Ultra Fun Pirate Sensory Bin {for Toddlers and Preschoolers}

Are your kids ready for a change in their sensory bin?

You should make a fun pirate sensory bin. This sensory bin can spark the imagination of your kids and have them digging for buried treasure all afternoon. 

This is also a great activity for Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th or a pirate-themed birthday party.

pirate themed sensory bin

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Not only is it a great way to occupy some of their time but sensory bins also work on fine motor skills, object permanence, and working memory. 

I’ll give you the instructions on how to put together the Pirate Sensory Bin and some pirate day activities for your toddlers and preschoolers.


This sensory bin is so easy to put together. Here’s what we used or you can feel free to improvise with your own items.

pirate day activities supplies

How to Make a Pirate Sensory Bin

1 – Start by taking your dishpan or tub and add your colored rice to it. You want your colored rice to be about half of the depth of the pan. If you don’t want to use rice kinetic sand is another great choice.

Rice will spill out more often if the pan is overfilled. Half the depth of the pan is sufficient to bury pirate treasure and dig it up without constantly spilling.

We used two colors in ours to make land and water but you can use just one color if you prefer.

rice for pirate sensory bin

2 – Once your colored rice is added in there you can set up the toys in an inviting way. Pirates, coins, jewels, and treasure boxes are the ideal thing to get your kids digging around.

You can even hide one special item for them to find. Or turn it into a scavenger hunt by giving them a list of items to find.

pirate sensory bin for toddlers & preschoolers

3 – Add the scoops, spoons, and small bowls or boxes to transfer and pour the rice and toys back and forth.  This is great for improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Learning Opportunities

A sensory bin is a great opportunity for free play for young kids, but not all will initiate free play.

Here are a few pirate activities for toddlers and preschoolers to get them playing with the sensory bin.

Take Turns Burying Treasure

Tap into your inner pirate by playing buried treasure.  The adult should take the first turn burying the treasure. 

Either have your toddler or preschooler close their eyes or go in another room and take some jewels or doubloons and bury them. 

You can either bury them all in one spot or just push them down in the colored rice all over.

If you bury it in one big cache, you guide your preschooler or even toddler through digging out the treasure using directional cues like a little left, now a little further ahead, closer to me, a little right. 

Once they dig up all the treasure it’s your turn to dig up some treasure. Hide your eyes and have them bury the treasure.

Counting Your Treasure

Any time I can sneak in some counting with my toddlers or preschoolers, I do. And what could be more fun than counting up your treasure. 

You can take this a step further by comparing two treasures. You could count two sets of coins to see which is bigger or which is smaller. You could compare jewels to coins, which one do you have more of? 

You can also count the number of scoops of rice it took to unbury the treasure. Another option is counting paces to the treasure. In many pirate stories, treasure maps are marked by how many steps it is to a treasure. So you can let your child walk their pirate to where the treasure is buried by counting the steps. 

Small World Play with Pirates

Remember playing with dolls or action figures all the time as a child? Remember setting up elaborate worlds for them to interact with? 

That is small world play. It’s an important part of your child’s early development. 

Small world play helps children develop reasoning, problem-solving, developing social skills, and emotional development. 

This pirate sensory bin is a great way to set up some small world play with your toddler or preschooler.  

Using the pirates to talk to each other encourages interpersonal social skills, learning to take turns, and learning to have contextual conversations. 

Also in small world play with your pirate sensory bin, they can act out scenes and ideas encouraging their imagination.

More Fun for Talk like a Pirate Day

Another activity that you can do while playing with the pirate sensory bin is to talk like a pirate! 

Talking like a pirate can be so fun and it’s a good vocabulary building experience. 

While pirate words probably won’t come up in day-to-day conversation, playing with new pirate vocabulary can help your child practice sound blends that don’t come up as frequently in everyday speech. 

You can use the following pirate words with your little pirates when playing: 

  • Avast ye: Pay attention
  • Hornswoggle: To Cheat
  • Shiver me timbers: used to show disbelief
  • Landlubber: someone who isn’t used to being at sea
  • Ahoy: Hello
  • Matey: Friend
  • Booty: Treasure
  • Doubloons: the gold coins 
  • Buccaneer: a Pirate
  • Heave Ho: telling someone to put more strength and effort out 
  • Scallywag: an insult
  • Thar she blows: what you say when you see a whale
  • Yo Ho Ho: a kind of cheer

Share these new words with your preschooler or toddler to make playing with your pirate sensory bin even more fun. You are likely to have them laughing so hard. And all the while they are working on letter blends like sw and rn and ar words.

Sensory bins are great fun for young children. This Pirate Sensory Bin will take your children on a swashbuckling adventure. 

Follow us on Pinterest for more great crafts & activities for kids.

Pirate Sensory Bin

Talk like a Pirate day activity

Thanks for sharing!

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