This fishing sensory bin uses a base of water beads, craft foam fish and magnets for sensory fun for kids. Modifications for various ages included.
Sensory bins are excellent for early learning, and great for children with sensory-seeking behaviors. They provide opportunities for rich learning for kids as children are engaged and using many of their senses during play. This is a really fun bin for all ages – be sure to check out the bottom of the post to modify this for toddlers all the way through older children.
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Fishing Sensory Bin
This fishing sensory bin is great for all ages. Turn it into a baby-safe sensory bag for toddlers, practice colors and counting with preschoolers, and talk about magnetism with older kids!
I like to use different trays and pans for sensory play depending on what we are doing, but a clear scrapbook paper container like this one with a lid is a sure favorite. When the kids are done playing, I can close it up and save it for another day easily.
What you need for the fishing sensory bin:
Clear bin with lid (easier to store without the water beads falling everywhere)
Dowel or stick
What to do:
Grow the water beads according to package instructions. Prep this ahead of time, as the water beads take roughly 4 hours or so to grow. (Kids love to help with this step, it’s like magic!)
Add the hydrated water beads to a bin with a lid. We love using a scrapbook paper container for this.
Cut fish shapes out of craft foam. My older kids helped with this step, they loved making their own designs. Add a couple of paper clips to the fish and draw and eye and a smile.
Tie a ribbon onto a dowel or a stick to serve as your fishing pole. To the end of the ribbon, tie a magnet. We used a magnetic shape from our toy box but you could also use just about any magnet that a paperclip will stick to.
The assembly is done! Kids can now choose to go fishing. Check out some modifications below for various ages.
To Use this Sensory Bin with Toddlers:
If your child like to put play items into their mouths, water beads might not be the safest choice. But, they can still go fishing! Place some water beads and fish into a ziplock bag and seal shut, leaving some air in the bag.
Using a large magnetic wand or the fishing rod made above, kids can move the fish around the bag my using the magnet on the paperclips.
To Use this Sensory Bin with Preschoolers:
Sensory bins are excellent tools to practice colors and counting with preschoolers. Ask your preschool to hunt for a specific color of fish, have them count all of the fish that they caught, or have them sort the colors of caught fish into piles. So many fun ways to play and learn.
You can also sort the colors of the water beads or match them to the fish!
To Use this Sensory Bin with Elementary Ages:
This is a really great opportunity to talk about magnetism with older kids. See if your kids can find different magnetic materials to add to their rod. Did their ideas work? Introduce words such as ‘attract’ or ‘repel’ during this basic experiment. Kids will have a wonderful time exploring magnets through this sensory play.
Have so much fun with your fishing sensory bin!