3 simple toddler sensory bins using rolled oats. Good messy fun!
Sensory bins. Yes, they can be messy, but WOW, do toddlers love them!
My favourite toddler sensory bins at the moment involve using oats. My toddler still tries to eat most things in sight, so I really like to use oats in our sensory bins as I know they’re safe to play with.
Oats have such a great texture and little ones seem to love putting their hands in and exploring.
Clean up for this type of bin is not too bad either – a dustpan and brush will do the trick. (Mind you, even with a lot of sweeping I am still constantly finding rolled oats everywhere. I’m afraid visitors to my house must think I’ve taken up some crazy work-at-home gig making muesli.)
If you fancy creating a quick and fun sensory activity for your toddler, I am going to share our 3 favourite oat-based sensory bins. Each one is really simple, but most definitely toddler-approved.
Please make sure than any items you use in a sensory bin are large enough not to pose a choking hazard to your child. As with all toddler activities, adult supervision is required.
Containers for oat sensory bins
Just a word before we start about our sensory bin container. The one we are using here is a 9 litre Really Useful Box with lid.
This one’s a great size as it’s big enough to be able to fit enough oats in, but not so massive that you need bags and bags of oats to fill it. It’s also deep enough to be able to completely hide objects in (which we need for the first bin with the animals – see below!).
Having a lid with clips has also been great as when it’s time to wrap things up, I simply clip the lid onto the box knowing that little hands can’t easily get it off again.
To fill this container, I used three 1kg bags of oats. Each bag cost around $2.50.
Bin 1 – Animal figures
For this toddler sensory bin, all you need are some small animal figures.
I got a couple of packets of animal figures for this activity from our local dollar store – one lot of farm animals and one lot of wild animals. (Plus, a small T-rex seems to have also muscled in on the action and joined our oat bin party. He appears to be pretty harmless so we let him stay). The animal figures are plastic and each one is around 2 inches in length.
To start with, I hid all the animals in the oats and squished them all down so none were visible.
My toddler then had a great time digging into the tub of oats and pulling out all the creatures. As my toddler pulled out each animal, we said its name and practiced making its animal sound (with the exception of a few. What sound does a zebra make? Camels, anybody? Needless to say, there was some improvising going on…).
Next, we introduced some plastic scoops and my toddler had fun scooping up the animals and transferring them to a nearby bowl like so:
Bin 2 – Straws
For our next oat sensory bin, we introduced some plastic drinking straws. I cut a small handful of straws up into lengths of about 2 inches.
You can play with these in lots of different ways. I started by poking all the straws into the oats so that my toddler could pull them all out again.
Once all the straws were out, my toddler then enjoyed poking all the straws back in so the straws were standing up again.
The next thing we did involved a bit of colour recognition and colour matching. The straws we used for this activity were 5 different colours. We chose a colour, and then we pulled out all the other straws of that colour in the bin. Then we did the same things for the remaining 4 colours.
As a final activity with the straws (I actually found this SO enjoyable..), we used a piece of straw as a pencil and drew shapes and pictures in the oats.
Bin 3 – Plastic eggs and scoops
For this last sensory bin we used small plastic eggs left over from Easter and a range of plastic scoops. The plastic eggs are made up of two halves that snap together to make a whole egg.
The first thing I did was to hide the eggs amongst the oats. Then my toddler set about finding the eggs in the oats, scooping them up and transferring them into another container. This task proved to be most fascinating and took utmost concentration.
Another really fun thing to do was to make patterns in the oats with half-eggs. My toddler pushed them into the oats as if to make mini colourful sandcastles.
Next my toddler used the egg halves to scoop up the oats and then sprinkle them out again. We tried putting the top on the eggs too so that we could use them as egg shakers and make some noise!