• Sarah Caughron

Tub-of-Beans Sensory Play

This one is a classic! It's good, old-fashioned bean sensory play.


Note: Some of this content originally appeared on a website I developed and managed in 2015. Photos and content are original and will be updated in the forthcoming months.


Sometimes the most simple items make the biggest impact! When my son was about 12 months old I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a huge bag of dried beans and an under-bed sized storage bin. My kids are now 8 and 5, and we are still finding ways to play with the tub-of-beans.


This activity isn't a complicated one, but I wanted to include it here because sensory play is always a winner!


Materials and Suggested Engagements:

Tub (with lid) for bean storage

Dried beans (or rice or whatever sensory item you want to use)

Toys or items to hide in the beans

Shovels, scoops, spoons, and other digging tools

Bean sorting tray (like an egg carton)

Plastic eggs or containers to make shakers



This activity is always a great one to pull out on a rainy or hot day or if you are occupied with an infant-aged child or busy cooking dinner.


Sorting the beans in containers like an egg carton is perfect for practicing counting, sorting, and fine-motor skills. If you have a container like a plastic Easter egg, you can put a few beans in the container and make a shaker instrument.




I had a package of plastic skeletons and bugs I picked up from the Dollar Tree that my son loved burying and "discovering."


There is just something cathartic about running your hands through the beans that even my young children can understand! lol



A bonus for this activity is that all of the items store in the box and slide under the bed or in a cabinet!


Extensions: You can use rice to do this activity instead of beans. If you wanted to make this sensory activity heavy on the sorting component, you can buy a variety of dried beans or seeds (lima, pinto, black, navy, etc.) and have your child sort by bean type or size or color.


Always watch your child(ren) around small toys and objects. Make sure your child(ren) doesn't stick any beans in her nose, mouth, or ears. So far, we've been lucky in our house, but there's always tomorrow!

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