Fall Sensory Bin Ideas for All Ages
Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. Anyone else? I love the crisp air, colorful leaves, pumpkins, and of course all the fun fall festivities. Fall is also one of my favorite themes for sensory bins. There are so many amazing fall sensory bin ideas that are perfect for this time of year! If you’re looking for some beautiful autumn setups, that are also fairly easy to prep and safe for all ages, then keep reading for 10 of my favorite fall sensory activities!
Fall Sensory Bin Theme Ideas
There are so many great themes that can be used for a fall sensory bin. Before you prepare your bin, start by choosing a theme. Here are a few ideas:
10 Sensory Bin Ideas for Fall
Simple Fall Sensory Play Ideas
Sensory bins can be made incredibly simple, or incredibly elaborate. Which type you do is really up to you! I like to do a mix of both. Here are a few of my favorite simple fall-themed sensory activities.
1. Dyed Pasta Leaves
Dying pasta is incredibly easy! All you need is some pasta, vinegar, and food coloring. If you’ve never dyed pasta (or rice, chickpeas, corn kernels…this method works on everything), check out this post for a tutorial. I love how pasta shells look like leaves! For this simple bin, I simply dyed pasta shells (both large and small) in fall colors. We got two days of play with this base: the first day, I layered the colors in the bin. Then, when it was all mixed up, I added some dyed leaf-shaped pasta and we made a color sorting activity out of it! Both were fun, and super easy to set up.
P.S. Dyed pasta, rice, chickpeas, corn, etc. last literally forever. This setup will be even easier next year because you won’t have to do that step!
2. Fall Soup
Fall soup is so fun because it takes literally seconds to set up and there are so many variations to this fall sensory play. All you need is water and several different autumn-themed loose parts. Here’s what we used for ours, but you could use literally anything:
- Fall vase filler (glitter styrofoam balls in fall colors – from Dollar Tree)
- Faux leaves
- Tapioca pearls, cooked and dyed in fall colors
The tapioca pearls are a fun touch but absolutely not necessary. They are essentially taste-safe water beads when cooked, and you can dye them fun colors with food coloring. When added to water you can’t see them but you can see the colors, which makes for a fun tie-dye looking “soup!”
You can either add everything in the water ahead of time and have your child(ren) simply stir it and scoop it into bowls, or you can let them pour in each item and mix them, too. I set out everything separately in bowls and let my kids add them in. Depending on the items you mix into the soup, this activity can be completely taste-safe and appropriate for all ages.
3. Frozen Fall Soup
My favorite hack for water play like the Fall Soup is this: freeze it when you’re done! Take the leftover “soup” and pour it into a large dish or smaller ice cube trays/molds and freeze overnight. The next day, pop it out and now you have a whole new fall sensory bin with almost no prep. My kids LOVE playing with ice. I give always give a jar of water and some tools for mixing so they can watch it slowly melt. If you freeze in a larger block, you can give them a little bowl of salt and spoon and a spray bottle or droppers with water and make it a “rescue mission.” The salt and water helps the ice melt faster, and children can do this and try to remove the items frozen inside.
4. Acorn Soup
Like fall soup, acorn soup is a super simple and fun set up. All you need are some acorns and water. This is a great activity if you have oak trees, or live near a park or nature center with them. Start by going on a nature hunt and collecting as many acorns as you can find. This would be a great opportunity to read a book about acorns, like Treemendous: Diary of a Not Yet Mighty Oak, and learn about the life cycle of an oak tree.
After this, consider baking your acorns before playing with them. You do not have to do this step, especially if you aren’t planning to save the acorns, but sometimes little critters can hide inside of them so you may wish to do this. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 175 for 1.5-2 hours, stirring every 15-30 minutes or so to avoid scorching.
Once you’re ready, fill a sensory bin or bowl full of water and dump in the acorns. Add some scoops and bowls to serve up the soup.
5. Mixed Fall Sensory Base
Another simple fall sensory activity is a mixed base sensory bin. This is a great way for kids to experiment with different textures and colors. Simply gather about 5-6 different fall-themed sensory bases and layer them in your bin. I used the following:
- Mixed dyed rice
- “Pumpkin patch” mix (green dyed spiral pasta with acrylic pumpkins)
- Dyed corn kernels
- Dyed leaf-shaped pasta (I grabbed this pasta at Home Goods)
Yes, it will all get mixed up, so if that will bother you, then maybe skip this one. However if you use bases that are different sizes, it’s fairly easy to sort out! I was able to separate out the pasta, pumpkins, and acorns easily. Then I used a colander to separate the rice and corn: the rice was small enough to fit through the holes, but the corn was not. It’s a little trick for separating out rice for bins like this! You can also just leave it as a mixed up base for the future; you certainly don’t have to separate it back out!
Small World Sensory Bin Ideas
Small world bins are great because not only are they sensory play, they are also imaginative play! Children can pretend play with these bins the same way they would with dolls or action figures. These tend to be slightly more elaborate setups, but you can still keep them fairly simple and have great results. Here are a few small world fall sensory bin ideas.
One of my son’s favorite bins we do every year is this fall farm small world. This is a setup that you can easily do more or less with, depending on what you have and how much time you want to spend. The materials I used for this bin are:
- Oats for the base
- Dyed pasta leaves
- Mini hay bales from Dollar Tree
- Wooden barn from Target
- Acrylic pumpkins from Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby
- Green dyed spiral pasta (to make a pumpkin patch)
- Farmer and animals from the Toob Down on the Farm set
If your child is obsessed with animals and farms like mine is, they will love this bin! My son has seriously played with this for hours before. Don’t forget to add a tractor!
7. Pumpkin Patch
One of my personal favorite setups is this pumpkin patch I made last year. I had been dreaming this one up for awhile and was so excited to finally put it together. Here’s what I used:
- Brown dyed rice base
- Green dyed spiral pasta in rows to represent pumpkin vines
- Mini hay bales from Dollar Tree
- Acrylic pumpkins from Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby
- Mini fabric pumpkins from Dollar Tree
- Pumpkin picks from Dollar Tree (I cut the picks down quite a bit – they were long!)
- Pumpkin patch sign from Target
- Mini tractor from our Toob Down on the Farmhttps://amzn.to/3L37nUP set
- My homemade sensory bin insert – made from a Dollar Tree sign, foam board, and paint
Using the pumpkin picks in this bin with the insert was a last minute idea but it was such a hit! The idea is for the child(ren) to “pick” the pumpkins from the patch and “load” them into the truck. This particular bin includes a fine motor/posting aspect due to having to insert the pumpkin picks into the holes above the truck, which is just a bonus. The real win is that it’s so much fun!
I recently created another variation of this using one of the activities from my Fall Preschool Activity Bundle. I used the Pumpkin Patch Shapes activity, and put the shapes in the pumpkin patch for my son to “pick” and place in the correct spot on the pumpkin patch printable.
This printable activity bundle includes 19 more activities that can all be incorporated into sensory play! Check it out by clicking on the link or image above.
8. Hay Ride
This one was a much simpler set up for me, but you can always add more if you want. This is a great bin for any child who is into trucks/trains/tractors – perhaps they are in the rotating schema and interested in how wheels turn. For my setup, I used the following items:
- Mixed dyed rice for the base
- Lots of faux leaves
- Mini fabric pumpkins and pumpkin picks from Dollar Tree
- Mini hay bales from Dollar Tree
- White metal truck from Target
I placed the hay bales and some pumpkins inside the truck to make it a hay ride. Other pumpkins I left outside which my son ended up loading into the truck. You could also add mini people to this bin who can take turns going on the hay ride. I would have done this, but I didn’t have any mini people.
9. Apple Picking
There are so many ways you could do an apple picking sensory bin! You could also incorporate so many different skills. For mine, I used it as a fine motor/posting activity as well as for color sorting. You could easily add in a counting element (how many apples did you pick?) as well. Here are the details for my set up:
- I placed two small bins on one side of our sensory table instead of our large one
- In one small bin I put a red dyed rice base, and a green dyed rice base in the other
- I painted wooden apples from Dollar Tree red and green and put them in the red base
- I painted popsicle sticks red and put the in the green base
- I made a bin insert out of foam board, paint, and applesauce pouch lids that just so happened to be red and green; I also added some slits in the apple tree to slide the popsicle sticks into
My son had fun poking the popsicle sticks through the slots, and placing the wooden apples on the correct color pouch lid on the tree. This was a fairly simple activity but you could do so much with it! If you want, you could even incorporate it into a larger unit study all about apples!
10. Corn Maze
The SIMPLEST set up but such a fun fall sensory bin! For this one, I used:
- Dyed corn kernel base
- Mini corn cobs from Dollar Tree to create a “maze”
- A toy car
That’s it! Create a little maze for your child to navigate the car through. For older children, they can create their own maze! This bin promotes problem solving – even if it’s a simple maze like mine, they are still having to think about how to navigate through it.
Alternatively, you could use a different base and then use the corn kernels to make a more intricate maze, if you want the space to make it a little more difficult.
While these are some of our favorite fall sensory bin ideas for toddlers and preschool-aged children, there are so many more amazing possibilities out there. The most important thing to remember when creating a sensory bin is that your child should enjoy it. If they enjoy it, they will play with it, and sensory play has so many amazing benefits that you want them to play with it! I’ve found that the simplest sensory play is often the most engaging for my kids. So don’t stress yourself out. If you enjoy making the more elaborate bins like I do, then go for it! But it certainly isn’t necessary. Just a fun base, a few loose parts, and some tools for scooping and pouring is really all you need to get started.
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram this fall for more ideas!
What is your favorite fall sensory bin setup? Let me know in the comments!
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