7 Simple Sensory Box Ideas

Have you heard of sensory boxes? Have you ever used them with your kids? Creative blogger Amy Louise outlines 7 simple sensory box ideas to get you started.

What is a Sensory Box?

Sensory boxes/tubs/bins as you may see or hear them called, are absolutely FANTASTIC!  They provide hands on learning that is both visually and texturally attractive. They are a great starting point if you have never gone out of your way to provide sensory rich opportunities before.

What are the benefits of Sensory Boxes?

  • They don’t take too much preparation.
  • They don’t cost much to make.
  • They don’t take up much room.
  • The materials are mainly contained so ‘mess’ is minimal.
  • They provide many learning opportunities that keep children and adults entertained and interested for longer than 5 minutes.
  • Exploring sensory boxes allows children and adults to not only receive the sensory stimulation, but they are learning about cause and effect, developing their fine motor skills, engaging their imagination and creativity. There are opportunities for problem solving, decision making and can boost confidence and self esteem along with many other skills.
  • They are a fantastic addition to topic work and also tailoring them to suit the interests and age stages of the children in your care.

What do you need to make a sensory box?

1. Theme

To begin with you need to decide on a theme so you can select and decide on your objects.
Your sensory box can be themed to literally anything – examples include :

Colours, Seasons, Holidays
Places, Animals, Habitats
Interests, Characters, Shapes
Textures, Gardening, Patterns
Sorting, A film, A Programme

2. Container

I use under bed storage boxes for mine which are very handy! They are a good size, easy to access, easy to clean, and trasnparent. They come with a lid too to help keep the contents in the box, clean and to keep pets out!

3. Variety of items to stimulate the senses.

Examples inlcude rice, pasta, scents, water beads, glitter, textured objects linked to your theme, tinsel, sticks, shells etc

Note : If you are a parent, child care setting, child minder etc who is looking for more information with regards to potential learning outcomes for providing sensory boxes – read this post, which contains all possible learning outcomes from the EYFS.

Important Information

I would just like to add that it is paramount that you consider the age and stage of your children and the suitability of the items you include in your boxes. Make sure that all items are suitable to reduce risks and remember to always take into account any allergies your children may have.

1. Christmas Sensory Box

Christmas Sensory box

Method/Content :

  1. You will need 3 bags of supermarket rice,  and one bottle of green food colouring.
  2. Pour the rice into a large mixing bowl, one bag at a time, and add a small amount of colouring into the bowl. Stir, working the colouring through the rice and adding more as required. Older children will enjoy helping with this
  3. Leave the rice to dry completely on trays- stir the rice at 30-60min intervals to ensure all rice drys completely.
  4. Once dry, pour it into the boxes to make base.
  5. Add various interesting materials – I used :
  • Candy Sticks – which smelt divine
  • A small red, sparkling Christmas tree
  • Glittered white snow flakes
  • Shiny Baubles
  • Prickly Tinsel
  • Noisy Beads
  • Metallic Wrapping Bows
  • Coloured stacking cups at the sides of the box to allow the user to collect the objects, scoop the base and pour.

How My Child Played with Box

Little N was very interested in the Christmas Tree once we put it up in our living room – this sensory box came in so handy as every time she went to pull anything off the tree I was able to get the sensory box out and she was free to explore. Here’s how she played with it :

  • She turned the Christmas tree upside down in the box and used the stacking cups to fill the tree up.
  • She enjoyed smelling the candy canes and putting the baubles into containers.
  • I offered a range of containers to the side of the box which she happily selected independently and transferred and transported here, there and everywhere.
  • She also liked the sounds the beads made as they clanged against the sides of the box as she attempted to pull them out. She held the glittery snow flakes in her hands and paused taking in how they looked and felt.

Once Christmas is over throw the rice away and store all the other bits for next year.

You may also like Winter Bucket List for Toddlers


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Jennifer, our Editor, has 1 son and admits to munching a Cadbury’s Turkish Delight now and again.