Sensory tubs or bins are a large container or tray filled with sensory materials for toddlers to explore. Sensory tubs can be based around a theme - for example the time of year (Christmas, spring...), different colours, small world play (the farm, a construction site) or textures (wet, cold, soft). I first learned about sensory bins when browsing ideas for young children on Pinterest. In particulary my eye was caught by the fantastic sensory tubs dreamed up by Counting Coconuts.
The first sensory tub that I made for my children was a beach sensory tub, closely followed by a fireworks sensory tub and spring sensory tub. Although I do make an effort to include items relevant to the theme, both my children spend more time playing with the coloured rice that I use as a base - using various kitchen utensils to spoon, fill and pour the rice.
If you want to make your own sensory tub they are so easy to put together. I tend use coloured rice as a base for mine, which is just cheap, plain rice dyed with food colouring. You could also use dried beans, lentils, pasta, sand, fish tank stones - there are so many possibilities. Then look around the house for some props that fit in with a theme, or just let children play around with spoons, cups, funnels, bowls, ice cube trays or anything else that you can find.
Sensory tubs also don't need to be expensive to put together - most supermarkets carry a value range of ingredients where you can buy the base materials for pennies. Make sure that you supervise young children when playing with sensory tubs, as they often contain small items. If you have a child that insists on eating everything, have a look here for some edible messy play ideas.
For more inspiration, here are some other fantastic sensory tubs from around the blogosphere:
An icy sensory tub experience with various things frozen inside blocks of ice, and exploring different ways to release the hidden treasures.
An edible sensory experience with a garden made of lots of different things to eat, including soil made from cake crumbs.
A sensory tub made with shaving foam for delicious smelling (and clean) fun play and hidden gems from What to do with the Children blog.
A sensory tub which uses water beads for some small world play with diggers.
If you are still looking for more sensory tub inspiration I can highly recommend having a browse over at Counting Coconuts and The Imagination Tree.
Some sensory tub resources:
(All images in this post are used with permission.)