Easy Christmas Sensory Bin for Preschoolers and Toddlers


The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to engage your preschoolers and toddlers in the festive spirit than with a Christmas sensory bin? In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, finding activities that are so much fun for little ones while promoting sensory play and fine motor skills can be a challenge. So we’ve got the perfect solution for you that won’t break the bank!

Materials from the dollar store like tinsel, garland, and an assortment of other decorative goodies become the building blocks for a fun Christmas sensory bin that promises hours of entertainment for little hands. This themed sensory bin isn’t just about keeping them busy—it’s a fantastic way to weave the magic of the holiday season into their playtime.

Let’s explore creative and budget-friendly sensory bin ideas that incorporate elements like Christmas trees, pom poms, jingle bells, and more. We’ll guide you through the steps to assemble a fun Christmas sensory bin that enhances fine motor skills in different ways. Get ready to dive into the holiday spirit with a sensory experience that’s not only festive but also an invaluable addition to your repertoire of Christmas activities for little ones.

Why Make a Sensory Bin 

Sensory bins are a wonderful opportunity for young kids to engage in enriching sensory activities that stimulate their developing minds. As an intriguing toy full of their favorite things, sensory bins offer an exciting exploration of various textures, colors, and shapes. 

The first thing that makes sensory bins so impactful is their ability to provide a range of sensory input, allowing children to actively use their senses to explore and understand the world around them. From the soft touch of cotton balls to the jingling sound of bells, these small pieces in sensory bins help refine fine motor skills while encouraging imaginative play. 

The diverse array of sensory items within these bins not only captivates young minds but also fosters cognitive development as children learn to differentiate between different materials. Overall, sensory bins emerge as a holistic and enjoyable approach to early childhood development, allowing kids to learn, play, and grow through a tactile and immersive experience in fun ways!

Gathering Materials

The first thing we did was head to the Dollar Tree with no definite plan in mind. There are so many great ways to build a sensory bin, so we figured we’d find everything we needed when we saw what they had. And they did not disappoint!

Head to the Christmas decorations section of your local dollar store, and you’ll be delighted with how many different things you can use in a sensory bin. Here’s what we found for our festive Christmas bin:

Christmas decorations
  • Tinsel garlands
  • Mesh tubes in different colors
  • Jingle bells
  • Pom poms 
  • Plastic ornaments 
  • LED Christmas lights

Feel free to use any Christmas items that your child will like and are safe for them. 

Building Your Own Christmas Sensory Bin

​Now, all you’ll need is a bin to put everything in! We like to use this size bin​ for the depth and room to play, but you can use any size that fits your needs. Or use any bin you already have at home, so you don’t have to buy a new one. 

First, we cut up the tinsel garlands and mesh tubes into smaller pieces that are easy for little hands to manipulate. The small size always young children to scoop and pour the pieces into different containers in their sensory bin. 

Then, add in your favorite Christmas items! Just pour in the fun Christmas items you found at the dollar store like plastic ornaments and jingle bells. 

​Lastly, for a little extra sensory input, we added the LED Christmas lights to the bottom of our bin. These are less for the pouring and mixing, and more for seeing how the different colors of lights shine through the other items.

Christmas tinsel sensory bin

Add in Sensory Tools

Now, consider adding in different items for sensory play that are not necessarily Christmas related. Think of things that will help with pouring, mixing, scooping, and other fine motor skills. We always add a few cups or bowls, spoons, measuring cups, and kitchen utensils. My sons favorite tool for all of his sensory bins is this scooper. 

Making It Your Own

One of the best parts of sensory bins is that you can customize it to your child and their development level as well as to your preference. Simple sensory bins in a small container can be just as beneficial as large, extravagant ones you see online.

Remember to not to use anything that may be a choking hazard if your child is still pretty young.

Start the Fun!

Now it’s time to start the Christmas fun! The thought of sensory bins can be daunting to parents only thinking of the mess, but, like many other skills and activities for children, this just takes practice. 

If your child isn’t used to using sensory bins, you’ll have to be more hands on with them at first. Check out our entire how-to guide and tip cheat sheet to teach children how to use sensory bins and minimize the mess. Either way, expect mess at the beginning (it’s good for them!), and it’s helpful to start playing with your child by showing them how to scoop, mix and pour!

My son started playing with sensory bins at one and a half years old, and, boy, was it a mess. But he was having so much fun. And, after continuing to work on them with our how-to guide, he now regularly plays with sensory bins on his own with little to no mess at two and half years old. 

A Fun Christmas Game

little boy playing in Christmas Sensory bin

Another fun way to play with this Christmas sensory bin is to start our Polar Express game! Find one larger jingle bell, dubbed ‘The Polar Express Bell’ and “lose it” in the bin (like the boy in the book) for your child to find. 

For younger kids, have just the one large bell. But, for older kids, hide it among the smaller jingle bells for an extra challenge. 

Build Your Own Sensory Table

You can even make your own budget-friendly sensory table from PVC pipes using our guide here. Then, you just switch out the sensory tub in the table with whatever sensory activities you have planned for the week or weeks ahead! This is a great idea for different holidays or preschool themes to keep using all year long.

We save past sensory bins in their own plastic container and switch them out when my son gets bored of one.

Other Sensory Bin Ideas 

For alternative sensory bin filler ideas for Christmas season, try green rice instead! You can get rice at the dollar store and follow this easy tutorial on how to dye rice. 

If you’re looking to build a sensory bin with items you already have at home, check out this easy water based sensory bin! Water is a great way to build a customizable sensory bin that little kids will love. Then, add fun, small items and Christmas decoration like jingle bells or plastic ornaments to the bin.

Merry Christmas! 

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