Updated June 6, 2021
Today I’m sharing 20 fall sensory bins for toddlers and preschoolers. Making sensory bins is a frugal and easy way to educate and entertain your toddler.
We are winding down our summer and turning our thoughts towards cooler weather and back-to-school time. That means Fall sensory bins!
What is sensory play?
It has long been known that sensory play promotes early childhood development.
Sensory play helps a child learn and then integrate the five senses: smell, touch, sight, hearing, and taste.
This encourages exploration and promotes creativity.
Research has demonstrated that sensory play promotes self-learning and impacts a child’s behavior and personality.
The habits and behaviors of our children begin to evolve the day they are born and the learning process never ends.
Why offer sensory play opportunities?
Sensory play introduces the child to the basics of the scientific method.
Sensory play helps with the development of both fine and gross motor skills, language development, and problem-solving skills.
Sensory activities for young children encourage free and open-ended play.
Open-ended play is play with no set outcome, no expectations, no prodding or feeding of ideas.
Your child is free to explore, create and imagine whatever he/she wants. They learn to trust themselves, their internal motivations, and learn to self-validate their own experiences.
In my experience as both a parent and former early childhood educator, you can’t fail with providing lots of opportunities for sensory play.
It doesn’t have to be expensive or even time-consuming.
My mom motto is “It needs to be simple or it’s not happening”
Sensory Bin Fillers:
You can buy tons of fillers for your sensory bins. Many of the ones below you can easily make at home.
Most of the toys you’ll see included as “ideas” are just simple dollar-store toys or toys we had kicking around the house.
None of the ones I made below took more than 15 minutes in total to make.
I sped up the drying time for the colored pasta and rice by putting them in the oven on Bake at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. Let them cool down and you are good to go.
They did not bleed any color once they were dry.
Be creative with your ideas! Give your child the opportunity to engage the senses in a fun and educational way.
The possibilities and combinations for sensory play and sensory bins are endless.
Fall Sensory Bin Filler Ideas (recipes for many of these are below):
- Colored rice
- Colored Sand
- Sticky sand
- Colored beans
- Colored oats
- Colored pasta
- Aquarium rocks
- Shredded paper
- Wood shavings
- Colored pasta
- Pumpkins and gourds
- Colored salt
20 Fall Sensory Bins For Toddlers:
Wood Shavings and Fall Leaves:
The shavings I used for this one are aspen wood shavings. You can find them at any pet supply.
I think they make a nice filler for fall sensory bins.
The leaves are felt and came from Hobby Lobby, but the Dollar Store has lots of fall leaves and fall fillers.
You could use the shredded paper animal bedding that they sell for hamsters and rabbits too.
It comes in a variety of colors and is economical.
Colored brown rice with pine cones and green apples sensory bin:
Simple to make Fall/Back to School sensory bin.
The colored rice recipe is super easy to make. I use 4 cups of rice, 1-2 Tablespoons of vinegar, and gel food coloring.
I added small pine cones, green apples, and cottonseed to the bin.
Not pictured are the little forest animals I added when they played with these bins.
I picked up the apples, pinecones, and cottonseed at Michael’s.
When you are done with the bin, the pine cones and cottonseed can be used for open-ended process art projects as well!
Brown colored rice and leaves sensory bin:
Using the same brown rice as above, I made a simple fall leaves sensory bin. The leaves came from Hobby Lobby.
You can add acorns and pinecones too.
You could make a simple matching game with the leaves.
You could write numbers or letters on the back for your toddler to match.
Shredded Paper with Leaves:
Shredded paper with leaves and popsicle sticks. I got the shredded paper at the Dollar Store.
You can find it in the party-goods section.
They have a variety of colors.
Red Colored Rice with Fall Leaves:
Red-colored rice with leaves and sticks. Great Fall and back to school sensory bin.
You choose the other add-ins.
I have used apples, woodland animals, and just cups for pouring/measuring.
Green and Orange Colored Pasta for Harvest Pumpkin Patch sensory bin:
Green and orange-colored pasta make this a great fall sensory bin.
I turned it into a harvest/farm sensory bin.
Colored pasta is simple to make. You can find the recipe here: 9 Easy Sensory Bins For Toddlers
Wood Shavings, Leaves, and Bugs sensory bin:
Aspen wood shavings with leaves and bugs make this a great fall sensory bin.
Black Colored Rice with Orange Pasta Halloween Sensory Bin:
Halloween sensory bin made with black-colored rice, orange-colored pasta, and orange craft sticks.
You could add all kinds of cool Halloween items like spiders and bats.
Colored Brown Rice with Snakes and Trucks Sensory Bin:
Colored brown rice and snakes sensory bin.
A boy’s favorite in our house! The snakes and trucks are from the Dollar Store.
Hours and hours of open-ended play for under $3. You really can’t beat that.
Wood Shavings and Horses Sensory Bin:
Aspen wood shavings make up the base of this sensory bin.
I added plastic horses from the Dollar Store.
This cute Fall sensory bin with our Horse Playdough Invitation To Play which is another great sensory activity for toddlers and preschoolers.
I included a picture below so you can see how they flowed together.
Playdough Horses Invitation To Play
Photos: Maternity Comfort Solutions
Wood Shavings and Fall Leaves:
Aspen wood shavings and Fall leaves make the base of this Fall sensory bin for toddlers.
Ideas for add-ins are bugs, snakes, and acorns.
Also, you could add woodland animals and that would align well with a theme on how animals prepare for winter.
Black Colored Rice and Bugs Sensory Bin:
Black-colored rice sensory bin with bugs and snakes.
Cute Halloween sensory bin idea. Snakes and bugs from the Dollar Store.
Blue Colored Sand River Animals Sensory Bin:
I love using colored sand. This is so easy to make.
You can find the recipe here: Homemade Colored Sand – Growing a Jeweled Rose
This is a river animal sensory bin with blue-colored sand. The river animals are from Michael’s.
Tips for making sensory play more enjoyable for your toddler:
- Play music
- Encourage movement
- Discuss the sensory activity with them, let them describe what they feel, see, and hear.
- Allow them plenty of time
- If the weather allows, go outside with the sensory bin.
- Laugh, sing, and smile.
- Take nature walks and collect items like leaves, feathers, flowers, and rocks to use in more sensory play.
Colored Black and Orange Rice Sensory Bin:
Black and orange-colored rice for Halloween sensory play.
Colored rice is one of our favorite sensory bin fillers.
It is simple and cost-effective to make.
Brown Colored Rice Thanksgiving Sensory Bin:
A cute idea for a Thanksgiving sensory bin. I
used brown colored rice for the base.
The Pilgrims and leaves came from Hobby Lobby.
You could easily turn this into a matching game or sorting activity.
Orange Colored Rice with Pinecones and Apples Sensory Bin:
Orange-colored rice with pinecones and apples.
Makes a cute back-to-school sensory bin or could be used with a trip to an apple orchard or when the leaves start to change color.
Blue Colored Rice with River Animals Sensory Bin:
River animal sensory bin using blue-colored rice.
The river animals are from Michael’s and the stones are from the Dollar store.
Brown Colored Rice with Pinecones, Cottonseed, and Feathers Sensory Bin:
Brown-colored rice, pinecones, cottonseed, and feathers make a great fall sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers.
Colored Rice Recipe:
- 4 Cups rice
- 1-2 Tablespoons vinegar
- Gel food coloring
Mix together in a Ziploc bag until the desired color.
Other Articles you might like:
- 9 Easy Sensory Bins For Toddlers
- 7 Ocean Sensory Bins for Toddlers
- 10 Classic Toddler Toys Your Child Will Love
- Summer Bug Sensory Bin Ideas For Toddlers