These bat sensory bins are perfect during a bat or nocturnal animals theme, or in conjunction with your favorite batty books. You can even include them in your Halloween activities for preschoolers, but they’d be great any time of year.
Related: Bat Crafts and Activities
Bat Sensory Bins
Below you’ll find three bat-themed sensory bin ideas to try with your students. You can even use some of the same materials to create multiple bins if you’d like!
Each of these bat sensory activities offers a variety of learning opportunities for your students. And they’re customizable, so you can adjust things based on your kids’ interests and the materials you already have on-hand.
Stellaluna-Inspired Night Sky Sensory Bin
The first of our bat sensory bins was inspired by one of our favorite bat books, Stellaluna. The idea behind it is black bats flying through the dark night sky. This is a great sensory activity to use when talking about animal camouflage!
Night Sky Sensory Bin Materials
These are the materials we used. I’m all about reusing items from sensory bins, if at all possible. It keeps things affordable, shows kids creative thinking, and helps reduce waste. So this fun bin has a few items from our Star Wars sensory bin.
Please keep in mind that you can make adjustments to these materials as you see fit.
Black Bat Sensory Bin Directions
Start things off by dyeing your sensory materials, the chickpeas and the bowtie pasta. We used And Next Comes L’s rainbow chickpeas method for the black garbanzo beans, and it worked beautifully! To dye the bowtie pasta black, I placed a handful of the pasta into a bag and squirted in some black liquid watercolors. I recommend checking to make sure the dye has spread across most of the pasta. It’s not that big of a deal if it isn’t, but we preferred when the “bats” were completely black.
While you’re waiting for the beans and pasta to dry, grab the foam sheet. Cut out a moon shape for your bin. If you’d like to add stars, you can cut those out too. We decided to use the yellow craft gems as stars the first time we made this bin. Pre-cut foam stars are a great choice, too.
Once all of your materials are ready, it’s time to put the bin together. Pour the chickpeas into a bin and add the moon and stars to create a night sky effect. Then place the pasta bats in the “sky” and add any sensory tools you’d like to make available.
Twilight Bat Sensory Bin
Next up in our trio of bat sensory bins is one based upon the twilight sky. The term twilight is used to describe the time between day and night when the sun is below the horizon (near sunset and sunrise). I love the beautiful colors that result, what about you?
Materials for Twilight Sensory Play
We used some of the same items as the previous bin, with a few extra additions!
Just like with the night sky bin, you can make adjustments as you prefer. If possible, talk with the children about the colors they see at twilight. Then you can create a sensory invitation based on those colors, or the colors the children suggest.
Directions for a Colorful Bat Sensory Bin
Start off by dyeing the rice in twilight colors. We used purple, turquoise, and orange liquid watercolors for our bin. You can just choose one color to focus on if you prefer. To dye the rice, place a cup into a baggie or container. Then add in a little bit of liquid watercolors. Seal the baggie or container and shake to disperse the color. Add more liquid watercolors if needed. Then lay the rice on a tray until fully dry.
To make the bowtie bats, do the same as above but with black liquid watercolors. You’ll need to be more intentional to ensure that the coloring gets in all the pasta crevices. Just like the rice, make sure the black bowtie pasta is allowed to dry completely.
Then it’s time to assemble the batty sensory tray! Pour the rice in, arranging it by color if you’d like to. Place the bats in the twilight sky. And finally, add some sensory tools as desired. Then sit back and watch your students play and have fun!
Color-Matching Bat Sensory Bin
The last of our bat sensory bins is a little different than the prior two. This one is all about colors and color sorting!
As I mentioned, this bin is a little different. If you want to, you can incorporate some of those materials into this sensory invitation. It’s totally up to you!
- Black beans
- Toy bats (black, purple, green, orange)
- Pompoms (black, purple, green, orange)
- Craft sticks (black, purple, green, orange)
- Pipe cleaner pieces (black, purple, green, orange)
- Buttons (black, purple, green, orange)
Little bat rings would make a great substitute for the bat toys seen here! Depending on where you live, they might be easier to find.
Color Sorting Sensory Bin Directions
Out of all the bat sensory bins, this one definitely has the simplest directions!
First, add the black beans to a bin or tray. Then add the bats and other materials. Boom! That’s it! Then the children can play and sort and have a blast.
Playing and Learning with Bat Sensory Bins
Now that you have three bat sensory bins to choose from, you just have to decide which one to make first! Maybe you and your students will only make and use one of the bins. That’s perfectly fine! Or maybe you’ll try all three of the activities! It really just depends on your preferences, the kids’ interests, and the materials you have available.
You can even jazz up the bat bins in so many different ways:
- Vary the sensory tools you add – scoops, tweezers, spoons, funnels, etc.
- Add some alphabet manipulatives, like magnetic letters
- Put some alphabet cards in the bins
- Place printable number cards in with the bats
- Add shapes or printable bat shape cards
- Place different types of “bats”
No matter what you decide, your students will definitely enjoy themselves. AND they’ll be learning along the way. Here are some of the concepts children can practice while playing with the bat-themed bins:
- Color identification
- Sensory exploration
- One-to-one correspondence
- Fine motor skills
- Language development
- Volume and capacity
- Visual discrimination
- Letter identification
The above lists are definitely not exhaustive! And your students will find so many different ways to interact with the materials. They’ll pour and scoop and transfer. They’ll use sensory tools, as well as their hands, to explore. Some will focus on how things feel, while others will be more interested in the colors, shapes, or sounds. Some kids will want to count and put things in order, while others will be more focused on the sensory aspects of the bins.
How will your students play and explore with the bat sensory bins?
More Stellaluna Activities
If you and your students loved the bat sensory bins, they might get into these Stellaluna-inspired ideas too:
Bat Math and Sight Word Games from The OT Toolbox
Stellaluna Busy Bag from Craftulate
Bat Snack for Kids from Still Playing School
Stellaluna Bat Craft from Toddler Approved
Bat Number Line Games from Rainy Day Mum
Bat Books for Preschool
Pair your bat sensory bins with some bat-themed books! Here are some ideas to get you started:
What are some of your favorite bat books?
Bat Preschool Lesson Plans
Let Preschool Teacher 101 save you time with fully-developed, done-for-you resources!
Our bat lesson plans include over 240 pages containing weekly lesson plans, detailed daily plans, book suggestions, whole group ideas, small group and center activities, and related printables.
Originally published September 2015.