“Wash the Muddy Farm Animals” Sensory Bin

Need an easy activity idea to entertain your toddler or preschooler? This “wash the muddy farm animals” sensory bin is simple, inexpensive and SO fun to play with. Quickly whip up some edible mud and your kids will be playing in under 5 minutes—perfect for busy days where you need time to get things done!

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Do your kids have an activity that they just can’t get enough of?

For us, THIS is that activity. 

We’ve tried many activities over the years, but no matter how many new activities we try, we always seem to circle back to this one—not because I keep suggesting it, but because my children ask for it constantly.

…And of course, it’s so low-prep that I’m happy to oblige!

I hadn’t shared this activity on my site before because to be honest, it’s so simple to set up that it hardly seemed worth it to write an entire article about it.

But after being asked to set it up about a hundred times by my kids, I decided that I was being silly and that it was absolutely worth sharing. That way, your kids can have as much fun with it as ours do!

Our kids love to wash the muddy farm animals over and over again, and because this sensory activity uses edible mud, it’s safe for toddlers and younger kids who like to put things in their mouth.

Who knew such a simple activity could bring such joy to our household?

Related: 13 Low-Prep Activities for Destructive Toddlers

How to Set Up a Farm Animal Washing Station

Required Materials

Here’s what you’ll need to create a muddy farm animal sensory bin at home:

  • Containers or bins
  • Chocolate cake mix (read all the way to the bottom for more options)
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Plastic farm animals
  • Dish soap
  • Toothbrush (this activity is a good way to reuse old toothbrushes that can’t be used to brush teeth anymore)

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Pour Cake Mix into Bin

Start by pouring some chocolate cake mix into a large container or bin.

I’ll share a few alternatives below, but I like to use cake mix because it’s taste-safe, inexpensive and each box contains enough for several rounds of this activity.

2. Add Water

Add a bit of water and mix with a spoon until well combined.

I don’t have any quantities to share because the amount you need will depend on the size of your bin and how much cake mix you used.

But honestly, it’s not an exact science. Just start with a little bit and keep adding water until you’re happy with the texture—you can always add more cake mix if it ends up too runny.

3. Prepare Washing Station

Fill a smaller container with water. Then, grab a second smaller container, add a few drops of dish soap and fill that one with water as well.

Note: I like to have both a rinsing station and a washing station, but if you like, you can skip the rinsing station and use just one container filled with soapy water. You can also fill several containers with soapy water if you’re doing this activity with several kids!

4. Add Farm Animals

Add some plastic farm animals and move them around a bit to cover them with “mud”.

Then, give your child the bin and let them wash the animals using a toothbrush and soapy water!

Depending on how long your child plays with this activity and how filthy the farm animals get, you may have to replace the soapy water a couple times as they play. Our kids always spend quite a while playing with this because it’s one of their all-time favourite activities.

I just love how easy this sensory bin is to set up! Our kids ask for it frequently and I’m always happy to set it up for them because it literally takes under 2 minutes to prepare. This activity is a go-to on days where I’m really busy!

And in case you were wondering, yes, it can get a little messy—but it’s worth it to me given how much fun they have with it. To limit the mess, try taking it outdoors (weather permitting) or have your kids wear art smocks to prevent the chocolate from staining their clothes.

What to Use Instead of Cake Mix

As mentioned above, I like to use cake mix for this because it’s taste-safe and I find that it’s the most cost-effective option. I always pick up a few whenever I go to the dollar store, and each box contains enough cake mix for about 3 of these sensory bins.

That being said, there are a few other options you can try if you’d rather not use cake mix or don’t have any on hand.

The first is chocolate pudding (in either ready-to-eat or powdered form). If you use powdered pudding mix, this alternative works in the same way as cake mix—simply add water until you’re satisfied with the texture.

I don’t use pudding because there’s less in each box, so I find it less cost-effective. But if pudding is what you have at home, it would make a great alternative!

The second alternative you can try is oobleck—simply use brown food colouring to give it the colour of mud. Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that behaves like a liquid in its resting state, but like a solid when pressure is applied to it. It’s so fun watching toys sink into it! (You can find out more about how to make oobleck in this article.)

The third alternative you can try is to mix a bit of cocoa powder into some regular all-purpose flour and add some water. If you’re not happy with the colour, simply adjust the quantity of cocoa powder accordingly.

Flour and cocoa powder make a good alternative because while they’re taste-safe like the rest of these options, they don’t taste very good. This means that while your children won’t be harmed if they taste them, they also won’t actively want to eat the contents of the sensory bin!

How to Prevent Toys from Developing Mould

If you’re using toys that have holes at the bottom, it’s possible that cake mix and filthy water may get into those holes and cause mould to develop inside over time.

To prevent this, simply use a hot glue gun to plug up the holes. This will prevent water from getting inside, which will prevent mould from forming. You can also do this with bath toys to ensure they last a long time and don’t need to be thrown out due to water infiltration!

Related Sensory Bins Ideas for Toddlers

Looking for more fun sensory activities to try with your toddler? Check out these articles:

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The Craft-at-Home Family