As the days are getting hotter and my little man is developing some new skills, I wanted to create a sensory bin for indoors that was less messy than most. I love being able to open it up daily without much set up or clean up. Not only was it easy and inexpensive, but his simple bin has been in our living room for about 2 weeks with very little mess! I call that a huge win in the Lion household!


  • Large under the bed storage bin
  • Small plastic shoebox sized bin
  • 2 small bags of pinto beans
  • Spoons, measuring cups, etc for pouring and dumping

I chose pinto beans for his first sensory bin for a couple reasons. 1. they are super cheap. 2. they are large enough that if they spill they are easy to pick up by hand without requiring a broom or vacuum (unlike rice or sand). Little Lion is old enough now that he doesn’t usually put things in his mouth, but these seem safer to me than any non-food items. They are small enough to not be a choking hazard. This is always a supervised activity though, just in case.

The small bin sits inside the big bin, and this contains most of the mess. Little Lion also has to get into the big bin to play, which helps him keep his attention on what he is doing. So far there have been no big dumping episodes, and I don’t let him carry the beans outside of the designated area. When he starts to get a little crazy with the beans (throwing, dumping outside of the large bin, etc.), I shut the lid and we move on to something else. Currently his favorite way of playing is to step in the beans (it must feel pretty neat on his foot) or to use one hand to fill the measuring cup. He also is learning to scoop with a spoon, which is a necessary skill for learning to eat by himself. Eventually we will be working on pouring into a cup from a pitcher, which will help him develop the muscles he will need to pour his own milk in the future.

I love seeing how his attention span is growing. Two weeks ago he didn’t spend more than 30 seconds on this activity at a time, but now that he is improving his scooping skills, he spends up to 7 or 8 minutes playing (as long as I am sitting with him). That may not sound like much, but I see it as huge progress in the focus department!