Kids love sensory play. Whether you want to explore the butterfly’s life cycle or simply enjoy a spring theme, create a simple butterfly sensory bin! With a few tips, tricks, and ideas, enjoy sensory play straight through the summer! Plus, grab the free printable butterfly life cycle mini pack too!
Butterfly Sensory Play
Kids love to dig their hands into a newly made sensory bin, scoop and pour, and carry out storytelling. Creating a butterfly sensory bin to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly is a fantastic way to combine hands-on learning and a tactile experience.
Below you’ll find many resources to help you assemble an entire butterfly-theme unit! I know they will have so much fun with the hands-on activities below.
Hands-On Sensory Play Suggestions
Add accessories and tools that encourage fine motor practice with the young age group that a sensory bin is designed for. This can be as simple as scooping the filler into a small container, and then dumping it into another container. For a more complex activity, provide kitchen tongs to grab objects and transfer them to a container.
You can even add a simple matching or math activity to your sensory bin. Have the kids match the items to pictures next to the sensory bin. Additionally, you can place a counting mat next to the sensory bin.
For this butterfly sensory bin, you can create the life cycle of a butterfly using the contents of the sensory bin and our free printable pack below.
Free Printable Butterfly Life Cycle Activity Pack
Add a butterfly life cycle activity to this sensory bin! Grab the free pack below!
Butterfly Sensory Bin Supplies
NOTE: While this sensory bin uses food as a filler, you can easily switch it out for various nonfood fillers, such as small rocks, sand, pompoms, acrylic vase filler, etc. However, this filler nicely represents the stages of the butterfly life cycle.
Optional Sensory Bin Fillers: You aren’t limited to the exact materials we have used for this sensory bin. Use the images below to guide creating a unique butterfly life cycle sensory bin. Feel free to combine and explore materials that work for you in your setting.
FIND IT: Local hobby and craft sources often have bags of vase fillers perfect for sensory bins! You can get all sizes of rocks, acrylic gems, tokens, and more! There is such a wide variety. If you take the time to separate and store the fillers nicely, you can reuse them easily with different themes.
NOTE: We no longer recommend using water beads due to extreme health risks. Please DO NOT use this as a sensory bin filler.
- Sensory Bin (see tips below)
- White rice- Larvae
- Rotini pasta- Caterpillar
- Shells pasta- Cocoon
- Bow tie pasta- Butterfly
- Butterfly toys
- Caterpillar toy
- Faux leaves
- Small sticks
How to Set Up a Butterfly Sensory Bin
It’s pretty much a 1-2-3 process for setting up a sensory bin. Remember, it will never look quite as pretty as the moment before your kids dig into it! Don’t make it too complicated.
STEP 1 FILLER: Add the rice and pasta contents to the sensory bin: rice, rotini pasta, shells pasta, and bow tie pasta.
STEP 2 THEMED ITEMS: Place the other items on top: butterfly toys, caterpillar toys, faux leaves, and small sticks.
STEP 3 BIG ITEMS: Add a scoop, kitchen tongs, and a container or bug box if desired. Kitchen tongs would be my choice!
ENJOY! All that’s left is to invite the kids to explore the contents of the butterfly sensory bin!
Butterfly Life Cycle Activity
Go ahead and make the life cycle of a butterfly using the materials from the sensory bin and our butterfly life cycle printable!
TIP: Always add a few themed books to the side of the bin as a nice transition between activities.
The Best Sensory Bin, Tub, or Sensory Table To Use
Please note I am sharing Amazon Affiliate links below. I may receive compensation through any purchases made.
Start with the right sensory bin or tub when creating a sensory bin for kids of all ages. With the right size bin, kids will be at ease playing with the contents, and the mess can be kept to a minimum.
Is a sensory table a good choice? A more expensive, heavy-duty sensory table, such as this one, allows one or more kids to stand and play comfortably. This was always my son’s favorite sensory bin, and it works just as well for home use as it does in the classroom. Roll it right outside!
If you need a sensory bin set on a table, make sure the sides are not too tall so kids do not feel like they are struggling to reach into it. Aim for a side height of around 3.25 inches. If you can place it on a child-size table, that makes it much better. Under the bed storage bins also work well for this. Grab a plastic kitchen sink dish pan from the dollar store if you need a quick, cheap alternative!
Unless you have space restrictions, try to pick a size that gives your kids room to play around without continually knocking the contents out of the bin. These more compact sensory bins with lids are a good alternative.
Sensory Bin Tips and Tricks
TIP: Due to various sensory needs, some kids may feel more comfortable standing to engage in the activity. Sitting on the floor or kneeling in front of a sensory bin may also be uncomfortable. My son’s sensory needs made standing the best choice for us.
TIP: When designing a themed sensory bin, consider how many items you put into the bin versus the size of the bin. Too many items may feel overwhelming. If your kid is playing happily with the sensory bin, resist the urge to add just one more thing!
TRICK: It’s important for the adult to model the appropriate use of sensory bins and to keep a close eye on young kids who may want to throw the filler and items. Keep a kid-size broom and dustpan handy to help them learn how to clean up spills.
Learn more about sensory bins here!
More Fun Bug Activities To Try
- Build an insect hotel.
- Explore the life cycle of the amazing honey bee.
- Create a fun bumble bee craft.
- Enjoy hands-on play with bug theme slime.
- Make a tissue paper butterfly craft.
- Make an edible butterfly life cycle.
- Learn about ladybug life cycle.
- Make playdough bugs with printable playdough mats.
Life Cycle Lapbooks
We have a fantastic collection of ready-to-print lapbooks here that include everything you need for spring and throughout the year. Spring themes include bees, butterflies, frogs, and flowers.
Printable Spring Activities Pack
If you’re looking to grab all of the printables in one convenient place plus exclusives with a spring theme, our 300+ page Spring STEM Project Pack is what you need!
Weather, geology, plants, life cycles, and more!