DIY Kids: Ocean Life Sensory Bin

The Life Aquatic-1

–     In May my 2-Year-Old was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism.  At first my husband and I were a bit scared, but it did not take us long to realize it would be fine.  Our son is wonderful, he just thinks differently. Despite my optimism,  I recognize that all of my years as an educator and mom really have not prepared me for the lack of stability and understanding that comes with dealing with an autistic child.  As I try to navigate our days, it becomes clear that routines individuals normally take for granted, such as taking a bath or brushing ones teeth, are a daily struggle for my son.

Angel and whole ocean bin

–     After his initial diagnosis I began a hunt to find anything to help him with his learning journey.  In a strange way I was helping myself too.  Entering his early stages of  Speech and Occupational therapy I wanted to provide him with some activities at home that would be supportive.  For years, with different children I have created sensory bins and bottles.  One of our family favorites are bins that contain water beads. Water Beads are soothing, a little slimy and a lot of fun.

–     For my son, this type of bin is perfect to get him adjusted to not only water but different textures.  With our ocean bin we also worked on words and colors.  You can create themed sensory bins for almost anything.  I also purchased some special tools called Handy Scoopers (pictured below) to help with fine motor skills.  They are shaped liked scissors which will be a great way to teach my four-year-old the correct way to hold scissors since she starts preschool in the fall.

Learning Resources Handy Scoopers available at
Angel and Ocean Bin
Tip: Be patient. It took my son almost two hours before he would even go near the bin. Once he did he enjoyed playing and I was overjoyed.
baileigh ocean bin tools
Notice her hands holding the scissors correctly. We had to come inside because of rain so my lighting is a bit off.

To create your own Ocean Water Sensory Bin you will need the following:

1.  One Under Bed Tote

  • I recommend purchasing your tote with wheels in order to make moving your bins easier.  We often go from indoor to outdoor. We purchased our bin from Lowe’s for $19.99 but Home Depot also carries them, they were sold out when we looked.    I like the bigger tote since I have multiple kids playing with the bins at once and it gives us more room.

2.  Jelly BeadZ® 4 COLOR- MAKE YOUR OWN OCEAN -Water Bead gel 4 PACKS of 5 grams per pack

  • I purchased 2 packs of the Jelly BeadZ HERE for our 70 qt tote but you could get away with one if you purchase the 41qt tote.

3.  Assorted Ocean Sea Animals and Shells


4.  Water


–     Place your beads in the bin.  They will be hard, small, and you will not believe there are enough…there are.  Add enough water to fill up a little over 1/4 of the bin.  All of your beads should be immersed in water.

water bead ocean diy step one
When we first put the beads in water.
2 hours in
Two Hours in and the size had already quadrupled.
close up ocean bin
Eight Hours Later

– Wait six to eight hours for your beads to grown, add your ocean animals and shells.  Have Fun!

Baileigh Ocean bin


One thought on “DIY Kids: Ocean Life Sensory Bin

  1. A very good friend of mine has a son with Autism she is wonderful with him he is alert, bright, goes to school, is now 7 y.o. with a 4 y.o. sister that he adores. She started a chapter locally for Autistic children and parents to help them first adjust, to understand, to help their child live in the world God created for them. Yes, there were many struggles along the way but do not despair there are tremendous support and helping aids to develop these children. When I see him he hugs, speaks, and loves to swim in our pool!!! The lil’ guy is amazing! Happy 4th Jenny to you and your family!

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