Learning Activities · Sensory Play

St Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

I am so bad at planning holiday activities AHEAD of time when I am not teaching preschool! But this year I have a 2 year old who is OBSESSED with coins. We got her a little leapfrog cash register that counts when you put the money into it and she loves counting the coins at the top of her little voice. So when I remembered it was Patty’s day this week I thought I could through together a little sensory bin that she would love!



  • Sensory item to hide coins. Our rainbow rice works perfect for this but you could make anything work…cotton balls (clouds), dried beans (storm clouds?), dried corn (trickster gold coins?) make those cuties use their imagination!
  • Coins. You could use candy ones, real change or play coins.
  • A few tools. We have a small spatula and pumpkin scoop for digging and I threw in our tiny crocodile tweezers for some small motor skills work.
  • Very glamorous rainbow….not necessary! We just got some GIANT pipe cleansers last week and my girls are obsessed.

Set Up

  • Mix your coins up in your sensory bin and place your fun tools on top!
  • I also created a quick graph so my littles could keep track of their coins. I also hope it encourages my 2 year old to sort them into size and color.
    • For this I just used a ruler to draw out rows that will fit the different sized coins.
    • You could also use an ice tray or mini muffin tin to keep track of coins. Children love to fill up things and keep track of their goodies!



How many of you have children working on counting that…still need lots of work? Ha! My 2 year old counts 2,3,4,5,7,8,9! Last month she could only count 1,2,2,2,2.  I’m sure she will come up with a new way to count in a week or two, just to keep me on my toes. This is COMPLETELY normal! Young children often take steps forward AND back when trying to master a new skill. Remember how your baby would forget they can crawl for an hour or a few days? Toddlers can be the same as they are learning their ABC’s and 123’s. It is nothing to worry about or to become frustrated about. Remember they are learning new skills, vocabulary, and self control all day long so counting isn’t always at the top of their learning list.

Well after setting up the bin I let my toddler at it. It was a blast, I mean just look at all that sensory fun!


My little one was so excited to find BIG moneys and baby moneys. She worked very hard to use her tweezers for the big coins.


She would resort to her fingers for the little ones.


Then she would place her coins over on her graph. She loved counting the empty squares to know how many more she needed to find.


After finding all the coins little miss discovered how fun it was to hide them all again.

This was actually an activity that made her cry when we put it away. I would have left it out all day if we didn’t have a baby who has mastered the scootch. Baby girl would have too much fun snacking on our pretty rice.

TIP: I threw a sheet down on the living room floor and placed the bin on top of it, to make clean up as simple as picking up the sheet and dumping the spilled rice back into the bin.

AGE DIFFERENCE: For younger children this should be all about finding goodies in the bin. As they pull things out you can count them and even encourage a little sorting but focus on the sensory part of the play for a 1 year old. If you have an older child you can push them a little more. If you are using coins have them add up and see how much money they found. Or talk about which one is a penny and what it is worth.

EXTENSION: If your child plays with the bin for 2 minutes and then declares they are done you can tell them with their coins they can buy a special treat…BUT the treat costs 10 coins. Then when they have collected 10 coins pull out a giant marshmallow and blow their minds! (Maybe that only works on my children…we LOVE marshmallows over here).


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