As a follow-up to her article last month on Back-to-School Themed Sensory Bins for Toddlers, Kimberley Kirby of @sensoreadplay is back today sharing more fall sensory bin ideas! Kimberley is quite the expert on DIY sensory bins. On her Instagram account @sensoreadplay, she shares new sensory play and reading pairings daily, and she has been sharing some of her favorite DIY sensory table ideas here on Fab Everyday. You also must check out her article on Dollar Store Sensory Bins, which shares how to make 10 sensory bins for only $20 and a trip to Dollar Tree. In today’s article, Kimberley is sharing several fall sensory activities, including Halloween sensory bin ideas, Thanksgiving sensory bin ideas, and other fall-themed sensory bin ideas. These sensory bin toddler activities will keep your kiddos learning and having fun all season long!
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Fall Sensory Bins
By Kimberley Kirby
SAFETY WARNING: Some of these ideas include small items that may be a choking hazard. These should only be used with adult supervision.
With the start of every new season comes excitement about new seasonal sensory bins for toddlers. Fall has me even more excited because not only does it come with fall sensory bin ideas but I also get to come up with Halloween sensory bin ideas and Thanksgiving sensory bin ideas! My creative juices have been flowing and I’ve picked up a number of fall sensory bin items to inspire your DIY sensory table ideas in your home! I’ve also created a number of quick tutorials about making your own colorful, seasonal fillers for your fall themed sensory bins and I can’t wait to share them!
Non-holiday fall-themed sensory bin ideas
Here are some of my favorite (non-holiday) fall themed sensory bins:
- Pumpkins and Apples Fall Sensory Bin: This theme was born following the incorrect delivery of Life cereal with my normal groceries. Who knew Life cereal makes perfect hay bales for fall sensory activities? I paired the hay bales with pumpkin crème candies on one side and then added old-fashioned oats and decorative apples on the other side. Add some cinnamon sticks and this fall themed sensory bin will smell like fall too!
- Pumpkin Soup Fall Sensory Bin for Toddlers: Water play is always a hit in our house, even when we are doing fall sensory activities and the weather is getting cooler. When we do soup themed bins (one of the most consistently loved sensory bin activities for toddlers, no matter what season), I put colored water (I swear by this food coloring!) in one container with bowls and scoops in another. In this case, I added some acrylic pumpkins and acorns from Dollar Tree, but any other little fall sensory bin items would do the trick as well!
- Little Acorn Color Sort Fall Sensory Bin: Pairing books with sensory play with my favorite way to set up DIY sensory bins because it adds an additional layer for learning and making associations. In this case, I dyed with paint some beautiful fall harvest pasta from my new favorite online shop, the Pasta Shoppe. I created this reel on Instagram to show how to dye pasta using acrylic paint. I also purchased some unfinished wooden acorns and bowls and painted them in fall colors to turn this into a color sorting sensory bin activity. Additionally, the adorable Little Acorn book is available here.
- Harvest Corn Fall Sensory Bin: Fall colors are so gorgeous, and the super easy DIY harvest corn I made fits this bin perfectly. I added an adorable little squirrel figurine (Use code SENSOREADPLAY for 15% off your Safari Ltd. Purchase) to collect the acorns from among the fall leaves (both from a décor pack like this). One of my favorite sensory bin items for fall or any other time of year is the Learning Resources All About Me Sorting Houses because they are so versatile. This bin presents so many options for sorting, small world imaginative play, fine motor skills work, and more!
- Pumpkin Patch Fall Sensory Bin: This bin is great as both a fall sensory bin for toddlers and also as a Halloween sensory bin! For this sensory activity, I created a pumpkin patch small world by dyeing green rice and adding some Life cereal for hay bales, a Little People tractor, and a mini crate (from Dollar Tree, but similar to this one). The pumpkins in this small world were petite pumpkin pasta, which I dyed using the method shown in this Instagram reel. My son absolutely loved this small world sensory activity and played with it for multiple days before I cleaned it up!
Halloween sensory bin ideas
In addition to celebrating the new season, fall gives us so many opportunities for dreaming up Halloween sensory bin ideas especially that can be paired with fun Halloween books. So many aspects of Halloween can be made into sensory experiences that are squishy, icky, creepy, spooky, sticky, you name it! Here are some of my favorite sensory ideas for Halloween:
- Bonaparte Falls Apart Halloween Sensory Bin: Okay, first of all the book Bonaparte Falls Apart is absolutely adorable and so very punny. Second of all, skeletons make not only great sensory ideas for Halloween but great anatomy learning opportunities! Here is a reel showing how I made this fun Halloween sensory bin using dyed Halloween shaped pasta, a printed skeleton, adhesive magnets, and a magnetic Flisat insert from Button and Bug (Use code SENSOREAD10 for 10% off your purchase).
- How to Scare a Ghost Halloween Sensory Bin: I had no idea that dyeing cooked spaghetti would be so easy and rewarding until I put together this bin, as shown in this reel. I added some fun Halloween sensory bin items from the Dollar Tree, such as ping-pong ball eyes, plastic rats and bats, a giant spider with web, and skeleton tongs. On the other side, I added little skull and green pumpkin mini baskets for sorting or other play. This play pairs perfectly with the fun book How to Scare a Ghost from the How To series!
- Where Do Diggers Trick-or-Treat? Halloween Sensory Bin: Construction play is a favorite with almost every toddler I know! This new book, Where Do Diggers Trick-or-Treat? (from one of our all-time favorite series, Where Do…), provides the perfect opportunity to pair construction play with your Halloween sensory bin ideas. We love these construction trucks for our construction play, which pair perfectly with these mini wooden blocks, Halloween porcupine balls from Dollar Tree, mini wood slices, and candy corn construction cones!
- Magical Witch Halloween Sensory Bin: This bin was such a big hit that we had to do it two days in a row (the second day with friends and family who loved it as much as we did) and plan to do it again before Halloween! My son and his friends/cousins had so much fun mixing up witch “potions” (baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring – I recommend big containers if you plan to do science experiments in the future!) in mini cauldrons and adding their own special touches like glitter, sequins, pumpkins, feathers, googly eyes, and spiders, before watching the potions erupt before their eyes! The Magical Witch book is perfect for younger toddlers, as it has a little finger puppet that follows you through the story! Check out the reel I made to document this fun potion activity!
Thanksgiving sensory bin ideas
In addition to Halloween, fall also means we get to come up with Thanksgiving sensory bin ideas! Although it may feel like Thanksgiving is still a long way away, it will be here before we know it and I have ideas to help you out with Thanksgiving sensory bins for toddlers! Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Cornucopia Thanksgiving Sensory Bin: Cornucopias are a symbol of plenty and give us the perfect chance to use Thanksgiving sensory bins for teaching our children to be thankful for all that we have. I found this cornucopia in the dollar spot at Target and I’m hoping they bring them back again this year! I added artificial gourds (although you could use real ones too) and fall leaves, as well as harvest corn that I made, harvest corn cobs from the Dollar Tree, and small gardening tools to fit the harvest theme.
- The Thankful Book Thanksgiving Sensory Bin: This bin was one of the first bins I ever documented after making, and it was a fun one. Although it doesn’t fit the same fall color scheme as the other bins in this article, the colors pair perfectly with The Thankful Book which is a great aid in teaching your kids about the Thanksgiving holiday. For this bin, I paired lots of fun scoops, tweezers, and tools, with brightly colored pom poms, beads, and foam shapes. Overall, it was a very inexpensive bin that provided plenty of fun and learning!
I hope you find lots of inspiration in these fall sensory bin ideas! I would love to see what you come up with, so tag me @sensoreadplay on Instagram with your own fall sensory bin ideas! Enjoy!
About the Author
Kimberley Kirby works in the information security industry full time and embraces creative outlets on the side. She owns and operates an Etsy shop, Gray Duck Greetings, when we are not living through a pandemic. Kimberley is ‘Mama’ to a 2-year-old boy who has been home full time since the start of the pandemic and she has therefore become well-versed in crafts and activities to occupy toddlers. At the beginning of 2021, she started the Instagram account @sensoreadplay where she shares new sensory play and reading pairings daily. Kimberley lives outside of Boston, MA with her husband, son, and dog.