Concept Sensory Bin

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It’s concept learning time from Crayon Box Chronicles! Today’s ultimate learning sensory bin is packed full of basic concepts, fine-motor activities, shapes, colors sequencing, and letters! Last week we explored Concept Sensory Painting, learning pre number concepts biggest :: smallest. Let’s dive back into our series today and discuss fun concepts — longest :: shortest, fill :: pour, full :: empty, and up :: down. Aside from all the fun learning, we’ll experiment with lacing, measuring, and sensory play with bright teeny-tiny colored pasta!

I love this pasta! It’s perfect for lacing, tweezing, and really developing those much-needed preschool skills! We chose red, green, and yellow. For a detailed tutorial, see How To Dye Pasta. Let’s build our sensory bin! First, fine-motor set-up and activities! Using a 5/64 drill bit, drill three small holes for pipe-cleaner lacing! Next, insert a pipe-cleaner through each hole and wrap them around the base. We chose three lengths to discuss longest :: shortest! Now, it’s fine-motor fun time! Encourage your child to lace, discussing concepts longest :: shortest, up :: down, and color sequencing! I asked the following questions:

  • Which pipe cleaner is the longest?
  • Which is the shortest?
  • Which way is up? Down?
  • Color sequencing red, green, red, green?

Let’s explore some more fine-motor fun! We made lacing lids! They’re super easy to make and really pack a fine-motor punch! Simply, drill 1/4″ holes in plastic lids and add pipe cleaners. We had left over plastic lids from our fun Mason Jar Cups we made this summer! You can also up-cycle old plastic lids from peanut butter, mayo, or similar items. It’s super simple and fun! C and I play a maze game with them too. Another great fine-motor activity is transferring the pasta to jars using tweezers. The smaller the tweezers, the bigger the challenge! Here’s C working diligently on lacing! Let’s discuss fill :: pour and full :: empty concepts now! There’s so many challenging activities packed into our ultimate learning bin! Those teeny-tiny pasta rings really engage sensory play and learning! It’s #1 go-to sensory material! If you enjoy creative messy play, see Sensory Painting and Activities. Full :: Empty! Fill :: Pour. We added in lots of measuring cups, scoops, a ladle, and various sized jars. C loves to pour! Fill :: pour was his first learned concept that he verbalized when he was younger. We threw in coordinating colored shapes — triangle, rhombus, trapezoid, and hexagons. Even C’s favorite alligator joined in the fun! Finally we discussed letters! We identified each letter, their sounds, and named an object that started with each letter. We also sang the Leapfrog alphabet song, “The A says ___, the A says ___, every letter makes a sound, the A says ___!” Also, “A is for apple!” Additional activities to encourage concept learning and sensory play:

  • Play I Spy with letters inside the bin.
  • Match each shape to a coordinating colored letter.
  • Discuss measuring and less :: more.
  • Create fun patterns and pictures with the shapes.

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Heather is a former creative director and stylist from the Big Apple. See more on her blog, Crayon Box Chronicles, where she explores creative messy play, recycled art activities, and sensory play with her son.

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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!


  1. Hi! I love this idea! Just bought 5 1 lb. boxes of the Ditanelli pasta today and it doesn't even come close to filling the bottom of the box. How many boxes did you buy for this project? Thank you!

  2. Hi Brittany. I used 6, 1 lb. boxes (2 of each color) and my rectangle container is 17" x 20.5". In the "How To Dye" tutorial, I used only 3 boxes, but used a circular container instead of large rectangle one. That may help too. Let me know if I can help in an other way. 🙂 Have fun!

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