Kids love sensory play. Whether you want to explore a popular summer theme or find a way to sneak in math or fine motor skills, create a simple ice cream sensory bin! With a few tips, tricks, and ideas, enjoy sensory play straight through the summer! Plus, grab the free printable ice cream coloring page and how to make a sensory bin guide!

Butterfly Sensory Bin

Ice Cream Sensory Activities

Kids love to dig their hands into a newly made sensory bin, scoop and pour, and carry out storytelling. Creating an ice cream sensory bin is a super fun theme for summertime.

Below you’ll find many resources to help you assemble an ice cream theme unit! I know your kids 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 for which a sensory bin is designed. 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.

Try it: Pom poms are excellent for transferring tongs from one container to another. Add some sneaky math by rolling a die and counting how many to transfer.

Free How to Make a Sensory Bin Guide

It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4 to make a sensory bin! Get started today with this simple sensory bin guide.

Free Printable Ice Cream Coloring Page

Grab this instant download and add a simple ice cream coloring page to this sensory bin theme.

Ice Cream Coloring Page

Ice Cream Sensory Bin Supplies

NOTE: While this sensory bin uses pompoms as a filler, you can easily switch it out for a kinetic sand-type filler which is fun to go with an ice cream scoop

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.

SAFETY NOTE: We do NOT recommend using water beads due to extreme health risks. Please DO NOT use this as a sensory bin filler.

  • Sensory bin
  • Plastic ice cream cones (Amazon Affiliate Link)
  • Ice cream scoops (these came with the set above) 
  • Pastel Pom poms (variety of sizes)
  • Small white pom poms
  • Pony beads (optional)
  • Cupcake liners (silicone is sturdier, but paper works well too!)

How to Set Up an Ice Cream 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: Pom poms are the perfect filler for ice cream sensory play!

STEP 2 THEMED ITEMS: Place the other items on top, including plastic cones, cupcake liners, and beads if desired.

STEP 3 BIG ITEMS: Add a scoop, kitchen tongs, and a container if desired.

ENJOY! All that’s left is to invite the kids to explore the contents of the ice cream sensory bin! 

Ice Cream Activity

Color matching, counting, and pretend play! So many great benefits to this sensory bin.

TIP: Always add a few themed books to the side of the bin as a nice transition between activities.

Ice Cream Sensory Bin

More Fun Ice Cream Activities to Try

Ice Cream Art

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!

Homemade Sensory Play Recipes