5 Fun Weather Sensory Bin Ideas!

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After some snow earlier this winter my two toddlers developed a huge interest in the weather. I wanted to bring their questions on rain, snow and rainbows to life and set to work creating a series of weather sensory bins. From pom pom rainbows to a snowy winter day, these are our favorite weather sensory bins and they are the perfect introduction to weather activities for toddlers.

Weather Sensory Bin
Weather Sensory Bins are an awesome weather activity for toddlers

 

Weather Sensory Bins

Sensory play is a fantastic tool to encourage kids to explore, engage and create and it helps kids develop essential skills. Our weather themed sensory bins are focused on developing a range of skills including:

  • Fine motor skills: our weather sensory bins incorporate lots of scooping, grabbing and pinching with tongs and squeezing water from droppers. All these activities mean little hands will work hard and improve muscle strength.
  • Creative skills: weather sensory bins offer open ended play opportunities and aim to capture their imaginations.
  • Language and vocabulary skills: as well as introducing extensive weather vocabulary I also set up a few simple experiments which are a really fun way to introduce basic science and weather concepts.

Weather Sensory Bins tip: we use the Ikea Flisat table for all our space sensory bin play. Don’t worry if you don’t have sensory table, you can use craft trays or storage bins to the same effect. If you have an Ikea Flisat table then check out our Ikea Flisat table hacks!

Weather Sensory Bin
Scoopers, jumbo droppers and tongs are great for the development of fine motor skills

 

5 Easy Weather Sensory Bins

We’ve included our favorite weather sensory bins. These are relatively easy to set up and were created with ingredients and toys in our cupboard and playroom!

Weather sensory bin essentials

  • Weather book: I like to accompany our sensory bins with some toddler appropriate books and opted for All About Weather. It is simple with lovely illustrations and is a great introduction to the topic.  My kids enjoy dancing in the rain and jumping in puddles so I also used some rain specific books to explore the concept of rain in a little more detail. We used the Little Raindrop book and The Drop goes Plop.
Weather Sensory Bin
All About Weather is a lovely and simple introduction to weather
  • Food coloring or non toxic paint: we use Wilton Icing colors for most of our sensory activities as it gives such vibrant colors. This is the Wilton set – I used it for the rainbow rice and also in the play dough we made below. I use a liquid food coloring like this set for water coloring.
  • Wooden scoops: a wooden scoop set works really well with a small ingredient like rice – something similar to this set will work great.
  • Wooden bowls: we love our Grimms stacking and nesting bowls  – we have this set in natural and rainbow colors.
  • Jumbo eyedroppers:  this set of Jumbo eyedroppers are one of favorite sensory tools. They are excellent for fine motor skills and developing an understanding of cause and effect.
Weather Sensory Bin
We practiced using tongs to lift the pom poms in our rain sensory bin

 

1 | An introduction to weather

The idea behind our first weather sensory bin is to introduce kids to the various types of weather: we started with snow, wind, rain, sun, clouds, storms and rainbows. We used this bin in conjunction with our All Weather book to identify the different weather types. 

Weather Sensory Bin
Our intro to weather and rainbow rice sensory bins

After this I set my little ones up with some mini scoopers and sorting bowls – colored rice is an excellent sensory bin filler for developing fine motor skills.

Weather Sensory Bin
Exploring the different types of weather

For the introduction to weather sensory bin you will need:

  • Rice: note, uncooked rice is toxic. This is an activity to monitor closely to ensure none of the rice is consumed. I mix the rice and a generous amount of food coloring for a vibrant color and leave to dry – a few drops of vinegar or water will help the color spread.
  • Pom poms: my kids love working with pom poms! The variety of colors makes them an excellent prop for weather learning and they feature in many of our sensory bins. The clouds, snowman, wind and rain are pom poms. I have way too many pom pom sets to be sure which ones I used but these large pom poms are a good starter option!

Weather sensory bins tip: remember, pom poms are a choking hazard so only use them if they are age appropriate. Make sure to closely supervise play at all times and avoid if your kid is likely to put things in their mouth.

Weather Sensory Bin
Rainbow pom poms
  • Rainbow ribbon: for the rainbows I used some rainbow ribbon I had in my craft cart 
  • Pipe cleaners: another sensory bin staple, I used pipe cleaners to represent lightning. If you need a set, try one like this with a variety of colors so you can use it time and time again.
  • Wooden weather symbols: I took some pieces from our balancing weather puzzle and also used our Grapat raindrops and Grimms rainbows. Grimms also do a great weather set.
  • Wooden scoops: a wooden scoop set works really well with a small ingredient like rice.
  • Wooden bowls: I used this set in rainbow colors
Weather Sensory Bin
Introducing the concepts of weather

 

2 | Rainbow rice fun!

Rainbow rice is one of our favorite sensory bin fillers and the beautiful colors make it so inviting for sensory play.

Weather Sensory Bin
Rainbow rice is a beautiful sensory bin filler

 I set out some wooden scoopers and rainbow colored bowls and set the task of matching the rice color to the bowl. This is a fantastic sensory bin for color identification and matching and helps develop fine motor skills.

Weather Sensory Bin
Scooping our rainbow rice

I quickly set up some pom poms in the shape of a rainbow to accompany the rainbow rice sensory bin and we talked through the different colors. I popped a rainbow outline on the table top (just a sheet of paper with a rainbow outline) and set my 3 year old the challenge of filling it with pom poms from the rainbow bowls – he did a great job and enjoyed trying to recreate a colorful rainbow.

Weather Sensory Bin
Pom pom rainbows!

For the rainbow rice sensory bin you will need:

  • Rice: note, uncooked rice is toxic. This is an activity to monitor closely to ensure none of the rice is consumed. I mix the rice and a generous amount of food coloring for a vibrant color and leave to dry – a few drops of vinegar or water will help the color spread.
  • Wooden scoops: a wooden scoop set works really well with a small ingredient like rice – something similar to this set will work great.
  • Wooden bowls: we love our Grimms stacking and nesting bowls  – we have this set in natural and rainbow colors.
Weather Sensory Bin
Rainbow rice fun!

3 | Dancing in the rain clouds!

My toddlers love rain so I created a couple of rain sensory bins for them to explore.

Weather Sensory Bin
Rain sensory bins

Our first set up was a sensory bin and table top using pom poms and weather props to set the scene and introduce the concept of rain. We used scoopers and tongs to collect items from our rain sensory bins to encourage dexterity and improve fine motor skills.

Weather Sensory Bin
We used scoopers and tongs to explore our rain sensory bin

We then moved onto to the kids’ favorite, a mix of shaving foam and food coloring – I filled a sensory bin with shaving foam to represent clouds and we used our jumbo droppers (another sensory bin favorite!) to make it rain onto the clouds.

Weather Sensory Bin
Make it rain!

My 3 year old was fascinated by the process and requested additional colors so we extended the discussion and color palette to cover the spectrum of the rainbow. This session was a huge hit and both my toddlers loved the tactile feedback from the shaving foam.

Weather Sensory Bin
Shaving foam and food coloring

Finally, we did a really simple rain experiment with shaving foam, water and blue food coloring. I explained in simple terms how water droplets gather in the clouds and, when they get too heavy to stay in the cloud, they fall down to the ground as rain.

Weather Sensory Bin
Our simple rain experiment

My 3 year old used his jumbo dropper to fill the shaving foam cloud with water until the cloud began to rain into the water below. He was so pleased with the outcome and proudly explained that the cloud was too heavy when it started to rain. This is such a simple and easy experiment to bring rain to life and it’s great for introducing younger kids to the concept of scientific experiments.

Weather Sensory Bin
Waiting patiently for our rain!

For the rain sensory bin you will need:

 

4 | Play dough weather

Play dough is an excellent sensory tool and I always try to include it in our sensory themes. It works the muscles in small hands and helps with the development of tactile skills. This play dough weather tray can be created with regular or DIY play dough, I made the play dough for our weather activities.

Weather Sensory Bin

You will need:

  • Weather cookie cutters: you can make your weather play dough shapes free hand but our toddlers like using cookie cutter to shape their play dough – this is our favorite weather set 
  • Rainbow colored play dough: I made some rainbow colored play dough so we could work on creating a play dough rainbow.

Weather sensory bins tip: I make my play dough from a quick mix of some cupboard staples (flour, vegetable oil, cream of tartar, salt, water and food coloring). The recipe is taste safe and always goes down a treat with our toddlers. We love the Wilton icing colors and find the vibrancy of their colors amazing. Make sure to wrap the playdough in cling film when you’re done so it doesn’t dry out.

Weather Sensory Bin
Rainbow play dough

 

5 | Snow Day

For our final weather sensory bin I used a mix of conditioner and baking soda to create some fake snow. The great thing about this fake snow recipe is that it produces an endothermic reaction and the snow is cold to the touch – my kids love that it mimics real snow!

Weather Sensory Bin
Snow day!

I introduced our snow sensory bin with a discussion about winter weather and how snow happens when it gets cold and there is water in the air.

For this snow sensory bin we used:

  • Baking soda: 3 cups. I always stock up on a few larger bags of baking soda for sensory play
  • Conditioner: ½ cup. The conditioner just needs to be white colored, I usually pick up something generic from the supermarket. 

Weather sensory bin tip: stir the conditioner through the baking soda and adjust the quantities as necessary to change the consistency of the snow.

Weather Sensory Bin
Our snow sensory bin

Weather Peg Dolls

I love incorporating wooden peg dolls into our sensory play and used a set of weather peg dolls to match weather types and aid story telling. Wooden peg dolls are excellent for promoting imagination and story telling in sensory play.

Weather Sensory Bin
Weather peg dolls

I painted each peg doll a rainbow color and added a weather symbol on their front. My toddlers loved being able to match each doll to the weather type and my 3 year old loved taking them on an adventure through the weather sensory bins.

Weather sensory bins tip: when I’m painting peg dolls I always give my toddlers one to design and paint themselves and they love it! If you have older kids, this wooden peg doll craft set is great for encouraging them to create their own peg dolls. 

You will need:

Weather sensory bins tip: I usually paint my own peg dolls but you can usually pick up a themed set from Etsy if you prefer.

Weather Sensory Bin
Our rainbow peg doll

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