Science Activity with Marbles in the Sensory Bin

A science activity is easy to create in the sensory bin with a marble and some everyday recyclables. Kids will love exploring these materials in the sensory bin for some awesome hands-on discovery.

sensory bin science for preschoolers

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It's easy to create a sensory bin with a large plastic container.  Simply add an interesting filler to provide an open invitation for kids to explore and discover hands-on.

Kids can mix and pour and dig and scoop with a variety of materials and tools. 

In this marble roll activity, we experiment with three different fillers. You can also use different sized marbles.

This sensory bin is fun for toddlers or preschoolers, and even older kids will love to give it a try. The activity combines science and sensory play for hands-on fun.

Here's how we did it!

Marble roll sensory bin activity


STEAM activity with a marble in the sensory bin!


This is a STEAM activity because it incorporates the following principles.

STEAM = science + technology + engineering + art + math

Kids can play and learn hands-on with fun activities like this science-in-the-sensory-bin activity.

Learn more about how these principles are realized in this activity at the end of the post.

Set up the experiment.

For this activity you will need a plastic tub to be used as a sensory bin, and a variety of fillers. 

We used a plastic container measuring 12 x 16 inches (30 x 40 cm) is suitable for this activity. Your child should be able to pick up and handle the bin comfortably with both hands.

We experimented with three different materials as fillers - bread ties, aluminum foil balls ,pompoms

Fillers should be small and lightweight so they slide around easily inside the bin, without adding too much extra weight for your child to hold. 

Bread ties

collect bread ties for a kids sensory bin activity with a marble



marble rolling through pompoms preschool activity


Aluminum foil balls

small pieces of aluminum foil rolled into balls are added to a small sensory bin for a preschool STEAM activit


The aluminum foil takes some time to roll but kids will love helping out with this part of the activity. The effort will help strengthen fine motor skills as kids pinch and roll the aluminum between their fingers.

Kids will use hand and finger muscles to hold the bin and and tip it from side to side for more fine motor work.

You can introduce another variable with three different sized balls - a small white plastic ball, a large marble, and a small marble. 


Conduct the experiment.

tip the container to roll the marble around with the pompoms


Add fillers one at a time to the bin. Add a ball or marble.

Tip the container to roll the marble through the filler.

Explore the ability of each marble or ball to roll through each filler. Observe other characteristics of, and differences between, the fillers and balls.

Which filler is the most colorful?

Which filler makes the most noise?

Which ball is the heaviest?


Observe results.

Compare results with the different sizes and weights of the balls in each filler.

This activity is only limited by your imagination. Variations in set up and results will depend on:

  • the type and quantity of material you use to fill the bin
  • the ball you use
  • the amount of twisting and turning you do as you rotate the bin


This activity engages the senses for interesting sensory experiences for preschoolers.

Senses are engaged by:

  • observing the colors
  • adding the materials
  • listening to the marble roll around in the bin

If you collect bread bag ties, you'll probably enjoy eating your favorite sandwiches in order to save the bread closures. This will engage both the sense of smell and the sense of taste!


Marble rolling through bread ties in the sensory bin


Related: Marble run with an inclined plane


How STEAM is used in this activity:

Science = friction as it applies to the movement of the marble

Engineering = setting up the experiment

Art - colors of materials

Math = quantity of material in the sensory bin





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