I Spy Sensory Bin

I Spy Sensory Bin:  Coloured Rice, and an assortment of odds and ends from the craft room and toy room provides hours of entertainment and learning for toddlers and preschoolers!

Kids love to play I SPY, and they love a good sensory bin, don’t they?  Today, we’ve combined these two favourite kids’ activities into one with this I Spy Sensory Bin!  The inspiration for this bin came from the brilliant  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Sensory Bin that I spotted recently over at Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes. Thanks for the great idea, Sandi!

I spy Sensory Bin


Rainbow Rice base:

For a base in our I Spy Bin, I used our Homemade Rainbow Rice.   Making coloured rice is super-quick and easy.  We use a mess-free, kid-friendly method to make ours.  Get the recipe for our Rainbow Rice here.

As for the goodies in the bin, I collected odds and ends from our toy room and craft cupboards.

I Spy Bin - a sensory treasure hunt


What did we put in our I Spy sensory bin?

small items and coloured rice in a sensory bin

Anything goes really.  Just have a look around, and collect small colourful objects that you think your child would enjoy exploring.

Tools and instruments for a sensory bin:

instruments for scooping and sorting

  • scoops
  • small spoons
  •  tweezers
  • tongs
  • Meat Ball Scoop (always the most popular tool in the bin)
  • glass jars
  • coloured cups and bowls
  • ice-cube trays
  • muffin tins
  • sectioned trays (I love re-using the plastic trays that chocolates and cookies come packaged in)

use plastic chocolate and cookie trays for sorting

 Dig in!

That’s all there is to it.  Now invite your child to explore and discover the contents of the bin.


The hooligans have spent hours scooping, pouring and sifting through the rice.

A sensory bin is a great fine motor activity.  Using small spoons, scoops tweezers and tongs encourage muscle development, and help prepare a child for holding a pencil or scissors.

child transferring 2 glass bead on a small spoon

A sensory bin also helps develop math and counting skills children sort and group items ms into the bowls and containers.

recycled, sectioned cookie tray for sorting items

And above all, it’s just a whole lot of fun to dig your hands into a bin like this. The feel and sound of the rice, and the vibrant colours are so inviting.  The hooligans spent hours and hours playing with this one throughout the month of September.

What do you say?  Will you give an I Spy Bin a try?

child scooping rice from I Spy bin into a sectioned bowl



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11 comments to I Spy Sensory Bin

  • What fun! There are so many wonderful treasures in this bin.

  • What a wonderful bin. I need to keep my eyes open for a meat ball scoop – and I love your idea of using chocolate and cookie plastic trays in the bins. (And thanks for the shout out and link).

  • I always re-use our take-out food containers for activities with my tot, but I never thought about the chocolate/cookie trays. Thanks for a great idea! And I think I’ll have to try my hand at that rainbow rice sometime in the near future. I’ve just started to use sensory bins more regularly, so I’m testing out different fillers.

  • Ah! The cookie trays, so smart! This looks so fun, even I would want to spy stuff!

  • Geraldine Doran

    This looks beautiful:) I just set up our first Sensory Bin for Halloween which was inspired by your site! So much learning & fun from it. It was particularly rewarding for me to see a child who has a language receptive issue get so much learning from this as he is more of a ‘visual’ learner. Thanks for the inspiration & I can’t wait to get started on this one.

  • We put together a fun sensory tub filled with real baking materials for some imaginative play and learning!

  • Mandi

    The children love Sensory scavenging, but they make such a mess, the rice goes everywhere. I have tried it in a wide storage box, an aluminum roasting tray, a deep storage box, what should I use?

    • happyhooligans

      I’d go for the largest under the bed store container you can find, Mandi, and place it on a plastic table cloth so you can pour the spills back in to the bin when they’re finished playing.

  • Jude

    You could extend this activity by putting heaps of rice in and hiding things in it so children could find them.

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Happy Hooligans for kids crafts and activities from toddlers to preschoolers

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