Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Toddler Tuesday: Autumn Sensory Bin

For the last several weeks, my 1½-2 year old students have enjoyed playing in our autumn sensory bin! This was super easy and cheap to throw together, and the children had so much fun – not to mention sneaking in some learning!


  • packages of fake autumn leaves (I think about 7 packs of 50?) from Dollar Tree
  • plastic leaf-shaped dishes from Dollar Tree
  • assorted Styrofoam and plastic pumpkins and gourds from Dollar Tree (or real mini pumpkins & gourds!)
  • large acorn bells from Michaels
  • tongs and scoopers from Dollar Tree


  • running our hands through the leaves
  • shaking and listening to acorn bells
  • filling and dumping objects in and out of bowls and scoops
  • transferring objects from bin to bowl (and vice versa) using tongs, scoops, and/or fingers
  • wearing bowls on heads as hats
  • sorting leaves by color (for older kids)
  • practicing making our leaves “fall”


  • texture awareness
  • visual discrimination
  • auditory responsiveness (to bells)
  • one to one correspondence
  • color recognition
  • fine motor skills – grasping small objects, using tongs, etc.
  • filling, dumping, and transferring
  • seasonal knowledge (“Leaves fall down”)


If you don’t have a fancy sensory table (I converted our big standing sandbox into one), just get one of those long clear plastic under-the-bed storage bins for $20 and set it on the floor. I did this last year before the big sandbox came along, and the kids loved it!

Those cheap fake autumn leaves are awesome. I think they were made of some sort of thin cloth, so they folded/crumpled up nicely, but retained their original shape when released. (Great fine motor skills!) I think some students even tried to fit the leaves inside some of the bells!

Sensory bins are so fun for toddlers. Yes, they can be messy, but our children were quite cooperative at keeping things in the bin and cleaning up if they accidentally spilled. (Also, we watched for boredom cues and closed up before they started throwing things across the room.) They learn so much through the simplest of activities – start one today!

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