Stay Sane: The Ultimate Winter Sensory Bin for Toddler Moms


Is your morning routine stuck in a rut? Maybe you come downstairs, flip on the TV while you get breakfast ready for your toddler and make your coffee while trying to avoid a meltdown over if you cut the waffle the right way or not. A winter sensory bin is the answer to save your sanity.

Picture this: tomorrow you avoid the meltdown, cut down on screen time and boost your child’s fine motor and alphabet skills all at once.

Sounds like a far off dream, right? What if it wasn’t? Let’s get a winter sensory bin ready together and you can see how much it transforms your morning.

Stay Sane: The Ultimate Winter Sensory Bin for Toddler Moms
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

What is a Winter Sensory Bin?

A sensory bin is a hands-on, interactive play activity that helps engage toddler in multi-sensory experiences while also developing learning skills. WOOF! That is a lot in one sentence.

To keep it simple, a sensory bin is usually some type of large container (these are a great option!) full of different materials that allow kids to explore and get messy in a contained and safe environment.

Allowing kids to have these sensory experiences promotes both sensory development and cognitive skills. It is also just plain FUN, especially for toddler and preschool aged kids!

Through tactile exploration, kids can work on fine motor skill development and cognitive skills, such as sorting, letters or numbers, without even knowing they are learning.

These activities will absorb your toddler’s attention, giving you free time to make breakfast, do dishes, catch up with a friend, or whatever it is that makes you feel like you again.

What to Put in a Winter Sensory Bin:

My FAVORITE winter sensory bin has the following items in it:

There are SO MANY other options for your sensory bins, and no solution is the wrong one. These are simply our favorites.

How to Introduce the Winter Sensory Bin to Your Toddler:

Sensory bins can be used at any time during the day, however, I like to set mine up so that when my toddlers come downstairs, they can walk right up and get started.

Think of this like morning work at school, but at home.

The first time we do a new bin, I sit with my kiddos and make sure they know how to do the activity. In this case, I want to make sure they understand that each popsicle piece has a cover with a letter that matches the beginning sound of the picture.

What Your Child Will Be Learning With This Winter Sensory Bin:

For this bin in particular, the MAIN component are the Learning Resources ABC Pops. The goal of these alphabet popsicles is to help kids start learning uppercase letter recognition and beginning sounds.

I have two toddlers: a 2 year old and a 3 year old.

My 2 year old simply works on matching the color of the popsicle to the color of the cover. Then, she will “read” or say out loud what is on the popsicle. This is a great intro to beginning sound and a review on colors and matching.

My 4 year old is working on letter sounds. He will get all the rest of the popsicles, and matches the uppercase letter to the correct image. He also practices saying the word out loud, as this helps him match the uppercase letter to the beginning sounds.

How Long to Use the Winter Sensory Bin:

Typically, I keep the same sensor bin for about a week before my kiddos start losing interest.

Since I have multiple toddlers, I can also have two different ones at the same time and switch them so that it keeps them fresh and new. This could also be done with one child, if you just want to have options.

When kids get bored of the main activity, in this case the ABC pops, I will just change out our fine motor tools and the main activity. Some of my other favorite tools to include in the winter sensory bins are:

We use the popsicles all year long, but I rotate them so they only see them every few weeks. This keeps it fresh each time we pull them out. We are huge believers in keeping our playtime simple and limiting options, but rotating toys so that we don’t get bored of toys.

Having Realistic Expectations and Following Your Toddler’s Lead

Wouldn’t it be nice if we set this up and our kids played with it for the entire day without interrupting you once?

Unfortunately, this is not a babysitter. It IS a great way for your child to work on some great cognitive and fine motor skills independently, however, you are going to have to put in some work to get there.

The first time you use the winter sensory bin, be sure to carve out some time to do it WITH your toddler. Once you have done a few sensory bins, you will find you spend less and less time sitting with them, even on that first occasion.

Also, don’t force your toddler to do an activity they aren’t interested in. You might think something is going to be GREAT for your toddler, only to find out that they aren’t actually that into it. And that is okay.

Our two year old daughter has much less stamina than our four year old son, and that’s okay. Also, when they are done, we don’t push it. We put it away until tomorrow (or later that day if they ask for it) and we move on.

Afraid of the Mess?

If you are afraid of messes, this activity might not be for you. The snow can be flaky depending on what brand you get.

You can try a different filler, such as fun poms or rice, but most sensory bins can cause a bit of a mess if kids are left unattended.

If you set clear expectations with your toddler from the get-go, they should be able to avoid the mess.

Even our high-energy, spirited two year old has been able to do sensory bins for almost a year now.


Please let me know what questions you have! Do you have more ideas for winter sensory bins? Drop them in the comments below for everyone to use!

Grab Everything You Need for the Winter Sensory Bins Above:

Emily - The Mountain Teacher

Share your thoughts...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *