Home Christmas Make a sea-inspired, ocean-themed sensory container
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Make a sea-inspired, ocean-themed sensory container

by Ünal Güler

Today we’re doing one Sensory bath by the sea for children! It’s so much fun and perfect for young children. This homemade sensory bin activity uses items you probably already have at home and can help kids cherish memories from a recent beach vacation or explore the touches they can experience being near the ocean.

Seaside Ocean Homemade Sensory Trash Can for Kids - Kids Activities Blog
Let’s build an ocean-themed sensory container to play with!

Sensory Ocean Tank

This idea came to me after returning from a vacation by the sea. I thought creating a sensory container for sensory play inspired by our trip would be a way to keep that holiday spirit long after we’ve returned home from the sea.

Related: More sensory containers you can craft

How do I create an ocean sensory tank?

We used some of our collected treasures while beachcombing to create an imaginary sea in the sensory bin upon our return.

We started with a container that was big enough for a couple of kids to play together, but still easy to transport so we can use it indoors and out. We found an under bed storage box to be ideal.

This post contains affiliate links.

The seaside seaside sensory container made at home with rice, toys, seashells and more
Almost like sitting on the beach!

You may also have these items from a recent vacation, but don’t worry if you don’t! You can get them by clicking on the affiliate links used in this article.

Materials required to craft a sensory container by the sea

We went to a white pebble beach on our vacation, so we filled our tub with white rice to recreate it. You could also use sand or try this idea for one rock pool that I love from Nurture Store.

Then we added all the treasures we had collected to create many sensory textures and play possibilities: driftwood, pebbles, seashells, dried seaweed.

Instructions for making a sensory container by the sea

Homemade Ocean Themed Sensory Trash Can for Kids - Kids Activities Blog
Our seaside sensory tank invited lots of toys onto our homemade vacation beach!

Step 1

Pour the rice (or sand) into the plastic container filling it up at least a few inches.

When kids can feel something under the rice (or sand) but can’t see it, just detecting things by touch helps them get the best sensory experience.

step 2

Add the shells, shovels or shovels and other toys.

This can be a sensory container that grows over time! You don’t have to immediately fill it with touch-and-feel items.

Recreate Sea Senses at Home with Sensory Trash Can - Kids Activities Blog - Kids collect seashells on the beach
Recreate your sea vacation experience at home!

Our experience with the Ocean Sensory Bin

I’ve found that younger kids might love just having fun touching and exploring all the beach items in the tub. My girls love creating imaginary lands, so they brought their favorite characters along for a picnic day by the sea.

This type of play gives children the opportunity to recreate adventures they have had while on vacation, tell stories and practice new languages, as well as learn how to work with a friend to have fun together.

Ocean Preschool Sensory Bin

Sensory Containers for Kids with Rice - Kids Activity Blog - three sensory containers filled with rice
Oh, so many fun sensory containers to make!
  • A sensory ocean bucket is a fun way to practice fine motor skills, allows children to explore their sense of touch and encourages imaginative play.
  • Plus it would be a fun ocean lesson. A sea-themed sensory container can open the door to teach them about sea creatures, sea turtles, small sea creatures, and the coral reef.
  • You can add extra things for older kids like glass beads to their ocean sensing bin activity. And perhaps more fragile ocean-themed items like a sand dollar.
  • Adding some sensory sand to this ocean themed sensory container would be a great addition.


  • Uncooked rice or fine play sand

  • Plastic bucket for storage under the bed for more than one child, plastic tableware for one child – You can also use a plastic bucket with a lid if you want to store it for several days of play

  • Collection of seashells

  • (Optional) Pieces of driftwood (small)

  • (Optional) Pebble

  • Small plastic shovels, sand scoops or cooking spoons

  • (Optional) Small toy


  1. Pour the rice (or sand) into the plastic container filling it up at least a few inches.
  2. Add the shells, shovels or shovels and other toys
  3. Have fun!

More Sensory Bin ideas for kids from the Kids Activities Blog:

In case you ever wondered How can I tell if my child has sensory issues?…we were there!

What was your favorite part of making an ocean sensory container?

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