Now that we (finally) have the hang of this summer routine, setting up a simple summer sensory bin has been a saving grace for these long open-ended summer days. Sensory play is something I can set up quickly, giving me the most bang for my buck. You’ve come to the right place if you are looking for fresh ideas to keep water play and sensory play poppin’ this summer!
RELATED: Don’t miss out on our list of favorite summer activities for kids to stay busy, exploring and learning this summer!
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is an interactive, hands-on approach to playing. Allowing your kids to engage in sensory play is important for their development and growth because each sensation stimulates the brain for learning. This educational article from the Clevland Clinic shares more about the benefits of sensory play.
So what’s the big idea? Sensory play exposes your toddler to new experiences that widen their scope and awareness of their senses:
- Seeing (observing)
- Tasting (sometimes!)
RELATED: Not sure how to set up a sensory bin? Grab these simple sensory bin essentials on your next Target run!
Keep summertime sensory play simple.
As always, keeping things simple is best. Some of my boys’ favorite ways of playing during the summer have always been digging for worms and building sand castles. These summer sensory experiences are basic, nostalgic, and require zero set up, making them the ultimate way of summer sensory play!
BUT, when you are looking for simple summer activities for toddlers to have some outdoor summer sensory fun, there are many ways to create easy and fun outdoor summer sensory bins!
Some of the best sensory play ideas include:
Although sensory play can be messy, don’t let that keep your child from it! Introducing your kids to sensory play doesn’t always have to be messy or complicated. Keep sensory play easy, accessible and when possible — outside! Which is why sensory play in the summer is the best all around!
RELATED: Be prepared for all things sensory play in the summer with these outdoor sensory play supply must-haves!
15 summer sensory bins
The options for summer sensory bins are endless! Playing outside provides the best sensory play options for exploration when the weather allows. Invite your toddlers and big kids to play outside this summer with these fun summer sensory bin ideas!
Days with Grey participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and LTK, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon and LTK Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.
Combine colorful buttons with water, and you have one of the easiest summer sensory bins to cool your kids off. Buttons are magical to watch the water go through the holes, but small. Use your best judgment and supervision.
Flower Sensory Bin for Kids (Adventure-in-a-Box)
Send your kids out to find and collect all sorts of flowers to create the most beautiful summer sensory bin for scooping, pouring, and playing within the water.
What do you do after you make homemade lemonade? This lemon boat water bin feels exactly where I’d like to land.
For those extra hot days, dump lots of ice into your sensory bin and give your kids some squeeze bottles of watered-down paint to squirt, mix and create fun ice-colored sensory exploration!
This ocean sensory bin is a great way for your little ocean explorers to let your kids play with their sea creatures in a make-believe ocean full of water and bubble fun!
If you’ve read, Dragons Love Tacos, this is your activity. And if you didn’t read it, it is still your activity. Why? Because sticking your hands in Jell-o and washing the plastic food is fabulous.
Our new summer favorite water toy is these reusable water balloons! Fill your sensory bin with water, toss some reusable water balloons, and grab your counting bears for a fun surprise water play activity!
Bring the sand to your own backyard summer sensory bin! Pour real or kinetic sand into a sensory bin with a few spoons, measuring cups, and a muffin tin, and let your kids pour, bury and seek out little treasures.
Scented Seashell Alphabet Search Sensory Bin (Kindergarten Connection)
Set up a fun beach summer sensory bin with alphabet seashells to invite learning with letter recognition, memory, and sensory play!
Another fun way to use up all those extra limes (or any citrus you have lying around)! Combine water, limes, and a big spoon or ladle to help your toddler practice scooping, transferring, and playing in the water!
Fill your sensory bin with water, grab some ocean creatures, a ladle, and a cute little treasure chest (or bowl), and invite your toddler to scoop, transfer, and play on a warm summer day!
This will be the yummiest and easiest summer sensory bin you will ever make! Put some strawberries (and your little one) right into the sensory bin and let them taste, smoosh and play with strawberries as much as their little hearts desire! This is a perfect summer sensory bin activity for your littlest ones.
Tropical Summer Sensory Bin (Little Bins Little Hands)
Pour some sand and any little tropical-themed toys into a sensory bin to pour, mold, build and play with for the ultimate beach and tropical-themed summer sensory bin.
Your kids will love creating beautiful and color designs as they squirt and mix neon colors in the water in this fun summer sensory bin activity.
Stay cool with summer sensory play!
When children experience new ways of playing, it helps to build on their natural curiosities, inspires creativity, and strengthens independent playing. What more could we want for our kids?
Sensory play also offers benefits to help develop important skills:
- Emotional regulation
- Fine motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Language and communication
Summer sensory bin activities and play are the perfect way to stay cool during the summer heat! If you have hesitated to introduce your little one to sensory play, summertime is the best time to introduce and invite some sensory play into their world. Keep the mess outside with these fun summer sensory bin ideas all summer!
What will your kids DO this summer?
Take the guesswork out of your days with the Summertime Bundle.
- Startup Guide creates your summer routine.
- Activity cards have easy activities.
- The PDF calendar puts your plan in place.
Sensory play is a hands-on and interactive approach to play. It offers open-ended exploration and builds on kids’ natural curiosities while supporting independent play skills.
Summer is a great time to engage in sensory play. There are many types of sensory play, whether out in nature or simply set up in a sensory bin. Use water, ice, dirt, bubbles, and fruit to scoop and pour as your
Use a sensory table, storage bin, or large box to create a safe space to pour in any sensory materials and tools for your child to explore.