Princess Sensory Bin: Letter Recognition Activity

Pink and purple rice, gems, jeweled butterflies, and felt letters came together to make this princess sensory bin: our new favorite sensory activity!

In true islander fashion, rice is the one thing I always keep stocked in our kitchen. I could live off of rice for every meal, and I gave birth to a tiny rice lover. Even with a pretend play magic wand, the first wish she will always make is “chicken one two three rice!” like we don’t have chicken and rice for dinner 4 days a week! While we do love to eat rice, it has also become our favorite sensory bin material. I now hear “rice please mama!” multiple times a day, and have to guess if she’s hungry or wants to play!

Our last Spring sensory bin has been used many, many times with plenty of scavenger hunts completed. It’s so easy to set up and most days I leave the bin on her craft table so she has full access to it whenever she wants to play. She’s pretty good at keeping the rice inside, but after 7+ months of playing the bin was running low. She has recently finally started watching classic Disney movies and is obsessed with princess, and I knew it would be the perfect new theme for our sensory bin.

Materials Needed

  • rice
  • liquid watercolors
  • jeweled butterflies
  • gem shaped beads
  • jumbo tweezers
  • felt letters
  • letter activity mat

Making the Rice

If you’ve read my DIY posts I know you’re probably sick of hearing me say it, but I HATE food coloring. So I will always use liquid watercolors. I have a full tutorial on how I dye our rice HERE

I buy our sensory bin rice at the dollar store, and used two bags for the princess sensory bin. Princesses make me think of pink and purple, am I the only one? Purple is Aaliyah’s current weekly favorite so she was ecstatic to see purple rice! I poured the rice into two bowls, and added a few drops of liquid water colors and vinegar. In order for this to be successful you have to have really concentrated watercolors, because not enough won’t create bright colors and too much liquid will make your rice smell! Let your rice dry overnight, making sure all the liquid is gone before you pour it into your bin.

Playing with our Princess Sensory Bin

When I poured the rice into the bin, I kept the two colors separate. She loves when I do this because mixing the colors together can be a fun activity in itself! Keeping with our princess sensory bin theme, I sprinkled in some giant “gems” and “diamond” butterflies she mixed in as well.

Once the colors were mixed together I gave her the giant tweezers. She loves using them to sift through the rice and grab the treasures she finds. This is a great opportunity to work on counting, sorting, and color identification! She separates them into the gems and butterflies, and tells me each color she finds. If I let her she would do this all day, mixing and grabbing and hiding again. It’s really the only time she is ever completely quiet and sits still!

Letter Recognition Activity

While this simple activity could keep her occupied for a long time, I have really been wanting to work on letter recognition with her. I thought this would be the perfect activity to use our new mini felt letter set and alphabet activity mat!

I mixed the letters into the sensory bin, and placed the mat next to her on the table. She took the tweezers and would find each letter, and then find the letter on her  mat. The letters match each other, making it easy for her to place the letters in the correct order. With each letter I would say the letter and a word that started it, and had her repeat each. This was such a fun and challenging activity to add to our princess sensory bin! She loved it and has found the bag of letters and redumped it into the bin when playing on her own.

Of course now the sensory bin has found plenty of new Aaliyah designed activities! She has made princess tea, made musical instruments, and it has become a new castle for her hatchimals! I love these easy set up activities that encourage open ended thinking and creates new opportunities to express herself creatively.

What’s your favorite sensory bin material? Do you like sticking with bin themes?

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  1. Hi Lexi,
    Oh my gosh, how have I not heard of sensory bins before? I absolutely love this idea. Not only does it provide a fun learning experience but you also get to be creative in coming up with different bin ideas.
    I’ve pinned this for when my little girl is older! xx

  2. This looks like so much fun!!! Maybe I’ll put some legos in there for my boys.

  3. Mandy says:

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE this bin idea!! This is so perfect for my girly toddler!

  4. I’ve never heard of sensory bins before. What a great idea! Seems like a good, but easy amount of prep and potential cleanup is involved. However, the learning opportunity is worth it!

  5. michellesillery says:

    What a fantastic idea. Your little darling must have so much fun with this & hopefully Mummy gets a little break too 🙂

  6. This is a great idea and very princess looking. I like rice for sensory bin activities. Easy to use and get.

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