hands on learning.

Polar Bear Craft

You’ll need a few materials for the polar bear craft. Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

White crafting pom poms
(1 inch) White crafting pom poms
(1/4 inch) Black crafting pom pom
(1/8 inch) Mini googly eyes
Crafting glue

Polar bear craft

To make the polar bear craft, glue the small white crafting pom poms to the white pom pom. These will become the polar bear’s ears.  Glue the black pom pom to the bear’s face. This will become the nose.  Add the googly eyes and your polar bear craft is done.

There are a lot of fine motor skills being addressed in the making of this polar bear craft: pincer grasp, eye-hand coordination, in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, and separation of the sides of the hand.

Polar bear craft made with pom poms or cotton balls.

This polar bear craft would pair nicely with our snowball math activity, designed to inspire hands-on learning with gross motor skills. The polar bear math activity described here would also go well with our Winter Fine Motor Kit, which is loaded with polar bear themed fine motor activities and crafts designed to target and strengthen specific fine motor skills.

Polar bear math game for second grade base ten operations concepts like adding 10s and 100s to two and three digit numbers for hands on fun and creative learning with a fun polar bear craft!

Polar Bear Game

We played a polar bear game to boost second grade math skills by working on adding 10’s and 100’s to numbers along the number line.  I showed my daughter how to use a straw to blow the craft pom pom polar bear craft across the table and along the number line.  

We started the bear at zero and tried to see how far she could get the bear to go down the number line.  I then asked her a few questions that I had written out on cards:

  • What is your digit?
  • Is your digit even or odd?
  • What is 10 more?
  • What is 10 less?
  • What is 100 more?

We played a few times and then tried a few different extension ideas for this activity.

  • Starting at where the polar bear lands, count on by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 100’s.
  • Start out by saying “We’ll add 100 to the number where your bear lands.” Then, practice counting backwards by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, and 100’s.
  • Use two polar bear crafts to practice single and double digit adding and subtracting.
Make a polar bear craft with craft pom poms and use it in a polar bear game in therapy interventions or the classroom.

This polar bear game would be a great way to work on aspects of numbers with a hands-on approach to learning. Use it along with this Snowman Math-Composing and Decomposing Numbers activity.

Polar Bear Sensory Activity

This activity doubles as a polar bear sensory activity as it offers oral motor skills work. By blowing the straw to move the craft pom poms, children experience proprioceptive input through their mouth and cheeks. This sensory input is calming and can be a regulating tool to help kids focus following the heavy work through their mouth.

Using the straw to blow the polar bear across the table requires some “oomph” because of the weight of the crafting pom poms.  Blowing through a straw is a great way to provide proprioception through a winter-themed oral motor activity. This is a fun activity for sensory seekers, kids who seek out oral motor input, and children who tend to fidget during learning or homework.  

Check out our January Occupational Therapy calendar for more winter-themed sensory activities. 

Challenge oral motor skills with proprioceptive input through the mouth using this straw and cotton ball polar bear craft.

Polar Bear Therapy Activities

If blowing the straw requires too much effort for your child, or you would like to try a fine motor activity, practice flicking the polar bear across the table. Keeping the bear on the table requires precision of fine motor skills, making it another way to use the polar bear craft in therapy and hands-on learning.

Additional polar bear therapy ideas include:

Use this polar bear gross motor activity to work on balance, motor planning, movement changes, and strengthening.

This polar bear science activity challenges fine motor skills.

Use polar bear crafts, pencil control sheets, scissor skills challenges, and more in the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

This Polar Bear Food Chains activity focuses on handwriting.

This Polar Animals Facts Game and this Polar Animals True or False? activity challenges executive functioning skills and scissor skills. 

This Polar Bear Footprint Multiplication activity builds hand strength, arch development, grasp, and coordination.

This Polar Animal Pattern Activity for First Grade focuses on visual perceptual skills. 

This Arctic Animals Sight Words Game develops visual perceptual skills.

For some penguin fun, this Penguin Art Project inspires fine motor development with a penguin craft. This Penguin Addition to 100 with Hundreds Chart builds eye hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.


winter fine motor kit

These reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

Play Dough Roll Mats- Use the 6 play dough mats to develop fine motor skills and hand strength needed for tasks like coloring with endurance, manipulating small items, and holding a pencil. Kids can roll small balls of play dough with just their fingertips to strengthen the intrinsic muscles.

Pinch and Grip Strength Activities- Challenge fine motor skills with polar bear and winter themed glue skills page, tong/tweezer activities, lacing cards, finger puppets, 1-10 counting clip cards, 10 toothpick art pages, find & color page, 5 crumble art pages. 

Pencil Control Worksheets- Connect the arctic animals or winter items and stay on the pencil path lines while mastering pencil control.

Arctic Animal Cutting Strips and Scissor Skills Sheets- Work on scissor skills to cut along lines to reach the arctic animal friends or snowflakes, snowmen, and mittens. This is a great way to strengthen the motor and visual skills needed for cutting with scissors.  

Handwriting Sensory Bin Materials- You and the kiddos will love these A-Z uppercase and lowercase tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 tracing cards with directional arrows, 1-10 counting cards. 

“I Spy” Modified Paper- Includes: Color and find objects in two themes: winter items and arctic animals; 3 styles of modified paper for each theme: single rule bold lines, double rule bold lines, highlighted double rule. 

Fine Motor Handwriting Sheets- Try the 4 Find/Color/Copy pages in different styles of modified paper, rainbow writing pages in 3 styles of modified paper.

Write the Room Activities- Using a winter theme, these Write the Room cards includes: 5 lowercase copy cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 5 lowercase tracing cards, 5 uppercase copy cards, 6 cursive writing copy cards, 2 styles of writing pages.

Get the Winter Fine Motor Kit Here.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Polar Bear Gross Motor Activities

polar bear gross motor activities

 We are continuing with our Polar Bear Theme with all kinds of play ideas.  Check out the polar bear gross motor activities listed here and challenge kids to move, and develop coordination, balance, direction changes, movement patterns, core strength, stability, and more. These polar bear activities go well with our polar bear gross motor virtual therapy slide deck, too, so you’ll want to check that out as well. Add gross motor play to your winter line-up!

polar bear gross motor activities

Polar Bear Gross Motor Activity

For this gross motor activity, you’ll need masking tape, some couch cushions, and other small items (cotton batting, polar bear figures, or other materials can be used).

Start by creating a path with the masking tape. We made a zig zag path across the room, but the options are limitless here.

The masking tape path is perfect for polar bear crawls, toe walking, walking backwards, and knee walking. 

indoor obstacle course ideas with masking tape obstacle course

Masking Tape Balance Beam Ideas

Once the masking tape is positioned on the floor, there are so many ways to use this in therapy in a classroom, hallway, clinic, or therapy at home activity.

I put a couple of pillows at the end to make a “snow pile” for the polar bears.  Your kids can jump or hop into the pillows, or use them as balance challenges.

We put some cotton batting along the path that the kids had to bend and stoop to grasp using one hand or the other. Then, they had to transport the “snow” to the other end of the path.

Polar bear gross motor obstacle course

A balance beam is so great for gross motor skills including coordination and balance.  You can start with normal toe to heel steps, and then increase the balance and coordination needed by asking your child to take bigger steps, side steps, backward steps, tip toe, go fast/slow.

Polar bear gross motor activity for therapy at home or in a clinic.

Kids can hold an object and transport it from one end of the path to the other. Ask them to hold the item in their hands, on their head, on their toes, or on their back as they bear walk. Objects can be large or small, heavy or light.

Use couch pillows as pretend ice blocks for the polar bears.

Use tongs and a small plastic ice cube to incorporate fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination skills. You can place buckets or bins along the path for obstacles to place the small objects in while challenging core strength, motor planning, and movement changes.

Add buckets or cones along the path for children to step over or hop over. If cones aren’t available, just use couch throw cushions as an obstacle.

Add a big duvet blanket or other large blanket at one end or both ends as a DIY crash pad for heavy work and proprioceptive input. Crawling into and under the heavy blanket offers heavy work, and that blanket makes a great “igloo” for your little polar bear.

Advance the motor planning and core development by asking kids to stand along the path as they try to catch/toss a ball, navigate turns, curves, hop…There is so much you can do with the masking tape balance beam!  Add more fine motor skill work by using paper snowflakes along the balance beam.

Challenge kids in a masking tape obstacle course with a polar bear theme.

Use a polar bear sensory bin along the path to challenge kids to transport items from one end of the path and to place them into the sensory bin. This is a fantastic occupational therapy or physical therapy intervention that challenges so many skills.

Use masking tape to make an obstacle course in the living room, with a polar bear theme or other animal walks.


For more polar bear gross motor activities, (and fine motor work), grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. There are sensory bin materials, crafts, and activities designed to boost fine motor skills. These would be great additions to a polar bear gross motor theme in therapy sessions.

Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.


winter fine motor kit

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.