Christmas Sensory Bin | Still Playing School

Christmas Sensory Bin

'Tis the season for a Christmas themed sensory bin! We played a search and find game to add extra fine motor practice to our holiday sensory play.

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You're going to want to fill the bin with lots of different objects to spot and find for this sensory game. I love all the irresistible holiday themed odds and ends available at this time of year. 

We mixed in Christmas erasersfestive foam shapes, tiny presents, and scrapbooking brads. We've been working on our collection for years but you could ask family and friends to donate or check craft, thrift, and dollar stores when they are stocked for the season. The possibilities are endless!

Our preschooler couldn't wait to find the goodies hidden in this bin. Our red and green filler makes it extra seasonal and irresistible. (I'll explain how we make it in a bit. It's by far our favorite sensory bin material!)  

Sensory bins are a favorite in early childhood classrooms and homes because they naturally provide and inspire fine motor work. With a few tools, kids will spend hours scooping, pouring, picking out items, and digging through the materials. 

Your children will be more engaged if you occasionally join in the play. On the second day of exploring this bin, I challenged our preschooler to find certain pieces I named. "Can you find more red or white presents?" She counted as she sorted which was excellent math practice too. 

I keep our sensory bins in low containers with lids. They are easy to slide under a table or bed when we're not using them. When they are easily accessible we are more likely to use them regularly. Some days I use this as a bonding time as we play side by side but other days I get the bin out, present a challenge, then get a bit of work done before checking back in to reconnect. If you have more than one child you'll find that the kids inspire and encourage each other to explore the bin in new ways as well. 

Ideas for Search and Find Sensory Bin play:

- With only your eyes, play I Spy. "Does everyone see a Christmas tree? When I say go, grab one!"

- With a partner, take turns burying and finding a particular item in the bin. "Where is the gingerbread man?"

- Once familiar with the items in the bin, try a tactile identification game. One player closes their eyes while the other person puts an object into their hands. "By touch alone, can you tell what you're holding?" Feeling a tiny object so carefully really works fine motor muscles!

Now I need to fill you in on the details of our favorite unique sensory material. The red pieces in this Christmas bin are dyed acini de pepe pasta! We color it with gel food coloring and a bit of vinegar in a bowl then let it air dry in a thin layer. 

We've used it in small world play and our colorful rainbow sensory bin. For this Christmas version, we mixed red pasta with green lentils to mimic the look of holly and berries!

Our favorite part of this sensory material is when the colored pasta dries it sticks together in chunks. The first fine motor task is to break apart the pasta with our hands. It is always irresistibly fun!

The lentils and dried pasta store well so you can reuse year after year. We keep the contents in a plastic container in our garage when it's not Christmas.

Check out this week's other Fine Motor Friday posts:

Fine Motor Christmas Tree Sewing Activity from Craftulate

Paperclip Candy Canes from School Time Snippets

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  1. Oh I love the Acini de Pepe!! It looks great. I also love all the games you guys played! Such a fun sensory bin!

  2. Woah that pasta looks awesome, it looks just like floam! I love that you made up a game together to extend the fun!

  3. This is fantastic! I have all the materials to try a Christmas sensory bin like this but never would have thought of using the pasta!! Pinning!