The Easiest Ocean Sensory Bin for Toddlers

Activity 1: The Easiest Ocean Sensory Bin

Play with toddlers can feel daunting. The worry about safety and stress over mess can make us parents wonder whether it’s worth the bother. That’s why it’s best to keep things simple by just adding water! Keep reading to find out how to make the easiest ocean sensory bin.

About the 101 Play Invitations Series

The easiest ocean sensory bin is the first activity of the 101 Play Invitations Series. It’s designed to get you kick-started with simple and affordable play invitations.

the easiest ocean sensory bin to make. The photo shows a plastic tub filled with water, shells and small plastic sea creatures

Why bother?

If you’re on the fence about toddler activities, I’m here to convince you that they are well worth it. The key is, don’t spend hours creating elaborate activities. That’s why the easiest ocean sensory bin is such a hit with toddlers.

Sensory play has many, many benefits including encouraging  language development and boosting fine motor skills.

You can read more about the benefits of sensory play and how to get started here. 

How to Make Easiest Ocean Sensory Bin


  • Large plastic tub
  • small ocean themed figurines
  • shells
  • water
  • blue food dye – optional
  • bubble bath – optional
  • towel
  • messy mat / picnic blanket

a square image of the easiest ocean sensory bin


The Set Up:

  1. Start by placing a large messy mat or picnic blanket on the floor. This will catch any spills and prevent the surface from becoming slippy.
  2. Fill a large plastic tub with water and place on the mat. You can opt to add food dye or bubble bath to the water if you wish.
  3. Add the sea creatures and shells.
  4. Invite your child to play!

Safety first! Never leave your child unattended when playing with water. Set up the activity first before inviting them to play.

More Sensory Play Activities

If you enjoyed this blog post on how to create the easiest ocean sensory bin, you might also enjoy some of our other sensory play ideas too:

20 Simple Toddler Play Ideas for the IKEA Flisat Table 

5 Benefits of Sensory Play + How to Get Started 

10 sensory play ideas for Autumn 

Sunflower Sensory Play

How to make Lavender sensory rice 

How to make apple playdough + 15 ideas to try 

How to make cranberry and orange playdough

Simple Hot Chocolate Sensory Bin 

Do you need more help with sensory play?

Sensory play is more than just the activity itself. If you are worried about starting sensory play (or you hate it), I have just the course for you!

Head on over to my membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’, to access the mini course ‘Starting Sensory Play’.

Topics covered include:

  • The importance of Sensory Play
  • How to plan and prepare for sensory play
  • Do you need to use food in sensory play?
  • Essential sensory play resources
  • Simple Sensory play activities + 80 page guide
Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.