Ocean Beach Sensory Bin Activity

Now that summer is winding down and the trips to the beach are becoming less frequent, I thought it was a good time to “bring” the beach to us during sensory play.

As you’ve seen lately, my toddler loves sensory stimulation — it gives him a chance to learn through play and engage his imagination.  I also love how calm he becomes when he is able to focus on a simple activity like pouring water, digging dirt or squishing gelatin.

Related: Shark Week Sensory Bin

Beach Bin: Sensory Activity

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Here’s what we used to create a beach-themed world:

  • Blue Jell-O
  • Trail Mix Cookie Crumbs
  • Spaghetti
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Variety of Sea Shells
  • Miniature Sea Creatures

Here’s what we did:

To create the blue ocean, I used a small storage bin and followed the directions for blue Jell-O. The bin I used was a bit deep, so would suggest using something less tall. Once the Jell-O had set overnight, I added plastic palm trees retrieved from our toy box.

jelloNext, I took some stale (trail mix) cookies from the pantry and crumbled them over one end of the bin to create the sand. The trail mix was great for creating that chunky texture we got.

cookie crumb mix

cookie crumb sand

For more excitement and vivid colors, I decided to add “seaweed” by cooking a handful of spaghetti pasta.  Once the pasta was cooked and dried, I combined it with a few drops of food coloring and shook it in a plastic ziplock bag. We set the color with some vinegar and rubbing alcohol and let the pasta sit for a few hours before laying out to dry.


To complete the beach, I added various size seashells and plastic sea creatures (shark, dolphin, starfish, sting rag, lobster etc.) purchased via Amazon.

shell and animals

I love how vibrant everything turned out…really did “bring the beach home” for us!

ocean beach

It provided an assortment of textures and shapes to explore, and at the same time was a perfect way to let my son engage in small world play with the sea creatures. He especially loved making the sting ray and shark dive into the water, hehe!

beach bin sensory play

Although there was a bit of a sticky mess to clean up once play time was over, we had fun squishing the Jell-O around and spraying it with a hose!

What type of sensory bins have your children explored this summer?

You may also enjoy:

Looking for shark week activities for kids? This simple shark sensory bin requires minimal supplies and provides tons of fun!

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  1. I love this sensory bin! It’s so pretty and educative at the same time!

  2. This is so beautiful!! I wish I could do things like this, but i am so not crafty at all
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  3. This looks amazing and so much fun! I would be a little worried my son would try to eat ALL of the jello and cookie crumbs though. Did your son taste any?
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  4. Love, love, love this! I have a 13 month old grand daughter, and I know she would adore this! You left the jello in the bin, right? Then you closed the lid and left it for next time? Do you play with it outside?

    • Thanks Melinda :). I actually didn’t leave the jello in the bin because it got too messy after being play with — cleaned it out afterwards. But would be a good thing to consider if it’s left intact for reuse!

  5. Pinning this for next summer ~ it looks like so much fun!
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  6. This is an absolutely fabulous idea! I love all the play and creativity you can have with this! Awsome!
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  7. This is honestly so adorable! I love the spaghetti seaweed, what a cute touch. The cookie sand turned out awesome too. I may have to give this a shot! 🙂
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  8. I love the jello for the ocean and the cookie crumbs for the sand – what a great sensory idea!
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  9. What a fantastic sensory activity – very creative! Thanks for linking up over at the #homematters Linky Party! We hope to see you again this coming Wednesday 🙂
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  10. This is such a cute idea, I love the dyed spaghetti. Even adults would like to play in this.
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