Purple Waterbead Sensory Bin

Purple water beads in a container with cookie cutters and hands reaching into the bin. Text reads purple sensory bin

This purple sensory bin is a fun way to explore the color purple using one of our favorite sensory play materials: a water bead sensory bin! While this is a very old post on our blog (circa 2013), we still love the mesmerizing impact of a color themed sensory play activity. Plus, if you are looking for more fun ways to extend the play, check out our water bead activities!

Purple sensory bin

Purple Sensory Bin

A purple themed sensory bin has many benefits beyond exploring the color purple. Of course, you could make a color themed sensory bin based around any color and gain so many benefits:

  1. Tactile sensory experience- Targeting tactile discrimination and tactile exploration is one of the main skills that are address with a sensory bin. You can address various aspects of tactile defensiveness through engaging and motivating play.
  2. Motor Skills- Using a scoop or spoon to move and manipulate the sensory bin items builds skills in motor planning, dexterity, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, and more. Check out all of the benefits of scooping and pouring activities.
  3. Social Emotional Skills- Playing in a sensory bin like our purple sensory activity is an engaging activity that fosters group play (parallel play) and encouraging peer interaction by borrowing tools, working together. Engaging in a new situation is an excellent way to foster communication, cooperation, and other social emotional skills. Here are more social skills activities kids love.

How to set up a purple sensory bin

In our colorful sensory bin, we gathered just a few items from around the home:

  • Large storage bin
  • Purple water beads
  • Purple cookie cutters
  • Purple scoops and bowls

You could use other sensory bin base materials with a certain color theme such as:

  • Shredded paper
  • Colored sand
  • Dyed beans
  • Dyed rice

Add a few spoons, cups, and manipulative items, and you are ready to go!

purple sensory bin
This was a fun and easy little sensory bin to put together.  Someone (cough, Big Sister, cough) threw some bath water colors into the bin of blue water beads we had out.  They absorbed the color reeeeally fast.  And are VERY vivid in their new purple hue.
I found a few purple bracelets and cookie cutters, and a few other purple things, and voila!
Purple Sensory Bin fun!
I’m not sure why, but every time we do water bead or corn bin sensory play, Little Guy goes into the kitchen and grabs my whisk and whatever other utensils look right.  So, now Baby Girl does the same thing.  I guess it’s just fun to mix and stir when you’re playing with a sensory bin!
Have you done a water bead sensory bin? 

Invitation to Scoop and Pour

Scooping and Pouring for Toddlers and Preschoolers

is such a great fine motor and visual perceptual activity for little ones.  Not to mention the neat pinging sound you get when pouring grains of corn onto a metal tray 🙂
Toddlers who are learning to control the spoon during eating, scooping food with a spoon, and using  controlled motions to bring food to their mouth benefit from an activity like scooping corn.  A child with poor muscle control would benefit from different modifications to this activity: different sized scoops/spoons, lighter or heavier objects to scoop (sand, rice, beans, crafting pom poms, cotton balls…)

I had a set of these orange bowls and spoons sitting around and they worked great to scoop, pour, and dump corn.  Baby Girl was occupied with this activity for a looooong time.
Pouring from a pitcher with something like corn is perfect play practice for the real world task of pouring drinks from a water pitcher.  Preschoolers often do this in a preschool setting at snack time, and pouring drinks for their friends is fun!  I’ve seen Big Sister glow with excitement when I have her pour water for us at lunch time here.  You can see her self-confidence growing!
Pouring materials from a pitcher is also a great activity to work on bilateral coordination, visual perceptual skills (stop pouring before you overflow the cup!)
Baby Girl watched Big Sister fill the pitcher with corn and pour corn into the muffin tins.  (We were making “cupcakes” for Daddy!) Baby Girl then had to copy and pour the corn.
Of course.  This girl does EVERYTHING the big kids do!
If you are worried about the mess, lay down a blanket first and do all of the pouring and scooping on the middle of the blanket.  You could also play in a baby pool.  Or, just head outside now that we are having some warmer weather.

Why we love scooping and pouring:

Fine Motor skill development

Visual perceptual skills

Bilateral hand coordination


Real-world practice

Sensory Play

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.

Color Matching With Play Dough

This was an easy and fun way to spend an afternoon.  And when Baby Girl woke up from her nap, she loved it too.
I put out six colors of play dough and a little bin of colored beads, paper clips, and other little things.

               Fine Motor Strengthening for kids

They had so much fun matching up the colors.  Baby Girl just loved pushing the little beads and things into the Play Dough. 
I love her little knuckle dimples 🙂
Pushing the little objects into the dough is resistive and an excellent fine motor strengthening exercise for little hands.  They are also working on their tripod grasp when they push the beads into the Dough. 
  Big Sister said we needed to wash all of the little objects after we were done.  We put all of them into a bin of water and everyone had fun swishing them around.   
 Drain them into a colander and you are good to go 🙂

Indoor Snow Play

Grasp Strengthening and Learning Colors With SNOW???

Some days, it is just HARD to get the kids dressed up in snowsuits/gloves/hats/boots/scarves…only to bring them back in 10 minutes later because the baby wants to follow the big kids, but can’t pick up her boots to walk through the snow that is up to her mid-calf…so she stands still in the yard until I  pick her up…
Today was one of those days.
We needed an activity for after baby-nap-time and before dinner-making-time and this was just the one!
I had this idea in mind since right after Christmas when we got some snow, and I wanted to dye it using eye droppers.  After looking everywhere around the house, I just can. not. find the eye droppers!  So, on to another idea…
Turkey Baster
Spray Bottle
Scoops and Spoons.

These kids were so beyond excited to see me setting this up.  They helped stir the food coloring into the bowls of water. (Get Dollar Store food coloring for projects like this!  So cheap, and it will last you many, many projects…)  But they could not guess what we were doing with it.  Once I brought the snow in, there were cheers!

 We did some mixing of colors on the snow…What does red and blue make?  We had green in the spray bottle and it was fun to change the stream to get more color on the snow.  They were pretty excited to get brown, of course 🙂

Squeezing the turkey baster bulb and the spray bottle nozzle is wonderful for grasp strengthening in hands. 

The strength of the whole had is needed for so many fine motor work in play and school based activities.

This was the extent of the mess…not too bad! They kept the tray on the right pretty clean of color mostly since that was Baby Girl’s side and she was busy eating the snow 🙂

This was a fun indoor play time for everyone!