One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents, caregivers, and teachers in regards to sensory bins is the clean up! We all know the benefits of sensory bins must surely outweigh the potential mess they can make, right? Instead of choosing to forgo the sensory bin experience, learn how to clean up sensory bins in a snap instead. A couple easy tricks and tips will have you loving sensory bins in no time.
HOW TO CLEAN UP SENSORY BINS IN A SNAP
MESS IS GONNA HAPPEN
The first thing I want to stress over anything else is that MESSES ARE GOING TO HAPPEN! Yes, that’s right! Messes are going to happen to even the most well intentioned plan of them not happening. Be prepared to find your happy place when they do happen and learn from the situation instead.
STARTING WITH SENSORY BIN CLEAN UP TRICKS
I don’t have the end all, be all secret to preventing sensory bin messes in your house or classroom, but I can share some easy sensory bin clean up tricks to help make it a little more manageable.
Use a large sheet, even a king size one if you need to so you can really cover the floor area. Place your sensory bin, tray, or table in the middle! When your kids are done enjoying the sensory bin, fold the corners of the sheet into the middle, pick up, and dump contents into the trash or back into the bin if applicable. This works nicely for dry sensory bin fillers.
Use a dollar store shower curtain to cover the floor. Now this trick is especially nice for bins filled with water, shaving cream, pudding, and any other messy style sensory bins that would soak right through a sheet. Rinse or hose off when finished!
Even if you have a particularly neat kid, the contents of the sensory bin will undoubtedly fly out of the bin from time to time. It even happens to adults too. However, you can encourage gentle play and model gentle play behaviors for your kids. It’s up to you to set the boundaries of what you allow and don’t allow.
Use a kiddie pool to contain the mess. Sensory bin goes into the kiddie pool. Kids go into the kiddie pool, and the mess is really contained!
Take it outside but me mindful of what you are spilling into your lawn that could make wildlife sick. Opt for a birdseed bin or take water sensory bins outdoors. Great opportunity to make a mud bin or use fillers like pudding that will wash away.
MOVING ON TO A FEW SENSORY BIN CLEAN UP TIPS
The biggest problem I encounter with sensory bin mess is not using the right size bin. When they say size doesn’t matter, that’s fine for the older kids! You can even get away without using the above mentioned items with this tip.
If you want to learn how to clean up sensory bins in a snap, consider the size!
The bigger the bin the better for younger sensory bin enthusiasts. I wouldn’t suggest giving one of our shoebox size sensory bins to a toddler but maybe an older preschooler!
Those under the bed storage bins are awesome for holding sensory fillers and a small kid.
Also there are large sensory tables or tubs that make creating sensory bins a breeze! They are a bit of an initial investment but are so wonderful for sensory play. My son really enjoyed standing at his sensory bins. They also allow you to add a good amount of filler for lots of scooping without worrying too much about making a mess.
We also use a generous but more manageable size bin which has easily become one of our favorites due to it’s lower sides but hefty capacity. This is a Sterilite 25 QT bin with the dimensions 24 x 15 x 6. This one was our arctic ice melt and sensory bin.
KEEPING A FEW SENSORY BIN CLEAN UP HINTS IN MIND
There’s nothing messier then giving the wrong type of sensory play material to a kid. If you really want to learn how to clean up sensory bins, make sure you choose a sensory bin filler that is appropriate to the age of the child. This comes in very handy when you think about whether or not the kid will try to eat your sensory bin filler as well.
Very fine fillers like rice and sand can scatter everywhere as do dried beans, but little kids fingers can easily pick up dried beans over tiny rice pieces. A mini dust pan and brush are a must have item to pair with your sensory bin, and there’s not time like a spill to show your kids how to use one!
Some kids may do better standing and playing with sensory bins and some kids may do better sitting. Choose a surface that allows your kids to either comfortably sit or stand and play is ideal. A kid’s size table or coffee table is often ideal. Not all kids feel comfortable sitting on the floor.
Additionally, your bin size and the number of kids you expect to be playing with it at once should be taken into consideration. How many kids at a time? Even our largest red sensory table works best with only 3 kids maybe 4 at the most! An under the bed container is good for 2 maybe 3 at the most. Our smallest bin, 1-2 kids is best.
LEARN HOW TO CLEAN UP SENSORY BINS IN A SNAP WITH LITTLE FRUSTRATION!
There’s so much more to read about sensory bins and sensory play. There are tons of sensory bin ideas out there as well as sensory play recipes to try. Plus they aren’t as expensive as you might think, read here.