Are your kids obsessed with all things farm like mine are? I can’t tell you how many farm animals, tractors, puzzles, barns, and other farm toys we have around the house. We even have to listen to Old McDonald on repeat.
Inspired by his love of farms, we decided to create a farm sensory bin for my son. You can easily make one at home, too!
How to make a farm themed sensory bin
For one half of our farm bin, we focus on my son’s favorite part of farms-the animals. We gathered a few plastic farm animals, a barn, and a fence from his toys. Then, we decided we needed to make grass for the animals.
The other half of our bin focuses on the growing food and gardening aspect of farms. We found some extra dirt in the backyard and added some plastic vegetables.
Farm sensory bin materials
First, you’ll want to choose a base for your sensory bin. We decided to dye rice green for grass. Then, we added some plain soil under the ‘grass’.
Check under FAQ for how to easily dye rice. For the soil, make sure to use soil that does not have added fertilizer.
Next, choose some farm related add ins. We choose to add animals, a barn (that’s actually a puzzle piece), and a fence to the ‘grass’ rice side. Then, we added plastic vegetables to the dirt side.
This is a great opportunity to repurpose toys or other things around the house.
Farm things you could add include:
- A Barn
- A farmer
- Gardening equipment
- Silos or windmills
Adding in sensory tools to the farm bin
Think about also adding sensory tools if you have room in your farm sensory bin. Tools for pouring like measuring cups, spoons, shovels, and buckets are all great additions. A large benefit from sensory bins coming from the pouring, scooping, digging, and mixing.
All these tools encourage sensory exploration and fine motor skills. These are pivotal parts of messy play.
Encouraging Language Development
Sensory bins, and really any type of messy play, is a great time to talk with your child. Talk to them about the textures, sights, or even smells within the sensory bin. Emphasize how things feel in your hands.
While you demonstrate using the sensory bin, narrate what you are doing. That way kids can see and hear the sensory information.
Use farm related vocabulary words. Hearing you use new words like ‘silo’, ‘garden’, or ‘pasture’ helps your child learn these words as well. This may be the first time they are hearing certain words as well.
Putting together the sensory bin
First, dye your rice (if applicable) and add to into any size bin you have. Our favorite bins are ones with a large play area but low sides, like these. For this particular sensory bin, we used a smaller bin we had on hand and added rice and dirt.
After you have a base, add in the farm aspects and a few sensory tools. You can even have your child help you put it together, or put it together yourself for them for a fun surprise!
Tips for minimizing the mess
Sensory bins are a skill that children learn with practice. At first, there will be some mess. But you can minimize the mess with these tips:
- If you can’t play with it outside, play with your sensory bin on a sheet. Tell them the mess has to stay on the sheet, so they can see a physical boundary.
- Continually remind them that there’s no throwing, dumping, or eating.
- Take the bin away if they can’t follow the rules. Try again another time, and keep repeating the rules.
How to dye rice for a sensory bin
What you’ll need:
- 1 Cup Dry White Rice
- 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
- 15 Drops Green Food Coloring (or any color you want)
- Large Ziplock Bag
- Drying Pan
First, add the vinegar and the food coloring to the ziplock bag and mix. Pour in the rice and mix together with the bag closed until the color is uniform. Lastly, spread the wet rice onto a pan to dry overnight.
Do you need to use dirt for a farm sensory bin?
No, you don’t have to use dirt for a farm sensory bin. We chose to use dirt to practice digging and scooping while highlighting the gardening aspect of farms. You don’t have to include this if you don’t want it.
Build your own sensory table
To better allow your child to play with the sensory bin and contain the mess, build your own PVC pipe sensory bin. This is a foolproof way to build one that’s cheaper than buying one and simple to make.
Check out a full guide to sensory bins
Try even more sensory bin ideas. This also includes how to teach your child to use a sensory bin. Get it all here.
Ocean Sensory Bin
Or try this under water themed sensory bin for even more fun! The full instructions are here.