Cotton Ball Sensory Bin

One of our favorite family movies is Elf. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! It is such a funny movie that gets our whole family laughing. Well one day my children saw a new bag of cotton balls sitting on the bathroom sink that I had just bought. My oldest told her younger sister to eat one of the balls because it tasted like cotton candy. And of course she listened and put it in her mouth. I asked my oldest why she did that and she said it was because she remembered Buddy the Elf eating the cotton balls when he was in the doctor’s office. Don’t worry, my daughter did not eat the whole cotton ball. She just tasted it and spit it out.

There’s just something so fascinating to children about cotton balls. I think it’s the pretty round shape and soft touch. Not to mention when there’s a whole bag of them sitting on the counter looking so pretty my children just want to play with them. Well I decided to make a sensory bin for my children so they could explore the cotton balls as much as they want.

The great thing about this sensory bin is that most of the materials are on hand and cotton balls are very inexpensive. Instead of just placing the cotton balls in the bin I wanted to make it into a fun challenge for my children. So I covered one bin with tape and another with yarn. They then had to use spoons or tongs to get the cotton balls out of the bin through the tape or yarn. My children loved this activity (even my ten month old). It was a great way to practice fine motor skills for my two and four year old. I also added cups with numbers on them and had my four year old put the amount of cotton balls into the cup that were written on the cup.

This sensory bin was a way to get my children to play with the cotton balls so they could stay away from mine. But they didn’t need to know that! Another added bonus is that I was able to save most of the cottons balls to be used again for another sensory bin or art activity.

Focus Skills: Sensory exploration, fine motor skills

Version 1:

Supplies: Cotton balls, Masking tape, Tongs, spoons, measuring cups, measuring spoons (anything to get the cotton balls out), Egg carton or ice tray

Step 1: Place strips of tape on the bin by sticking one end of the tape on one side then twisting it so the sticky side is now facing up. Bring the strip all the way over to the other side and then twist the tape again so the sticky side is now facing down and can stick to the side of the bin. Repeat until you have a few strips of tape over the bin.

Step 2: Stick the cotton balls into the bin.

Step 3: Place spoons, measuring cups, measuring spoons, or tongs on top of the bin.

Step 4: Have your child get the cotton balls out of the bin with the cups spoons or tongs and either stick it onto the tape or into an egg carton or ice tray.

Version 2:

Supplies: Cotton balls, Yarn, Tape, Tongs, spoons, measuring cups, measuring spoons (anything to get the cotton balls out), Cups, egg carton, or ice tray

Step 1: Tape the end of the yarn to the bottom of the sensory bin.

Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the bin until the bin is covered.

Step 3: Put the cotton balls into the bin under the yarn.

Step 4: Place spoons, measuring cups, measuring spoons, or tongs on top of the bin.

Step 5: Have your child get the cotton balls out of the bin with the cups spoons or tongs and place them in the tray or cup.

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