Polar Bear Sensory Bin

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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.  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”. 

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.

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.

Use a polar bear sensory bin for occupational therapy interventions