Valentines Day Sensory Bin – My First One Ever!

I have been afraid of the esteemed sensory bin since my entrance into motherhood. With my kids it just sounds like one big mess I am going to have to clean up. We have done water beads, now those only go outside. We have kinetic sand, which is a little too kinetic to my daughters bum. And yes, there is always, always, always an argument or two and then a giant mess for mama to clean up. BUT those twenty minutes of different play-time is totally worth it.

So I decided it was high time I made one of these sensory bins for these littles. And, truthfully, I had such a good time putting it together. Both Ben and I played with it after the kids went to bed that first night. Picking up and sprinkling that rice all over the place is very calming, I highly recommend.

So here’s how we did it!

Dying the Rice

The first step of this little project was to dye the rice. I bought this 20lb bag of long grain white rice ($8.98) at Walmart, I was already convinced they were going to love it enough that I would make these more often, and I already had this clear bin.

To dye the rice I followed this recipe from Messes to Memories. Basically I put four cups of rice in a ziplock bag, 3 teaspoons of white vinegar, about 8 drops of food coloring, and then I mixed the crap out of it. The kids actually helped with this part, Isaac loved it. I ended up making pink and purple rice.

*Tip for purple: mix the food coloring before putting it on the rice. I did 4 drops each in the teaspoon I had used for the vinegar and then mixed it into the bag of rice.

After it was all mixed up and all the rice was colored, I lined two baking sheets with parchment paper to let the rice dry. I ended up putting the trays in the oven, set to 170, for about 5 minutes each just to help it set. This made the vinegar scent not as strong as well.


Setting Up the Bin

After dying the rice its the fun part, adding little toys to your bin! For what I understand, you can throw basically anything in there for your kiddos to find, burry and play with. Because I was doing a Valentines Day theme for this first sensory bin, I headed straight for the Dollar Tree. I walked up and down those aisles and basically grabbed anything I could throw in there. I spent a total of $8. I found some little Dino valentines cards, pulled the dinosaurs off the cards and threw those in there. I found Paw Patrol figurines and grabbed one of each pup (that’s Isaac’s favorite show right now). Then there is a pack of foam roses, a red pack and a pink pack, and finally a pack of gems that included fake little diamonds, lips and hearts.

Now for more play fun, I added a plastic serving spoon and fork for each kid so there is no fighting, and a few plastic bowls/Tupperware. It looked so dang cute I didn’t even want to let them play but we went for it!


Oh my lord, when I tell you these kids were over the moon it’s not even an apt enough description. They were having so much fun and there was very minimal arguing. Isaac was freaking out about the Paw Patrol pups and Addie kept telling me about each and every flower she found.

I got to sit at the table and write for nearly 45 minutes before the arguments started and rice started flying. And yes, there was a bit of a mess. But, honestly, the mess truly only happened in those last few minutes when I took too long to break up the behavior. And it only took me a few minutes to clean up.

100% worth it. Not an everyday activity, but definitely good to have on the back burner for those stir crazy afternoons, especially during these colder months!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments if you are team sensory bin or team-no freaking way!

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