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Best Insect Sensory Bins

With a bug-obsessed three year old, I found that we need to have some bug-related activities that do not involve live creepy crawlies. That's where these great sensory bins come in to save this mom from having a house full of unwanted critters...

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For our bugs and insects week, we tried several different themed sensory bins. Each one was a big hit. These activities help to develop fine motor skills, sorting skills, reasoning skills, and most importantly, they will buy you 30 minutes of free time...

For each bin, we used the following materials:

  • These Learning Resources Bug counters. These bugs are a soft rubber material that is super easy to clean. We have had these for years and they have been used as outdoor toys, bath toys, pool toys, etc. and they have always cleaned up perfectly. More importantly, they are seemingly indestructible and we haven't had to "retire" a single one yet. 

  • This bin is THE BEST sensory bin ever. It looks like the bins they use at the airport to hold luggage and personal items as they go through security. In my opinion, it is the perfect size for two kids to use at once, without being so big that it is difficult to fill. We use this 4.6 gallon size, but they also offer a 7 gallon option. Best part is its only $10!!

The other materials we used for these bins were:

  • Rice

  • Green Food Coloring

  • Spaghetti

  • Cornstarch

  • Magnifying glass (you can usually find these at the dollar store, or you can purchase one here)

  • Giant Tweezers (this is another common dollar store item, but you can purchase one here)

Bugs in a Spider Web Sensory Bin

This was a fun spin on the traditional sensory bin. I tied this yarn around some holes in the top of the bin and challenged my toddler to rescue the bugs from the “spider web.” It took him a little while to get the hang of it. I actually used this container for this sensory bin, but you can just as easily use any bin and wrap the yarn around the entire container.

The dyed rice is totally optional, but super easy. Just add some rice, a few drops of food coloring, and a teaspoon of white vinegar to a ziplock or Tupperware and shake! Lay it out to dry on a tray before use, or you will end up with dye all over... Ask me how I know :)

Bugs in the Grass Sensory Bin

My son was equal parts interested and grossed out by the green spaghetti! It definitely kept his attention. I was more difficult to grab the bugs out of the spaghetti, which made it more challenging. I laid out colored paper and had him match the bugs to the proper color.

I let him run with his creativity, and he decided to cut the spaghetti using his safety scissors. This is another fantastic fine motor activity. I wish I would have thought of it myself...

Dying spaghetti is surprisingly simple. Just follow the directions on the package to cook and drain the spaghetti. Once it has cooled a bit, place the spaghetti in a ziplock bag and add food coloring. Mush the spaghetti around until it is well coated and let it rest for a few minutes. Voila! Green spaghetti grass.

Bugs in the Ooze Sensory Bin

I was introduced to ooblek ooze earlier this year. This sort-of solid, sort-of liquid mixture is a fun activity on its own, but it was also perfect for this fine motor activity.

To make the ooze, mix a 2:1 ratio of cornstarch to water to fit whatever container you're using. You really can't screw this up -- if its too soupy, just add more cornstarch.

When they were done with this, I gave them some wooden sticks and food coloring to make some ooblek ooze art!

Hope you enjoy these activities!

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