Gardening Sensory Bins

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We planted seeds recently. I knew the girls would enjoy watching the seeds grow, and I’m hoping together we can keep them alive long enough to actually see a plant bloom or produce something edible. You see, I don’t have much of  a green thumb!

Although my success at gardening is minimal, I do love it. Cathy James from NurtureStore published The Garden Classroom, a phenomenal book full of ideas for gardening, crafts and activities to do with kids, and there are so many that I am excited to do with my girls. Click here to view more details about the book or purchase your own copy.

That first day we planted seeds I expected the girls to have fun, but I didn’t really anticipate how much the girls would enjoy digging in the potting soil. Honestly I could have just given them a big pot full of soil and left them to play for the afternoon. They would have loved it. In fact, they did play for a while on their own that first day before we planted the seeds.

Then I read some tips in The Garden Classroom about creating a Pretend Play Potting Shed, and that got me thinking about creating a garden sensory bin to keep outside throughout spring.  That way the girls can have fun planting and replanting their own gardens over and over again. This has also turned out to be a great way to keep Tinker (2 years old) from digging up the sprouts we see in our newly planted garden.

Our Garden Sensory Bin

Garden Pretend Play


  • Container of choice
  • Potting soil
  • Watering cans
  • Spray bottle
  • Toy Worms (We found ours in the fishing department on sale.)
  • Seed packets with an assortment of seeds
  • Small gardening tools
  • Small pots
  • Toy vegetables (Our carrots are from the Dollar Tree.)
  • Fake (or real) plants and flowers


I wanted our bin to be raised so the girls could stand, and I also wanted a way to have a separate space for the pots and gardening tools so they could be kept separate from the soil. While scanning for something I saw our wagon, and I thought it had potential. I ended up putting the potting soil in a plastic container. Then I placed the plastic container inside of the wagon. This left just enough room for other gardening and potting accessories. It is also raised off the ground so the girls can stand as they are gardening.

Another benefit of using the wagon is that we can move it around the yard. In the evening we can pull it into a sheltered area away from the sprinklers. We can also move it to shady areas when it is too hot and sunny areas when it is too cold. And it’s become a traveling flower and vegetable stand a time or two.

Assembled Bin

I wasn’t sure how the girls would feel about the worms being added to the bin, even if they weren’t real. They typically scatter quickly when any sort of bug or underground creature surfaces. However, before I even opened the packages they were both begging to touch the worms. So as we were getting breakfast together they played with their worms. They counted them, put them in rows, made letters with them, and acted out stories with them. Maybe there’s a W is for Worms theme in our future! But for now the worms found a happy home in the gardening sensory bin.

Playing with worms

This was how our bin looked before the girls started to play.

Garden Sensory Bin

As soon as I said the garden was open for discovery, they were both excited to get started.  Lovey (age 4) started planting seeds and putting flowers in pots. Tinker filled the carrot containers with seeds and experimented with the sounds they made. Soon they were watering their plants and deep in pretend play. I’m sure this is a bin we’ll enjoy having for play throughout the spring.

Garden Bin for Kids

More Inspiration for Your Gardening Sensory Bin

When I’m putting together a new sensory bin, I always love to look around and gather ideas. I found a few very unique sensory bins around the web.

Garden Sensory Tub and Free Printable Garden Preschool Pack  (Homeschool Creations)

Flower Garden Sensory Tub (Nurturing Naters)

Garden Sensory Bin (Growing Up Our Style)

Scented Gardening Sensory Play and Flower Shop (Growing a Jeweled Rose)

Gardening Sensory Bin (Mama Papa Bubba)

Rock Garden Sensory Bin (The Picky Apple)

Gardening Sensory Bin with Live Worms  (The Picky Apple)

Tutorial for Creating Vegetable Tops (Modern Parents Messy Kids)

Gardening Sensory Bin and Discovery Box with Watering Station (Rainbow Playhouse)

If you are on Pinterest, you might enjoy finding more inspiration on my Spring Activities for Kids and Garden Theme  Pinterest Boards

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  1. Thank you so much for this post! It is perfect. I am featuring it on my Sensory Benefits for Gardening with Kids post. Thank you for just a great resource.

  2. This looks like so much fun! I bet is being used over and over again. I pinned this post.

  3. I love miniature gardens, it’s something I used to do a lot as a child. Thank you for sharing on Gardening adventures I can not wait to do this with my two.

    • Shaunna says:

      Thank you! I think we’ll definitely set up a few variations of this over the years. It’s been a terrific addition to our gardening projects this spring.

  4. Your garden pretend play looks like so much fun!

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Hope to see you linked up again later today! Have a great weekend,
    Beth =-)

    • They have really been enjoying it…especially the surprise sprouts that surfaced this week. They’ve been digging and playing in it often, so even I was surprised that some of the seeds have sprouted up.

  5. Nevermind! Got it to work so I am featuring you tonight at Mom’s Library! 🙂

    • I’m sorry the picture was tricky to work with. I recently disabled right click and copy, so if that is messing things up let me know. I hate to make more work for you, but I appreciate the feature!

  6. Cute bin! Mine would have loved some real worms too! Lol Thanks forsharingat Mom’s Library!

    • Thanks! I am really debating doing a W is for Worms theme with the kids when we get there, but I just don’t know if I can get myself to do it. Yuck!

  7. Great idea using a wagon! Every time I have a sensory bin set up on a table, the kids as for it to be on the floor. A wagon seems like a happy medium.

    • My kids always seem to like the sensory bins on the floor, too. But this one has been well received. Even the baby stands and joins in the gardening.

  8. I love your Spring Sensory Bin, how fun!

  9. You are so smart to set that up in a wagon so that it can be moved depending on the weather!! I will have to remember that when summer comes to our neck of the woods.
    Love the bin! My son spent many hours digging in potting soil last year so this year I’ll have to add some seeds.

    • Thanks! It turned out to be really convenient in the wagon, so I’m loving it. I was worried about the kids wanting to go on wagon rides, but everything can be pulled out in a second so that hasn’t been a problem. I’m sure Peanut will have tons of fun digging and gardening when summer comes this year…amazing how they grow and change from one summer to the next.

  10. Love your sensory bin! Pinned for future reference!

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