Wednesday, January 26, 2022

No Mess DIY Winter Sensory Bin

Winter is in full swing and I don't know about anyone else, but my smalls are getting a bit stir crazy and are very easily bored.  Keeping them occupied has become a real challenge.

My almost 4yr old is no longer napping either, which means my few hours of afternoon quiet have gone out the window too.  As soon as my youngest goes down and I'm ready to breathe a sigh of relief, this guy's hot on my heels looking for entertainment.  
So what to do?  A No Mess DIY Winter Sensory Bin.

Sensory bins are a fantastic way to keep kids busy and stimulated, but most of the ideas I've seen = huge mess.  Fillers like beans, rice, shaving cream, actual ice/water just aren't realistic for me.  My littlest one is not quite 2yrs and she & her brother tend to drop, spill and throw just about everything (my older 3 tween/teen kids aren't much better despite my nagging). It would take me years to clean up the runoff from afew pounds of rice they'd spill around my living room while playing in a single day, let alone a full week table time.  We live in Michigan so taking things outside isn't an option right now either.  
So I came up with this quick & inexpensive way to make a fun bin that is also no-mess (cue the sound of angels for tired moms):  

Santa brought the kids a table & chairs set with a removable lid that opens to be a storage bin.  It's the perfect height for them to stand or sit at:

It was a bargain on Amazon since it included removable side bins, a reverse Duplo-style side and set of blocks too (find it here), but if you don't have something similar, a big plastic tub or storage bin works well too.

I measured the inside dimensions and then cut a piece of long white faux fur I had left in my stash to make a snowy, fluffy base (a fuzzy blanket could be used as well).

I rounded up some plastic Arctic & Antarctic animals we had in our toy bins:

I repurposed some of the yarn snowballs I'd made years ago for my Indoor Snowball Kit.  These are super simple to make (get the how-to here):

For the "ice", I wanted something they could play with that would be safe in case my daughter tried to taste them and also not be small enough to swallow.  I found some clear reusable ice cubes.  They're food safe and ideally sized.  

They have a bit of weight since they're filled with water, which also makes them feel a bit cool to the touch.  You can stack a few and they make fun sloshing sounds.  And, worst case scenario, if they somehow break a few, it's just a few tablespoons of water.  Which I can live with over an entire table full.

My smalls were wowed when they clapped eyes on it.  They loved how everything had a different texture and they could make the critter frolic, roll the snowballs and stack the ice:

Even my older kids sat down with them and played a bit.  Fun times don't have to be elaborate or expensive:)

A few items have been tossed out, but tossing them back in is so easy.  For over a week they've enjoyed it every day and requested I open it if it's closed.  And every night I just need to put the top on to clean up, no sweeping, wiping up or searching under furniture for tiny stray bits, which is SO nice.  

It's also bought me some much needed moments of quiet time and a lot less whining, which is a huge plus.  I'm planning out some other themed bin ideas to keep the good times going while we count down to spring.  Sweet wintertime relief!!    


  1. What a great idea. I remember oatmeal bins as a child but we had a tile floor that cleaned pretty easily. I love this solution. Maybe a felt forest scene for summer?

    1. Thanks! And that's a great idea. It's fun coming up with ideas and then seeing them play with them.

  2. what a great idea! I will share this with my friends with small children!

    1. Thank you & I'd love that. I'm sure I'm not the only mom who wants them to have this kind of fun (and avoid a massive mess).

  3. Oh, I just love this so much! MY kids would have loved it when they were little. Heck, I think I'd love to play with it myself! Thanks for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things party!

    1. Thanks so much Pam. I've enjoyed playing with it too - some things are fun no matter what age you are!!

  4. I wish I had little bitty ones to make this with! So cute! Thanks for sharing on Crafty Creators!

    1. It's been a joy getting to experience all the "littles" things again after a good sized time gap since my bigs were that age. They have been having just as much fun with it though, so no age limits;)

  5. This post is being featured today at Thursday Favorite Things. Congrats!


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