Our Five Ring Circus: Arctic Sensory Bin for Indoor Winter Sensory Play

Monday, February 10, 2020

Arctic Sensory Bin for Indoor Winter Sensory Play

Arctic Sensory Bin - Indoor Winter Sensory Play

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The calendar might say it's Winter, but Mother Nature is a bit confused! Our weather has been all over the place lately. Last Monday, it was 65 degrees and sunny, and on Friday, we woke up to 4 inches of snow. Just two days later, all the snow has melted, and it's raining and in the high 40's. No matter the weather, we decided to make the Arctic our theme for this month's sensory bins!

I'm sure you already know this, but we are big fans of sensory play here! So much that we actually have a sensory table in our living room, and allow the kids to engage in messy play. Play is such an important part of early learning, and there are so many benefits of sensory play. I would rather have my kids explore a sensory bin than sit in front of the TV or iPad!

This month, we have been talking about the Arctic and the animals that live there. Even when my kids are in school, I believe in learning within the home as well. In addition to creating an Arctic world for my kids to explore, we read books about Arctic animals (National Geographic Kids has some great options), and there are some fun documentaries on Netflix and Disney+ to help kids learn more about the Arctic!

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I have been creating sensory bins for my kids for many years! I mostly use a water table for outdoor sensory bins, and a large storage bin for indoor sensory play. I was considering purchasing a sensory play table, so I was really excited when my parents gave one to Liam for Christmas. They bought him the FLISAT table from IKEA, which seems to be a very popular option. I now understand why!

Not only does Liam love the table, but Lily and Coen love it, too! The next time I stop at IKEA, I'm going to purchase two additional FLISAT stools. We opted for the $3 storage bins that are designed to fit into the table, and I plan to buy an additional bin to turn into a very inexpensive light box. I love the table's simple design that fits in well with our living room decor, and the fact that it can also be used just as a play table or a desk!

For an additional sensory experience, I placed the table right in front of the boys' favorite window in our living room. It's a tall window that looks out into our side yard and the woods beyond it, so they can look out into the world while they sit at their table. It gets the most beautiful natural light from dawn to dusk, so I rarely need to turn on a light while they play!

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Winter Sensory Bins



  1. Prior to play, fill each ice cube slot in the tray 3/4 of the way full. Once it's almost fully frozen, place the penguins on top of each cube, then top with water. Freeze the rest of the way.
  2. While the ice cubes are freezing, measure out the water beads and add the water. Once they are formed, place them in the freezer for several hours. (I used a disposable plastic container that is almost as big as the storage bin in the table.)
  3. Mix 32 oz corn starch with about 16 oz of white conditioner in a sensory bin. Use your hands to mix, and add more corn starch or conditioner, depending on preferred consistency. You should be able to mold the "snow" but it shouldn't be too sticky.
  4. From here, the setup depends on whether you have two sensory bins like we do, or one big sensory bin. For my setup, I did "snow" with arctic animals on one side, and frozen water beads with the penguins on ice cubes (and other swimming arctic animals) on the other side. If you are using one bin, simply create a barrier between the snow and the frozen water beads with additional ice cubes. 
FLISAT Children's Table IKEA

Play Ideas

This bin is all about touch and play! The arctic animals add an additional level of imaginative play, the snow is super soft and fun to mold, and the frozen water beads are fun to touch. For extra fun, you could:

  •  Add cookie cutters to mold the snow
  • Have your child(ren) create a snowman
  • Use a sand shovel to shovel the snow into a bucket
  • Toss some toy cars/trucks into the snow
  • Use sensory bin tools, measuring cups, and spoons to scoop up and pour the frozen water beads
  • Race the ice cube penguins by sliding them across the floor or table
  • Mix the "snow" with the frozen water beads
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If your kids are sensitive to the cold, they can easily play while wearing a pair of winter gloves, but an added bonus to playing with the snow is soft hands! As always, PLEASE supervise kids under the age of 3 during sensory play! I have a baby under the age of 1, and although he loves sensory play, he does like to explore with his mouth, too.

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Although we swapped our winter gear for rain gear already. we have been having so much fun learning about the arctic, and exploring our small arctic world! Sensory play (especially messy play) makes my kids happy!

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Do your kids like sensory play? Share your favorite sensory play activity or themed bin in the comments below!

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Arctic Sensory Bin for Indoor Winter Sensory Play

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1 comment:

  1. These are so cute! Love the theme.



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