3 Rainbow Sensory Bins

rainbow sensory bins

Kids LOVE rainbow sensory bins! These rainbow sensory bin ideas are some of our absolute favorite sensory bins, and they are the perfect addition to our rainbow activities, rainbow crafts, and a rainbow theme in therapy. Be sure to use our rainbow breathing exercise, too. Let’s talk rainbow sensory play!

Rainbow sensory bins

A sensory bin is a container filled with materials that are designed to engage children’s senses and encourage exploration and play. They can be as easy or as complicated as you like, but the concept is the same- sensory based, tactile play with a theme or play idea with items to manipulate and explore as the user explores their tactile sensory system.

These materials can include a wide range of sensory inputs such as sand, rice, beans, water, or small objects like toys, beads, and stones. Here are many sensory bin base ideas to get you started.

The goal of a sensory bin is to provide children with an opportunity to explore their senses through play. As they play with the materials, they can feel the different textures, see the different colors, and hear the different sounds they make. This can help to promote their sensory development and stimulate their curiosity and creativity.

Sensory bins are often used in early childhood education and therapy settings as a tool for sensory integration therapy, which aims to help children develop and organize their sensory systems. They can also be used at home as a fun and engaging activity for children to play and explore.

We’ve been playing with a rainbow theme alllll week around here.  These are three rainbow sensory bins that we have been exploring.


Any time that I pull out the corn bin, everyone gets very excited.  I added ribbons in different colors and some “gold coins” (aka yellow Connect Four game pieces!)

Another little sensory bin that we’ve been playing with is a simple bowl of these Fuse ‘M Beads.


I added a couple of pairs of tweezers and an ice cube tray and let them go at it!
This was a fun fine motor activity, but mostly they just loved running their hands through the beads.
Baby Girl loved exploring these little beads.
((These are really little, so if you play with these…or any little parts…keep an eye on your little ones if they tend to put things in their mouths.  Baby Girl does pretty well and won’t put things like this in her mouth.))


This last sensory bin used the Fuse ‘M Beads again.  The next day, I put the beads and some cotton balls (clouds) into a big ol’ bowl and added a melon baller and kitchen tongs. 
More fine motor skills and sensory play combined into one colorful activity!


We hope you get some good ideas from these sensory bins.  have you done any fun sensory bins recently?
If you are setting up a rainbow sensory bin, be sure to grab a copy of our colors handwriting kit. There are many items in the printable kit that can be used in a sensory bin to challenge letter writing. It’s a great colorful addition to rainbow play!
Colors Handwriting Kit

Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

  • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
  • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
  • Colors Roll & Write Page
  • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
  • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
  • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
  • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting 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.

Christmas Sorting Game

This Christmas sorting game and ornament sensory bin is perfect for toddlers during the holiday season. It’s a Christmas sensory bin idea that little ones love! Simply grab some baby-safe ornaments (plastic and soft ornaments work!) and put them into a basket on the floor for baby play during the Christmas season.

Christmas Sorting Game

This Christmas occupational therapy activity is a big hit, and it supports skill development, too.

Sort the ornaments by color. Color sorting is great for toddlers and babies.

Day 18 of  25 Days of Christmas Play….
 This busy activity is great for toddlers and babies (supervised!) for color concepts, shape and texture exploration, transferring skills, language development, and so much more!  Grab some child-friendly Christmas ornaments, a basket  or bin, and get ready for some excitement from your tot!

Christmas ornament sort learning game, perfect for a busy activity for babies and toddlers

Ornament Sorting  Basket for Toddlers

This day of play involved sorting, matching, memory, and just plain fun!
We took a few ornaments off of the tree and put them in a basket.  My little guy just loved this game because he has been trying to play with these for weeks now!  All of the ornaments on our tree are fairly kid-friendly, so I figured why not?  I picked two of each color so there could be some matching, some of the same size and some different, some smooth, and some rough.  We had to have a few sparkly too for my daughter:)
My 4 year old had fun sorting them by color and sorting them by biggest and smallest…

 We also had fun playing a game of memory. I would put a few it the basket and my daughter would take a look, then turn her head and cover her eyes while I took one away. She had to try to remember which one is missing.

It was also fun sorting them by texture, the ones on the left had sparkles and the ones on the right were smooth and shiny!  This is a great way to work on vocabulary as well as learning about textures for my little guy.  He is learning new words every day and trying his hardest to repeat.
And do babies love anything more than putting things in and out of a basket?!?
We had so much fun with this easy Christmas activity!

Find more Christmas play activities in our 25 Days of Christmas Play series

Looking for done-for you therapy activities this holiday season?

This print-and-go Christmas Therapy Kit includes no-prep, fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, visual perceptual activities…and much more… to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Christmas-themed, motor activities so you can help children develop the skills they need.

This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. You’ll find Christmas-themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more. 

Christmas Cutouts **25 Days of Christmas Play**

Day 16 of 25 Days of Christmas Play

These Christmas Cardboard Cut-outs were perfect for Gross Motor skill play.

 I put these together for a playgroup Christmas party/Little Guy’s preschool Christmas party and my kids had to make sure they worked and were fun, of course!

I am always making cardboard stuff for parties, games, play…it has gotten to the point where people just drop off cardboard at my house, knowing it will be used…so funny! 🙂

The bean bag toss is an awesome Gross Motor activity…tossing the bean bags into the targets, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, visual-perceptual-motor skills, developing body awareness,  language development, proprioceptive skills…  Bean bag toss games are used in rehab settings for people of all ages, and for good reason!  You could also use a variety of heavy or light balls/bean bags/anything to “wake up” the muscles.

This was just for fun at the parties.  Who doesn’t love to see themselves as a snowman???
We are loving all the new followers and visitors we’ve had recently.  This blog thing has been so much fun so far and we love knowing that our fun play days are inspiring you.  Thank you for your comments and continued visits.  Enjoy this holiday season and Every Day.  Today is a Gift! 

Ghost Catch Game

We have been playing a fun Halloween game recently.  We used empty milk jugs to make these friendly ghost scoops.  It was a multi-step activity…with lots of fine motor work and fun.

Ghost Catch Craft and Game
I cut the tops off of the milk jugs, keeping the handle on.  While I did that, I had Big Sister and Little Guy paint white contact paper with black washable paints.  They covered a big square, painting the whole thing black.  Little Guy said he was making “tracks” with his paint brush in the paint. We let it dry for a day…
Then, Big Sister cut out shapes from the painted contact paper.  I didn’t draw circles for her.  I wanted her to work on rotating the paper, using her mind’s eye to picture the shape she wanted for eyes and mouths. 
She did pretty well!  Her ghost’s eyes are pretty similar in size and shape, and those smiley face mouths are pretty good!  She was really working those bilateral coordination skills, to hold and turn the paper, while cutting a shape she saw in her mind.

Ghost Catch Craft and Game
Figuring out how much space she had on the sheet for all of the shapes she needed for four ghosts was really great visual-spatial organization.  This is so important in handwriting.  When a writer gets to the edge of a sheet of paper while writing a sentence, she needs to be able to determine how much space is left, and if the word will fit…or decide that she better write the word on the next line of the page.  
Neatness in handwriting is very dependent on visual-spatial organization.
Big Sister and Little Guy worked together to stick the shapes onto the milk jugs.  They look pretty cute! 

 Ghost Catch Game

We have been using these ghost catchers for a ton of fun catching games…catching leaves as they fall from trees outside, catching bubbles, scooping up balls in a fun catch game, tossing bean bags into them.
Even the babies have been loving this activity.  They put toys into the ghosts and take them back out again, over and over and over….
Have you been playing any fun Halloween themed games?

Learning Red, Apples

This Apple Gross Motor Activity is the perfect way to introduce learning about the color Red and Apples this Fall with toddlers, preschoolers, and babies.  We made our own life-size apple tree (well, make that Toddler-life size!) that kids can really climb and develop gross motor skills while learning.  We’ve recently update our Toddler Play page with all of our play ideas in one place.  Your Toddler will love some of the other creative play ideas we’ve shared in the past.
Gross Motor Apple Tree activity for learning red and apples with toddlers and preschool children. Kids love this in the Fall!

Gross Motor Apple Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers

So, two days a week, I have my nephew here with us while my sister is working.  That makes a 5 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old, and 11 and 1/2 month old.  We had a Red/Apple play day one afternoon, with something for each age to love! (This post contains affiliate links.)
Even with two children in two different stages of preschool (3 y/o class and Pre-K), it is easy to supplement school lessons at home (and keep the babies occupied).  Keeping the activities PLAY makes learning fun.  They never know that you are actually teaching so many ideas (turn taking, manners, colors, handwriting, developing motor skills…& so much more)!



 This time of year, it is all about apples in preschool. My 3 year old is learning all about red, apples, and circles in his class. We pulled those concepts into our play with this fun apple tree activity.  I placed this set up on our living room floor and had the kids pick ‘apples’. We counted them as we put them into baskets.  My 5 year old loves writing when I spell out a word, and so we worked on writing the words “red”, “apple”, “circle”, and “tree”.  She was “in charge” of  simple math ideas (We have two apples in the basket. Adding one more apple makes 3 apples).


The babies loved putting the red balls into baskets, taking them back out and then putting them into a different basket.  They are learning through exploring!




We did some Gross Motor balance beam play on the “trunk” of the tree. This was a hit for all of the kids.  These babies WATCH the big kids and try their hardest to keep up!



Gross Motor Apple Tree activity for learning red and apples with toddlers and preschool children. Kids love this in the Fall!
Gross Motor skills are tasks that require the large movements of the body.  Development of gross motor movement is important for so many play skills of childhood (riding a bike, throwing and catching a ball, hopping, skipping, climbing).  Developmentally, we refine our fine motor skills after and as a result of, appropriate gross motor skills. For example: Stable shoulder girdle strength is needed to produce controlled fine motor control needed to hold the pencil and write in a small area.

Baby Apple Theme and Red Learning Activities

The big kids did a few more motor tasks including tossing the balls into the baskets.  The controlled balance needed to stand on the balance beam, while tossing the ball into the basket is really working their eye hand coordination and can be a challenge for many kids!  
(The babies had a blast carrying the baskets around).
We went on a search for red toys, keeping with the red theme. These were put into a pretzel tub that we keep to store the baby pop-beads.
Babies love to manipulate objects, explore how they can move objects…love to see what they can do to a toy (chew it, bang it, throw it…).  And then see if they can do it again!  
Baby Girl is always putting these stacking rings onto her wrist. She’ll walk all over the house with one on her wrist, just like a bracelet. My other two never did that at this age! Is she a future fashionista??? Have your babies done this???
The babies loved pulling red objects out of the bin, chewing on a few, putting them back in (…pulling them away from each another, grabbing it back with a screech…these two cousins are more like siblings…LOL)
This is a great opportunity for language development.  Say each item that baby has.  Babies, at this age, love to hear your voice in different pitches.  Describe to baby the details of a toy, pointing out interesting parts.  Talking constantly to baby truly does wonders for their language development.


We finished up with a snack of sliced apples for the big kids and applesauce for the babies.
This post was originally posted in 2012.  We’ve recently updated to share with you again!

Our favorite ways to work on gross motor skills: