(Cars) Sensory Play – My Messy Box

(Cars) Sensory Play

Activity – Sensory Bin: Working On-Site


Part 1: Selecting the sensory base and choosing appropriate accessories


In this activity, we chose the black beans because they closely resembled the appearance of roads plus they make for easy clean-up, easy storage and are able to be kept for ages!


Furthermore, we complemented the black beans with other accessories such as transport related vehicles. The table below can be used as a guide when selecting the type of accessories that you wish to include in your sensory bin activity.


Accessory category

Actual item in bin


Theme-related item

Cars (from starter pack)

·       Allows child to connect words to their physical object and use their senses to explore the appearance, function, texture of the stated object

Associative object

Human figurine, Wooden traffic light, green push light, yellow push light

·       Allows child to associate other objects with the theme concept expand their vocabulary on words related to the theme (e.g. traffic light, traffic, junction, pedestrian)

Fine-motor instrument

Funnel, dustpan, black beans

·       Black beans – Allows child to experiment with different actions of manipulating black beans (pouring black beans into funnel and seeing the beans fall, using dustpan to sweep up the beans, exploring the effect of sound when black beans are dropped on different objects like metal/plastic/glass)



Part 2: Preparing the play area


When preparing the play area for your child, ensure that the sensory bin is in a safe and comfortable area for your child to play in. You may wish to lay out an attractive mat to signal sensory play time for your child i.e. any time that this mat is laid out, he/she can expect to play with a sensory bin and adhere to sensory play rules. Be firm and explicit with the sensory play rules. You may have to model practice of the rules for a couple of items before your child is able to do it independently.


(insert video to show set-up of bin and play area)


sensory rules



Part 3: Facilitating the play experience


Children in this age group find sensory bins fascinating as a medium to explore particular themes and concepts. To facilitate this raw curiosity, we encourage you to be a co-player in your child’s play experience where your child has the upper hand in leading the play experience. In order to preserve the authenticity of the play experience with your child, we list the following prompts that you may use during the play experience. At the same time, always remember to supplement verbal prompts with physical gestures.


Every child needs experiences that match his/her development, and a simple exploration activity with black beans perfect if your child is ready. When introducing new sensory fillers to your child for the first time, refrain from instructing your child on what to do with the product except to clarify that it is something to play with – not something to eat or throw. Other than making sure they do not eat or throw it, simply watch to see what they do with it. Good adult supervision consists of observing and encouraging self-initiated experiments that correspond to reasonable limits of play.


As it is commonly observed, some children are ready to plunge in and try anything while others are shy. If your child is too hesitant initially, you may let your child watch you explore the cup of black beans first. Simply encourage them that it perfectly alright to pinch it, poke it, pound it, and so on. Children are excellent at reading adult cues and imitating our actions. Since some children have learnt to avoid getting messy, show them how easy it is to clean up beans spilled on the floor. At times, they might just be practising how to clean up beans at first and that is perfectly okay too – it still constitutes as learning. If after a few attempts your child is still very hesitant about attempting to play with a new sensory filler, it may be best to wait and try it again each week/month until you feel comfortable with your child’s responses.





What colour is this bean?


Can I poke it?


What (item) is this for?


Can I eat it?

I don’t think that works very well, does it? Let’s try another way.


That’s not very nice throwing the beans everywhere, let’s try playing in the sensory bin nicely.


That was a good try at using the funnel to filter the beans. But shall we filter them neatly into a bottle/cup this time round?

I like how confident and initiative you are with sweeping up the spilled beans on the floor. Well done!


Are you trying to see if the push lights will form a traffic light? Keep up the creativity!


(points to push lights) Look these look like lights from the traffic light!



You may use this activity performance checklist to help guide you better when facilitating your child during play.


Downloadable of activity performance checklist: cars sensory activity performance checklist



Part 4: Refreshing the play experience


A play experience that has been set up for your child need not necessarily be a one-off experience. You can actually reuse the materials in multiple ways so as to provide a refreshing experience for him/her without having to crack your brain/wallet more. Here are some ways you can do so.


cars sensory setup

Caption: Other than using the items in the sensory pack, you may use the items found in your starter pack for a refreshed sensory experience.



Part 5: Encouraging clean-up


For sure, sensory play can get messy. But this is a good time to have your child started on cleaning up at the end of every play session. You may have to guide your child through the clean-up process.


Downloadable of clean-up chart:  clean up chart


Part 6: Storing


When your child signals the end of his exploration with the sensory bin, you may choose to do any from the following:


  • Reset the play set-up and leave it out for child to access it another time. We encourage you to do this as children should be given opportunities to revisit play experiences with new insights that he/she have gained over time.
  • Reset the play set-up differently and leave it out for child to access it another time. Refer to Part 4 on how to refresh the sensory bin.
  • Pack away the set-up. Have it ready on-hand for another play time. This set-up can be used as part of a toy rotation system that you may have at home.


Do refer to the chart below for an example of how a toy rotation system works.


(refer to previous activity part 4 download resource: toy rotation schedule)




Quick access to other activities:

Theme Introduction

Starter Play

Creative Play