Make a Ocean Themed Sensory Bin Inspired by the Sea

Today we are making a seaside ocean sensory tub for kids! It’s so much fun and perfect for young children. This homemade sensory bin activity uses items that you likely already have at home and can help kids keep memories of a recent beach vacation or to explore the touches that they can experience near the ocean.

Seaside Ocean Homemade Sensory Bin for Kids - Kids Activities Blog
Let’s make an ocean themed sensory bin for play!

Ocean Sensory Bin

This idea came to me after returning from a seaside vacation. I thought creating a sensory bin for sensory play that was inspired by our trip would be a way we could keep that vacation spirit going long after we return home from the ocean.

Related: More sensory bins

We used some of our beach-combing treasures that we’d collected to make an imaginary seaside inside the sensory bin once we got back home.

How to Make an Ocean Sensory Bin

We started with a container that was big enough for a couple of children to play in together, but still easily portable so we can use it indoors and out. We found that an under-bed storage box is ideal.

This post contains affiliate links.

The seaside ocean sensory bin made at home with rice, toys, shells and more
Almost like sitting on the beach!

You may have these items from a recent vacation as well, but no worries if you don’t!  You can get them by clicking through the affiliate links used in this article.

Supplies Needed to Make a Seaside Sensory Bin

We’d been to a white pebble beach on our vacation, so we filled our tub with white rice to recreate it. You could also use sand or try this idea for a rock pool that I love from Nurture Store.

Then we added all the treasures we’d collected to bring lots of sensory textures and play possibilities: drift wood, pebbles, shells, dried seaweed.

Directions to Make a Seaside Sensory Bin

Homemade seaside ocean themed sensory bin for kids - Kids Activities Blog
Our seaside sensory bin invited a lot of toys to our homemade vacation beach!

Step 1

Pour the rice (or sand) into the plastic bin filling it at least several inches deep.

For the best sensory experience, if kids can feel something under the rice (or sand) but not see it, it helps them start identifying things solely on touch.

Step 2

Add the sea shells, shovels or scoops and any other toys.

This can be a sensory bin that grows over time! You don’t have to fill it right now with items to touch and feel.

Recreating ocean senses with sensory bin at home - Kids Activities Blog - kids on beach collecting shells
Recreate your ocean vacation experience at home!

Our Experience with the Ocean Sensory Bin

I found that younger children might love to simply enjoy touching and exploring all the beach items in the tub. My girls love to create imaginary lands so they brought their favorite characters along for a picnic day at the seaside.

This kind of play gives children the chance to recreate adventures they’ve had on vacation, to tell stories and practice new language, as well as learning how to co-operate with a friend to enjoy some play together.

Ocean Preschool Sensory Bin

Sensory bins for kids using rice - Kids Activities Blog - three rice filled sensory bins
Oh so many fun sensory bins we can make!
  • An ocean sensory bin is a fun way to practice fine motor skills, allows kids to explore the sense of touch, and promote imaginative play. 
  • Plus, it would be a fun ocean lesson. A sea theme sensory bin can open up the door to teach them about sea creatures, sea turtles, small ocean animals, and the coral reef. 
  • You can add extra things for older children like glass beads to their ocean sensory bin activity. And maybe more fragile ocean theme items like a sand dollar.
  • Adding some sensory sand to this ocean-themed sensory bin would be a great addition.


  • Uncooked bulk rice or fine play sand
  • Under bed storage plastic bin for more than one kid, plastic dish pan for one kid – you can also use a plastic bin with a lid if you want to store this for multi-day play
  • Sea shells collection
  • (Optional) Drift wood pieces (small)
  • (Optional) Pebbles
  • Small plastic shovels, sand scoops or kitchen cooking spoons
  • (Optional) Small toys


  1. Pour the rice (or sand) into the plastic bin filling it at least several inches deep.
  2. Add the sea shells, shovels or scoops and any other toys
  3. Have fun!

More Sensory Bin Ideas for Kids From Kids Activities Blog:

If you have ever wondered how to tell if my child has sensory issues…we have been there!

What was your favorite part about making a seaside ocean sensory bin?

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