Dinosaur Sensory Bin

Due to the nasty winter weather lately, we’ve been resorting to making sensory bins to help Jack get the sensory input his little body craves. When he grew tired of water beads, we moved onto kinetic sand.

We love sensory bins for their ability to encourage open-ended play. As an added benefit, I am able to cook dinner and do dishes while Jack enjoys a new sensory experience. Although I typically try and let him “be” when he plays in sensory bins, I tend to stay nearby to provide encouragement and (let’s be honest) prevent huge messes.


Kinetic sand is incredibly expensive at the store, but oh so cool. I decided to try my hand at DIY kinetic sand instead. There are lots of recipes on the internet for making kinetic sand. The one I chose to try involved mixing fine sand, flour, and oil together. Here’s a picture of the ingredients I used. The flour and oil I got from the dollar store. I found a 20 lb bag of sand for about $24 at PetsMart.


2 & 1/2 cups sand

1 & 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

  1. Mix sand and flour together and stir in vegetable oil.


This was moldable, but definitely not like the kinetic sand you find at the store. I had to double the amount of oil to get it to the consistently I wanted. This will work for now, but I’ll be on the lookout for better recipes in the future.


I am actually pretty happy with the way this turned out. Since Jack is somewhat of a sensory bin pro, I wanted to liven up his bin with new textures. His interest in dinosaurs had peaked which is why I chose this theme.

The base is the “kinetic” sand I made last night. I think I’ll call it moldable sand instead. The river is sand slime which has the coolest texture. I dyed some water beads to serve as a watering hole and added some clear rocks for an added texture. Lastly, I threw a couple of dinosaurs and some play doh utensils.



Jack, normally a stimuli seeker, turns into an avoider when he encounters new sensory experiences. He was excited about the dinosaurs but didn’t quite know what to think about all the different textures in the bin. Here, you can see him cautiously checking out the sand.

He was pretty cautious about the whole experience at first, picking up each individual item to inspect it. Since he seemed resistant to molding the sand, I encouraged him to use a play fork instead.



After about half an hour, he discovered the little cup of dyed water beads. At first, he was upset that his hands were turning blue from the freshly dyed beads. He seemed to calm down once I gave him a wet cloth to wipe his hands when  he wanted. Sensory processing issues are a strange thing. This kid will jump off of practically anything, but becomes distressed when his hands are “dirty.”


I think our dinosaur sensory bin was a success. Jack played with it for a whole hour and was able to tolerate some sensory issues he normally avoids (dirty hands). I am hoping to find a better kinetic sand recipe and a way to color clear water beads without turning his hands blue. The balls that flew out of the bin were easy to pick up and the sand vacuumed right up with my upright Dyson (I love this thing).



If anyone is interested in purchasing the core materials in the dinosaur sensory bin, you can do so here: InsightfulParent Etsy Shop.


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What is your favorite kinetic sand recipe? What is your favorite way to color water beads without staining hands?

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