Let’s bring back the sensory bin! Fall is a great time to enjoy open-ended exploration, and this fall we’re going with things that get kids excited. Whether you’re planning a sensory bin or a fall sensory table for your preschoolers, this one features all the beautiful fall colors and little trinkets that are iconic of the season.
If you’re looking for more amazing autumn activities for kids, don’t miss our compilation of the best fall activities for preschoolers!
Beautiful Fall Colors Sensory Table Idea
A fall preschool theme just isn’t complete with a sensory bin or two, right?
The fall season is full of sensory experiences, so why not try to capture some of that sensory fun in a fall sensory table?
We’ll start by using some freshly dyed rice and some common materials found at the dollar store or craft store. Everything in this bin was something I already had on hand from my years of teaching preschool. It’s all a matter of how you arrange the materials to make an inviting sensory bin.
Since this bin is made with rice, it is taste-safe and could be a sensory bin for toddlers, too! Just make sure to keep an eye on them, as we know how much young children love to put things in their mouths.
FAQ About Creating Sensory Activities for Preschoolers
Here are some commonly asked questions about how to best create quality sensory experiences for our preschoolers.
Sensory play is a type of play that activates and stimulates a child’s senses. Often, sensory play focuses on stimulating touch, sight, and hearing, as those senses are most accessible.
Sensory activities for preschoolers might include playing with sensory bins and sensory tables, playdough activities, calm down bottles, playing in the sandbox, swinging on a swing, or even walking on a balance beam.
Teaching preschoolers and toddlers how to use a sensory bin is like teaching them anything else. You lay out the ground rules, set boundaries and watch them experiment until one day you realize they aren’t sweeping pounds of rice off the floor anymore!
Here are some tips for introducing your child to sensory activities.
~ Start simple. Just offer a few materials and only in small amounts at first.
~ Establish firm boundaries when doing sensory play. No eating. No dumping. No throwing. If your preschooler does not follow these rules, remove the sensory items and try again later.
~ Accept that messes will happen, even with firm boundaries. Teach your preschooler how to help clean up.
~ Offer a large area for sensory play. For example, we put a little rice in a large bin and then pull the bin into the center of the room. This allows my preschoolers room to maneuver around the bin, and it actually helps keep the mess contained.
Here are some super easy sensory play activities for preschoolers and toddlers.
~ any sensory table or bin, including water tables
~ ooblec (cornstarch and water)
~ cloud dough
~ water bin activities
~ ice cubes
~ baking soda and vinegar activities
~ writing in shaving cream
~ drawing on horizontal surfaces
Try This Fall Themed Sensory Bin
Fall is a fantastic time of year to check out a whole new palette of colors. We have deep red, orange, purple, and yellow hues every where you look. This colorful fall sensory bin captures the beauty of fall with hands-on, sensory based learning!
- rice of varying fall colors
- small containers
That’s really all you need for any sensory bin, but here is a list of items that make this fall themed. You don’t need all these items, but I included links for your convenience.
- felt fall leaves
- mini pinecones
- acrylic acorns
- apple mini erasers
- acrylic pumpkins
- acrylic leaves
- liquid watercolor (for dying the rice)
How to Set Up This Colorful Sensory Bin
I wanted this sensory bin to feel very fall-like, so I chose five liquid watercolor colors for dying my rice. These colors couldn’t have turned out more reminiscent of autumn!
Start by putting two cups of rice in a zip top baggie, then repeat for each color you’re going to make. I used brown rice because that’s all I had on hand, and I’m glad I did because it muted the colors, making them look even more fall-like.
Squeeze a little watercolor into each bag, seal up, and give it a good shake. Some people use a squirt of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to “set” the watercolor, but I skipped this step and we didn’t have any negative repercussions.
Once the rice inside the baggie is saturated, lay it out on a baking sheet and let the rice dry completely overnight. Or you can speed up the process by putting it in the oven on the lowest setting for 2.5 hours. Then carefully transfer the rice to the sensory bin, making clear and distinct lines of color in the bin.
Then, fill in the rest of the sensory bin with fall themed materials of your choosing. Now, invite your preschooler to join you in this fall sensory table activity.
The Best Scoops for Sensory Bins
Having the right scooping and pouring utensils can make or break a sensory experience. Here are our favorites.
Time to Play in This Color Fall Sensory Table
My preschooler jumped right into this sensory bin, but I was surprised he didn’t first mix up the colored rice. Usually, that’s what preschoolers do first.
But not this time. My son immediately grabbed the wooden coffee scoop and grabbed some acrylic pumpkins with this other hand to fill it up. He did this a number of times before moving on to more scooping and pouring.
It had been a while since we had put together a sensory bin, and this one quickly became a favorite sensory table idea. My son loved scooping and pouring the rice, and I loved how he was playing because he was practicing life skills in an engaging and hands-on way. It’s amazing how the simplest things can be some of the best learning activities!
This sensory bin really hits on the sense of touch and hearing, too. It didn’t take long for my son to discover the differences in how the rice sounded as he scooped and pouring it onto the plastic jar versus dropping the apple erasers or acrylic table scatter into the jar.
He spent a lot of time just scooping and spooning the rice into the jar. One jar he sealed up with the lid and shook, creating his own sensory bottle. It sounded just like musical eggs or maracas.
He tried all the different scoops and spoons in the sensory bin. I always offer more than one kind because using a scoop or a spoon require different muscle movements, and different sizes make a difference, too. And I always like to add some sort of small container (in this case, a few plastic jars) so preschoolers have a vessel to scoop, pour, and drop contents into. This is fantastic for hand-eye coordination!
My son scooped and spooned the rice into the jar until it was nearly full, and then he used a spoon to stir it. “Like I stir my oatmeal!” he said.
Once the jar was full of rice, and after he’d given it a good stir, my son added the feathers to “make a bouquet of flowers” for me. (Which then inspired a whole other fall sensory bin!) He was so sweet!
Sometimes when I create a sensory bin, I don’t have exact ideas on how the items will be used. I love watching the creativity of preschoolers when they are offered open-ended play like this. It’s loads of fun and learning, too!
Looking for More Great Sensory Ideas for Preschoolers?
Fall Picture Books
Mix up your circle time book routine by adding seasonal books! These fall and autumn selections are beloved read-aloud books that are perfect for preschool.
- rice of varying fall colors
- fall items (acrylics, felt leaves, mini erasers, etc.)
- liquid watercolors
- zip top baggies
- small containers
- large tub or sensory table
- Use liquid watercolors and zip top baggies to dye the rice.
- Once the rice is dry, transfer it to the sensory bin, making clear and distinct lines of color in the bin.
- Fill in the rest of the sensory bin with fall themed materials of your choosing.
- Invite your preschooler to join you!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.