Fall is a wonderful time to create lasting memories with your families, and what better way than through exciting fall-themed sensory bins?
Sensory bins are a great way for toddlers and preschoolers to explore colors, textures, sounds, and smells through open-ended play. While high quality, expensive sensory bins are readily available, all you really need is a large plastic tub and some simple materials to create your own unique sensory bins for your little ones. Sensory bins are usually not recommended for infants, as many materials can pose a choking hazard, but toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy supervised play with sensory bins.
Here are some of our favorite ideas for fall sensory bins!
For this sensory bin, you’ll need water, acrylic leaves (available at most craft stores), some kitchen utensils, and watercolors (or food coloring). Fill a plastic tub with water, and use food coloring or watercolor paints to dye the water orange or yellow. Add the leaves, and let your little one practice scooping, capturing, measuring, and pouring the water and leaves!
Gather some pom poms in fall hues like brown, green, yellow, orange, and red, and fill a plastic tub. Find some small plastic containers or boxes and some plastic tongs, and let your child practice scooping the pom poms and placing them into the different containers. Help your child sort the pom poms by color or size. You can also add in any other soft materials to this sensory bin as well - felt leaves or pieces of yarn could work well too!
All you need for this sensory bin is dried corn and a little imagination! Fill a tub with dried corn, and add whatever toys or gadgets you want! You can use kitchen utensils such as measuring cups, spoons, and bowls, or you can do a theme such as trains, trucks, animals, or action figures. The dried corn has a wonderful sound and texture and makes it ultra-fun for little ones to play with!
“Cloud dough” is soft and fluffy, and great for sensory play! You can make your own cloud dough by mixing 6 cups of flour, 1 cup of oil, ⅓ cup of canned pumpkin, and any spices for scent and color. For best results, use your hands to mix the ingredients together. Then, add your cloud dough to your sensory bin, throw in some pumpkin-themed items such as mini pumpkins, small gourds, letter “P” magnets, orange plastic spoons, and whatever else you can come up with!
“Oobleck” is an intriguing mixture of cornstarch and water that mysteriously changes from its solid form to liquid form - and back again! It makes a fun hands-on science experiment for kids, and you can make fall-themed oobleck at home by mixing cornstarch and water in a roughly 2 to 1 ratio. To make this recipe fall-themed, you can substitute applesauce for water! You’ll need 1 cup of applesauce, 2 cups of cornstarch, and any extra spices for color and scent! Start with the cornstarch, and slowly add in the applesauce or water until you get a clumpy, oozing substance! Let your children simply interact with the oobleck in their hands, and watch them light up when the substance suddenly changes from a solid to a liquid and oozes back into the bin!
This sensory bin not only smells amazing, it can be a great way to engage all your child’s senses! For this activity bin, you’ll need some dried oats, small apples (you can use artificial or real apples), small wooden containers, and cinnamon sticks. Help your children scoop and sift the oats, stir the oats with the cinnamon sticks, and practice sorting the apples by size or color.
This sensory bin can be done after a fun outdoor scavenger hunt! Spend some time walking around your neighborhood or visiting a local park, collecting any pinecones you can find (be sure to watch out for sharp pieces!). Bring the pinecones home, and using a muffin tin, help your child place one pinecone in each spot. You can discuss the different colors, textures, and smells of the pinecones as well. When you’re done with this activity, you can also help your child paint the pinecones and sprinkle glitter on top for some cute fall decorations! If you don’t know where to find pinecones near your house, you can also buy decorative pinecones at most craft stores this time of year.
Cornmeal is another great base for a sensory bin, and can be stored in an airtight container to reuse over and over again! Simply pour the cornmeal into your sensory bin or box, and fill the box with traditional fall items such as mini pumpkins, small gourds, pinecones, faux leaves, felt flowers, and more! Your child might enjoy playing a game of “I Spy,” where you hide items in the cornmeal, and she has to dig through the box to locate the item!
Sensory play is so much fun for toddlers and preschoolers - and let’s be honest, for parents too - and is a wonderful way to teach your child to engage all of his senses!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.