Yay! Winter is here! As much as I love being cozy inside, sometimes it’s rough to not take my toddler outside as much as I do when it’s warmer.
Luckily, I have my house stocked full of sensory bins for her that keep her engaged and learning about winter. In this post, I’m going to share my favorite winter sensory bin ideas.
How to Use Sensory Bins
Read my top tips for starting sensory bins with kids! Find it here.
Winter Sensory Bin Fillers
There are so many sensory bin fillers that can make a winter wonderland for your learners. Some are simple and some take just a little bit of effort. These are great for when you just want a child to explore as well as when they’re interacting with structured content (except water and shaving cream, haha).
- Cotton balls
- White rice
- White pom poms
- Blue pom poms
- Dyed blue rice
- Dyed blue water
- Shaving cream
- Fake snow
Simple Winter Sensory Bin Activities
- Scooping filling into cups
- Moving filling into a bowl
- Adding crafting snowflakes
- Adding arctic animal toys
- Adding winter cookie cutters
- Tweezers to move filling
- Adding pine tree toys
- Explore the after Christmas sales and see what decor can be added to your sensory bins
- Add winter movie toys
- Matching winter things that go together
- Matching winter pictures
Truthfully, if you add something that looks “wintery”, your learner is imaginative enough to explore and make the sensory bin fun.
Winter Math Sensory Bin Activities
- Measuring filling into different measurement tools
- Complete a recipe (soup, hot chocolate, etc.)
- Adding pattern blocks and learner goes on a scavenger hunt
- Sorting colors
- “Feeding a winter animal” by placing a number of filling pieces or scoops into its mouth
- Matching numbers to words
- Matching mitten and snowball shapes
- Matching quilt shapes
Winter Literacy Sensory Bin Activities
Unstructured Sensory Play
Unstructured play is a wonderful way for children to explore freely. Oftentimes, I will make a sensory bin for my toddler, hand it over to her, and let her play. Sometimes, I’ll leave her alone and listen in. She’ll make the objects talk to one another, she’ll use winter language, and she’ll play like she’s really in a winter scene.
Sometimes, I’ll ask her leading questions. Questions like, “What do you see?” “What does that feel like?” “What is the [winter toy/object] doing?”.
If I’m involved in the sensory bin activity, I am asking questions in a way where I am the learner, and she is the instructor. She tells me what’s going on and how she is exploring her sensory bin.
With the literacy and math sensory bin activities, I will introduce the content as unstructured play to my toddler. I hand her the activity and see what she does. I ask what she notices, what she’s doing, and ask her what the objects are in order to encourage her vocabulary development.
The next day, after the initial introduction, I giver her the activity again and explain the goal of the game. I show her how to play, take turns with her, and then let her play on her own.
Tips for Toddlers
It’s important that a young child has a good mix of unstructured and structured play. For toddlers, they should be having more unstructured play.
I offer sensory bins without literacy and math activities several times a week. I know my toddler’s still learning because she’s scooping, wondering how objects can fill in other objects, using her imagination to play with the toys, and speaking using winter vocabulary.
Tips for Elementary Students
Before giving a student a sensory bin, I let them free-play with the filling so they’re not new to the manipulatives. I will definitely teach a lesson on the given skill before giving the student the sensory bin.
When introducing the sensory bin, I model how to do the activity and am sure to lay out expectations. Sensory bins can be messy, but they really shouldn’t be wrecking the area when kids are mid-kindergarten and above.
These winter sensory bin ideas should get you through those cold, dreary months while giving your learners the ability to learn and play according to the season.
Have any other sensory bin ideas? Let me know in the comments!