Wetlands & Water Play Sensory Bins for Science

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I LOVE using sensory play to strengthen what we learn in science like this Wetlands & Water Play Water Sensory bin. It’s a great way to learn on multiple platforms and levels! Plus it’s easy to change up and alter slightly giving the kids a whole new sensory bin to play with!

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Bins

My daughter is 3 years old and this is SUCH a fun age! Everything is a new adventure for her and she just LOVES learning and exploring! Frogs and dinosaurs have been some of her favorite animals lately so I decided to put together several different frog sensory bins for her to play with.

This is a fun way to incorporate learning numbers, colors and letters too! 

Water Play Sensory Bin Material Suggestions:


water beads
animal toys
faux grass
dirt / sand
food coloring
craft foam (for lily pads)

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

The great thing about water play is that you can absolutely do it indoors and outdoors – no matter what the weather is like! Since it’s still winter and quite cold here we decided to feature indoor water play bins.

I stopped in at the dollar store and picked up a bunch of supplies and ordered the rest (like faux grass and water beads) on Amazon.

The same container for water play can be changed to different habitats and animals OR you can pick up different containers dedicated to each habitat! (rainforest, ocean, etc.)

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

I had been saving a good sized bag of water beads to fill my daughter’s sand & water table with when the weather warmed up but I grabbed a handful to use with our sensory bins! She went CRAZY over these water beads!

If your kids are older you can use water beads to represent algae, tadpoles, or anything else you’re studying!

**NOTE – I do NOT recommend using these if you have small children that will ingest them!

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

We made several different habitat bins. The first was our river sensory bin! I used green craft foam and cut out a circle, then cut a small pie shaped wedge out to create lily pads. On the bottom of the lily pads I write numbers on to incorporate counting and math games.

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

The awesome thing about the craft foam is that is floats on water and the Sharpie marker on the bottom doesn’t rub off when it gets wet! We started out playing with just the water, rocks, lily pads and frogs.

This sensory bin above (minus the lily pads) was great play with an otter and/or a seal! You can add some sand too to make it more realistic!

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Bins

When my daughter seemed to be tiring of it then I added the water beads! That provided hours more fun and she has been constantly going back to her water play bin every single day to play.

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

Once we get a bigger container (or use her sand & water table) I picked up these larger ocean animals to play with!

Wetlands Water Play with Ellie the Explorer: Water Sensory Play

Next we decided to move on to the rainforest! This Rainforest Sensory bin is super fun because it provides an additional sensory experience – moss! The moss is squishy and weird feeling for little kids and provides a great exploration for older kids. I used the poison dart from our TOOB and added a few smooth river stones too.

TIP: Take a plastic cup and poke small holes in the bottom. Then fill it with water and you have created rain as the water pours out of the bottom! 

Other Water Play Sensory Bin Ideas:

Penguins – water, container, penguins, blue food dye & ice!
Ocean – water, container, seashells, salt, sand, animals, boat, blue food dye
Swamp – water, container, moss, alligator, fish, sticks, water beads, green food dye
Cranberry Bog – water, container, moss, cranberries, turkey baster (for adding and removing water)
Pond/Lake – water, container, fish, sand/dirt, boat, lily pads, sticks, water beads

Make Your Own Slime Recipe - TMNT Party IdeaHomemade Play Dough RecipeDIY Make Your Own Sensory Kinetic Sand Recipe
salt dough leaf ornament holidayFree Printable Dinosaur Play Dough Mat - Numbers 1-10Apple Play Dough Mats

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  1. This is such a good idea. I have a granddaughter that would love learning about wetlands by using these ideas. Thank you!

  2. sian ryan says:

    What a fantastic idea with so many possibilities!! This would keep my niece entertained for hours

  3. Cia Black says:

    This is fabulous and one I’m going to have to share with a toddler time coordinator. I think the children will love to have this available for them in the water table.

  4. Quirky Homemaker says:

    These are great ideas for water sensory bins. Love all of the different ideas you’ve listed. My kids are too old for these now, but I’ve loved that you’ve listed different video ideas for older children.

  5. Noelle Lynne says:

    What a wonderful idea, my niece would really really love this! Going to pass this along to my sister and hopefully she will do it when the little one is old enough!

  6. Jennifer Prince says:

    This is such a great idea! And I am sure it would keep the kids entertained for hours and be fairly inexpensive, too. So fun!

  7. Yesterday, my son and I were giving bath to animal toys too. 🙂 They love this game so much! Anything with water – and they can play forever…

  8. What great, fun ideas! As a homeschooling mom I’m always looking for ways to make learning more hands-on. I love the idea of the sensory one!

  9. Journa Ramirez says:

    Perfect way to let your kids learn and play at the same time! I’ll let my children play with these!

  10. Doreen Pinto says:

    Looks fun especially for kids. Great way to keep them busy and learn a skill at the same time.

  11. Kelly Edgar says:

    I love this! What a great idea, a great way to explore and learn about animals and the environment, my nephews and nieces would love this 😀

  12. Elizabeth O says:

    I love this creative idea, it is great for sensory processing and learning through play.

  13. This looks like so much fun, especially the frog bin. What is the minimum age for this because I have a niece who is little over a year old now.

  14. Lisa Rios says:

    This is a great idea! I remember when I was younger I loved water beads LOL… this looks like a great learning tool, it’s important to get them started early with math

  15. Twinspirational says:

    What a fun activity. Our niece and nephew would love this. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Great fun ideas, il be sure to try them out with my kids. Thanks.

  17. What a great idea for little ones! Fun and educational at the same time.

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