Toddler Games: Sensory Box Fillers and Tools

This summer I’m trying to keep Emily as busy as possible. She’s going to summer preschool two times a week (that’s been a tough transition!), but that’s still lots of time that she’ll be with me. I’ve already planned Museum Mondays (we have a membership to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis–love) and story time at the library on Wednesdays. We’re part of two reading programs so reading books will be happening all the time.

Petting a tortoise at the library's Critter Chat

Petting a tortoise at the library’s Critter Chat

I’ve also put together some sensory boxes and activities to practice letters, Emily’s name, colors, numbers, and shapes. My current plan is to keep each set of activities around for two weeks, which will last until the end of the summer. So during middle of the night nursing with Piper, I made lists and pinned ideas…

Step 1: Sensory Box Fillers
You can find all sorts of filler ideas on Pinterest. I narrowed my list down to things I already had around the house or could be picked up in a trip to the dollar store.

*colored beans
*tissue paper (cut into squares)
*scrap cloth (cut into strips)
*pom poms

Other ideas:  rice, ribbons, feathers, sand, dirt, beads, popcorn kernels, pebbles, cornmeal, oatmeal, lentils

Colored Beans:
I got the tutorial for coloring the beans from Fun at Home with Kids. Super fast and easy. One thing to note now that Emily has played with the beans for a few days–the color will bleed onto their hands. Since the food coloring is water based, those sweaty little hands will cause some of the color to rub off. We’ve had no problem getting the color off in the bath, but make sure your child is wearing play clothes.
*I used three bags of white beans for about 18 cups of beans–plenty to fill a tub.

photo 1

Step 2:  Tools
I gathered all of these into a large bag and will randomly put them in the sensory boxes. I’ve also pulled them for play dough, water play, “cooking,” etc.

*rolling pin
*practice chopsticks (I wanted a big pair of tweezers but couldn’t find them)
*tongs (Walmart had a cute pair of small ones)
*measuring cups
*measuring spoons
*paint brushes
*plastic knife
*popsicle sticks

*Step 3:  Box
Find a large box with a lid. This way you can leave your supplies in there, store it easily, and keep the moisture out (for things like the beans and pasta). I also have a blanket around that the box has to stay on. That way I don’t find beans all around my house!


Whatever you decide to use, make it easy and inexpensive. Don’t use anything that would be difficult to replace. Most of the supplies you’ll be able to use for another sensory box, but make sure it’s all things you’d be okay tossing if you need to!


The first box and activities we’re doing are to practice the alphabet and Emily’s name. Next week I’ll post the activities we’re using.

photo 2

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Filed under Crafts, Toddler

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