Pirate Messy Play Sensory Bins

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Add this pirate messy play to your next pirate theme. Of course, you can try these messy play ideas any time of year, too! These messy sensory play ideas will get keep your little pirates engaged as they play, explore, and make up stories with their peers.

In addition to being just plain fun, these sensory bins let the children practice a wide variety of early learning skills. Not too shabby for two simple pirate messy play bins!

Best of all, it’s easy to set up the “walk the plank” sensory bin and sandy treasure messy bin. You can make tweaks to both of the ideas based on the kids’ interests and your own preferences.

Collage of pirate sensory activities with text that reads pirate messy play.

We’ve enjoyed using these messy pirate activities for quite a few years now, both at school and at home. In fact, our first go-round was at a pirate-themed summer camp.

Needless to say, they were a huge hit! The kids played and explored in so many different ways!

Pirate Messy Play

Below, I’ll share two pirate sensory play ideas. That way, you can pick the one you’d prefer to use with your students. Or you can do what we did and just set them both up at the same time!

Both bins have a lot of similarities. And the biggest different is that one is dry, while the other has wet ingredients.

Pirate Sensory Play Materials

I had almost all of the supplies we used for these pirate messy play bins on-hand to begin with.

If you don’t, that’s okay! You can take a peek at what we did. Then check what you have in your teacher supply closet. Add to what you already have if you want to. Otherwise, you can make some adjustments to the materials.

Either way, I’m sure your students will enjoy themselves.

Here’s what we used:

Keep in mind you can choose to make just one of the pirate sensory bins. The simplest one is our “walk the plank” bin, and you can read more about it below.

Again, you don’t have to do things exactly the same way we did! You might even consider inviting your students to help assemble the messy play pirate fun.

Pirate Messy Play Directions

Let’s start with the “walk the plank” sensory play! I think this one is my favorite. Probably because it elicited so many giggles as the kids played.

Here’s what to do:

  • Place the water beads in a plastic bin of water. Let them sit and expand.
  • Once the water beads are about marble-sized, add some shark toys to the “ocean.”
  • Place a long wooden block across the top of the bin. This is the “plank.”
  • Set some pirate toys nearby.
  • Let the kids play!

If your students make up the same kind of stories that mine did, you’re in for a treat!

Preschoolers playing with

Next up, let’s talk about the sandy pirate messy play. Or, as the kids called it, “hunting for pirate treasure.” Here’s what to do:

  • Add sand to a plastic container or sensory bin.
  • Place pirate toys around the bin.
  • Add some blue glass gems for “water.”
  • Finally, add some pirate treasure in the form of gems and plastic gold coins.
  • Let the children play!

You can add some shovels or other sensory tools to either of the pirate messy play bins. My students liked using shovels for finding pirate treasure, but they preferred to use their hands in the “walk the plank” bin. It just depends on what works for you and your students!

Close up of sandy sensory bin with pirate toys, gold coins, and glass gems

Which of these pirate messy play ideas would your kids enjoy the most?

More Pirate Activities

We’re big fans of pirates over here! So if you’re looking for a few more pirate activities, I’ve got you covered:

I think those are perfect as additions to all of the pirate messy play fun!

Blue sensory table with sand, glass gems, plastic gold coins, and shovels

Now that you’re armed with all kinds of pirate-y ideas, it’s time to go and set up your own messy sensory play.

Be sure to save this post for future reference. If you have a Pirate Theme Pinterest board, that might be a good place to save it.

Preschool Pirate Lesson Plans

Let Preschool Teacher 101 make your teaching life easier with fully-developed, done-for-you preschool resources. That way you spend more time teaching and living your life, and less time planning!

Our pirate lesson plans come with weekly plans, detailed daily lesson plans, book suggestions, whole group activities, small group lessons, center ideas, and related printables. Click on the image below to get your own:

pirate lesson plans cover
Pirate Lesson Plans

And be sure to join The Pack from Preschool Teacher 101’s waiting list so you’re the first to know when our membership opens up next.

You can also find us on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Walk the plank sensory bin and sandy sensory bin with text that reads messy pirate sensory play

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