Fall (or autumn, depending on your location) is a season that really inspires the senses.
From the wafting scent of spiced apple cider to the crackle and crunch of the changing leaves to the cozy softness of your favorite scarf. Every sense comes alive in the fall!
So, this season is the perfect inspiration for a fun sensory bin. Sensory bins are exciting toys for toddlers and young kids, encouraging them to use their fingers and hands to discover different sensory experiences.
There are so many things you can do with a sensory bin! Create sensory play to match the season with our two autumn sensory bins.
Building A Fall Sensory Bin
The first step when choosing your sensory bin is picking a container. A good container has high enough sides to keep everything in, without being so high they prevent play.
Next, you need your filler. Fillers are textures you just can’t wait to get your hands in! Dried pasta, salt, sand, and rice are all fun ideas, but for these fall bins, we’ve used oatmeal and popcorn kernels.
Now it’s time to build your bin! You want to add items for kids to interact with, encouraging them to use their hands and explore their senses.
Choosing a theme is an excellent way to build a bin — that’s why we love fall! It’s an expansive theme that offers so many hands-on ideas.
Autumn/Fall Sensory Bin One: Changing Season Bin
Our first fall sensory bin is inspired by the incredible changes that happen in the natural world at this time of year.
- Popcorn kernels are a perfect base for your fall sensory bin. You can try dying the seeds in multiple colors, so kids can sort through the kernels and put them in order. They’re also fun to get your hands stuck in. Try talking about how these seeds turn into popcorn when they heat! You can throw in a few popped kernels as well.
- Dry pasta is another good base material. Use a mixture of shapes to create new textures. It’s easy to dye pasta to add new colors (or you can buy pre-dyed pasta).
With your base sorted, you can start adding to your sensory bin. Here’s some inspiration:
- Crunchy leaves. Try picking some leaves from your garden! They’re great to crunch between the hands. If you don’t want to use real leaves, use soft silk leaves. The sensory experience is different, but just as engaging.
- Pinecones. Look for different sizes of pine cones to provide a variable sensory experience. Painted pine cones can add pops of color to your sensory bin.
- Mini pumpkins. Fake or real pumpkins have a super smooth feel that’s great for little fingers.
- Hazelnuts and acorns. Nuts are great to scoop and hold. If you have acorns, you can talk about how they grow into oak trees!
- Reindeer moss. Springy and bouncy, kids will love squishing reindeer moss between their fingers.
This bin can keep changing and expanding as the season progresses. As you explore the natural world, find new items to add to your sensory bin.
Autumn/Fall Sensory Bin Two: Cozy Indoors Bin
Our second sensory bin is inspired by cozy days indoors. During fall there are probably going to be rainy days when you want to stay snuggled inside!
- Oatmeal is a lovely base for your cozy sensory bin. Oatmeal can be dyed with food coloring, or you can keep it plain. Oatmeal is so fun to scoop up and let drop through your fingers! Use dried oatmeal if you want a reusable base. But cooked (and cooled) oatmeal also works! It’s just a lot messier.
Now your bin has a base, let’s start adding some fun:
- Plastic mugs. Fall is the time to tuck up indoors with a nice hot drink. Adding plastic mugs and cups to your sensory bin (see also: Sensory Bin 101)not only builds the theme but can help little hands engage. Use the plastic mugs to scoop up the oatmeal!
- Pom poms. A variety of different colored pom poms are a delightful addition to a cozy sensory bin. Try sorting the pom poms into color groups or counting them out.
- Silk leaves. You can find silk leaves for sale at craft stores and they’re lovely to get your hands on. Hold the leaves and blow on them to see them rippling. If you can find leaves in different colors, talk about how they change with the seasons.
- Popped popcorn. We used popcorn kernels as the base for our first sensory bin, but we’re using popped popcorn here! It’s fun to hold and you can crunch it up!
- Cinnamon sticks. This helps engage a new sense — scent. The bark of the cinnamon stick also feels good in the hands.
- Scarves and gloves. Your kids will want to get these lovely soft materials all over their skin!
Keep an eye out around the home for fall-inspired additions to your sensory box. This sensory box is all about that cozy and soft feeling we look for when the weather is turning cold. Recreate that feeling with gentle materials and lovely smells.
Fall is an inspiring season for a sensory bin! Look for inspiration in the changing leaves, the autumn harvest, and cozy evenings indoors.
We hope you like our ideas for two autumn sensory bins! There’s plenty of flexibility to experiment and build a sensory bin that your kids will love to get their hands on! What do you like to put in your sensory bins?
Frequently Asked Questions
Autumn sensory bins use items that engage the senses and are inspired by the changing seasons. We like silk leaves, real leaves, pinecones, popcorn, acorns, pom poms, pumpkins, and more!
Kids can start properly engaging with sensory bins from around 2 years old, but you can introduce simple sensory bins from an even younger age.
At about 2, kids are ready to engage more with their senses and build their motor functions. If you want to use a sensory bin from a younger age, keep the items big and easy to grasp.
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