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Does your child love “helping” you do dishes but always end up getting water everywhere? Making a Washing Dishes Sensory Bin is a great way to bring the sink down to your kid’s level.
This sensory bin allows young kids to gain independence by washing dishes, just like we do! It’s also great for sensory play, fine motor skills, and learning life skills!
Sensory bins are great activities for toddlers and preschoolers. They just love to get their little hands into things.
The best part? It only takes a couple of minutes to set up this water sensory bin, I only used items we already had at home and the end result not only keeps them busy, but helps strengthen those fine motor skills AND teach responsibility!
If your toddler loves being in the kitchen and loves the sink, I guarantee they will enjoy this sensory bin!
What Kind of Bin Works Best for This Activity?
We used a toy storage bin from Ikea and a laundry basket for the base. Other bins that would work fine are:
- Under the bed storage bin
- Toy storage bin
- Storage tub
Basically, any bin that doesn’t have walls that are too high.
What Children are Gaining from Washing Dishes Sensory Bin
Sensory bins, sensory bottles, or sensory bags, bring about amazing benefits!
Research shows that sensory play has a lot of benefits for children (source):
- Supports language development
- Fine and gross motor skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Life Skills (we all need to know how to wash dishes)
- Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
- Helps children learn sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry)
- Independent Play
What You Need for the Washing Dishes Sensory Bin
To make this sensory bin, you just need a few things.
- Two Bins
- Child safe dish soap or bubble bath (something like this brand is ideal)
- Dish Brush or Sponge
- Play dishes (find a cute set here)
How to Set Up the Washing Dishes Sensory Bin
- First, you need to set a beach towel down on your floor. You have a kid, they’re going to get water outside of the bin. It’s inevitable.
- Then, add bubble bath to one of the bins. If you don’t have bubble bath, you could use dish soap but it is really harsh and drying on your child’s delicate skin.
- Fill both bins with water. I filled both bins at the sink, but it can be pretty hard to fill a giant box at your counter and then move it so you might want to use a smaller container to fill at the sink and dump it in.
- Add in some dishes to wash and a scrub brush
- Give them a towel to dry the dishes
- Start doing the dishes!
Tips to Make the Most of This Water Sensory Bin Idea
- Use a variety of dishes – I put in plates, cups, and utensils today, but next time I might add in some pots and pans, fruits and vegetables, or maybe even some animals, cars or other toys.
- Use warm and cool water – Fill one bin with warm water and one bin with cool water to add to the sensory element. This is a great way to encourage your child to touch, think, and explore. It’s also a wonderful activity to encourage communication and language comprehension by not only saying the words “hot” and “cold,” but really feeling it!
- Explain how adults wash dishes – Give your child unused dish brushes and sponges to make this activity as real as possible and explain the process of doing dishes – wash with soapy water then rinse with clean water and dry. It’s never too early to learn how to wash the dishes.
- Be prepared for splashing – The water won’t stay in the bins. Splashing is part of this activity so make sure to have extra towels on hand and put your child in clothes that can get wet, or even better, no clothes at all!
Let them explore however they want. The whole point of a sensory bin is to be open-ended play. My daughter dumped the little bin into the big bin and started to undress 10 minutes into this activity and turned the dish bin into a bathtub.
This is such a fun and simple activity, and you can do this with things you have at home!
Use real pots and pans if you don’t have play ones. Even use the sink and fill with bubble bath or dish soap! My kids like to splash a lot so I brought this outside. Make it work for you and use what you have!
If you enjoyed this Washing Dishes Sensory Bin, you’ll also like:
- Painting With Water – Fun Outdoor Art For Toddlers
- How to Make a Red Sensory Bin – Step-by-Step Instructions
- Fun Fall Sensory Bin for Toddlers & Preschoolers
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