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DIY vegetable garden sensory box with FREE PRINTABLES - a great way to get kids playing and learning about planting.

DIY Veggie Garden Sensory Box

If you’ve been here since the beginning, then you’ll remember the “diggers and dumpers” sensory box I made for C as a Christmas present.  It was a big hit and C still enjoys it but I’ve been feeling like it’s time to change it up.  So a few weeks ago I exchanged the pinto beans for black beans (to imitate soil) and put together this vegetable garden sensory box.


Vegetable garden sensory box with FREE PRINTABLES - a great way to teach kids about gardening.


I found a lot of my supplies at Target. (The gloves, trowel, and watering can were in the dollar section.  The yellow tub was $6.99 and the planting boxes were something like $1 – $3 for a dozen.)  I also used the seed packet printable included in this month’s Action Pack online magazine – remember I hinted about it here?  And, of course, I had to throw in a free printable to make those cute little veggie markers.  Click through for that as well as the step-by-step on how I made the veggies themselves.

First up are the veggie markers.  Just print this free template onto some card stock and cut out the squares.  Then indulge in a few popsicles with the kids and save the sticks.  Cut them in half and attach your veggie markers with a glue stick.



Making the veggie tops is a little more involved but it’s a great craft project for the kids.  Start with an empty egg carton.



Cut the section that held the eggs into rows.

Then paint each row orange, red, and purple (for carrots, radishes, and eggplant – of course).

When you’re done, they’ll look something like this.


Next cut out each individual egg holder.  Then use something sharp (a meat thermometer was my weapon of choice) to punch a hole through the top and thread in some green pipe cleaners.

Trim and bend the pipe cleaners on the inside of the veggie tops.



The final step is to place them inside the pots with some “soil”.  This box has been a great tool for imaginary play.  C loves to fill the pots with the trowel, pour in some seeds, water, label, make the veggie tops appear, and repeat (and repeat and repeat).  Hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

7ae991fa-7585-11e0-bd96-000bcdcb5194 May 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Love this but I am having trouble downloading the printable template of the vegetables. It is reading “page error” Would appreciate any help!!


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com May 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Hi there,

I’m not sure what the trouble is (it works fine for me for some reason) but I reset the link. Please let me know if it’s still not working for you!



beautifulaura May 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

This is too cute! I’m writing this idea down for when Aura is a little older :)


miamihoney May 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Great idea, I can’t wait to do make one for my little man!


Jenny May 4, 2011 at 1:58 am

This is great! I just picked up a sand/water table (for free!) at a garage sale, and I’m planning to fill it with beans. Do the beans do OK outside? Do they attract bugs, or start sprouting after a while? I guess they would have to be wet to sprout… :) Fun stuff!


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com May 4, 2011 at 2:38 am

Jenny – I’m not sure how beans do outside because we actually use this as an indoor toy. I know it sounds scary but kids really do learn to keep the beans in the box :). I bet it would be great fun indoors or out!


Connie Z. May 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

What age do you recommend this for?


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com May 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Hi Connie,

You know your child best so I would just say whenever you think they’re past the “I wanna put everything in my mouth stage”.

My son got his first sensory box right after he turned 2. He’s played with it every day since and does great with it.

I also saw large scale sensory boxes in just about every preschool I toured last February so these are great for that age group too!


Elle Belles Bows May 5, 2011 at 5:49 am

Fantastic!! Thanks for sharing!



Emily@the-polka-dot-umbrella May 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

I love this! My daughter is getting a bit bored of her plain old sensory box PLUS we just planted our real garden yesterday, so this will be a great way to keep playing.


Melissa May 8, 2011 at 2:55 am

Hello ! I am your newest follower love your blog!! Hope you will stop by mine!



Francine May 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I love this idea! I was going to ask about the age thing as well, since I really want to start making sensory boxes for my 2 year old. While he is past the eat everything stage, he is definitely still in the dump things out stage which makes me hesitate! Any suggestions on how to deal with this, or should I just wait a bit longer?


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com May 9, 2011 at 5:27 am

Hi Francine,

You could try starting out with less beans in a larger container – I’ve even heard of people sitting their kids and the bean box inside of a kiddie pool. Of course, you would need a lot of space for that.

I’d recommend just starting with a towel under the bean box. The biggest thing is just to make sure you make your kiddo pick up the beans whenever he spills. After a while he’ll get the idea and keep it in the box. If not, I’d just pack it away for a bit and then try again.

Hope that helps!


Francine May 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Thanks Steph! I will give it a go soon :)


Meagan May 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thanks so much for this great idea! Our rice box was getting a little old, and since the Easter bunny conveniently delivered gardening tools (gloves, small rake, spade, magnifying glass, buckets) this was the perfect way to use them indoors while it is still to wet out to do any real gardening!


Katy June 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

This is such a cute idea! I keep wanting to make sensory boxes for my 3 year old, but I am so paranoid that my 13 month old is going to get into them, that I haven’t made any yet. But this one is just SO adorable!!


Anonymous August 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

This is really fantastic idea !!! Thanks so much for sharing !!! Love it :)


Marnie March 21, 2012 at 1:59 am

Lovely sensory tub!


jess January 12, 2015 at 5:12 pm

this is awesome! i work at a daycare center and all the children love digging up dirt and playing in it! im totally going to make this when i go back into work


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