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Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

Get into the Thanksgiving and fall spirit with this sensory bin! Full of bright, fall colors and plenty of room to add your own creativity, this sensory bin is a great activity to keep little ones busy for a while. Add different textures, smells and colors to engage the senses of young children and allow them to explore all of their senses!

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Create a vibrate and engaging Thanksgiving themes sensory bin!

Late fall around Thanksgiving is a great time to explore the outdoors. Children will love the idea of looking for fall colors of yellow, orange and red on a walk and giving children the autonomy to add whatever they want to their sensory bin will give them even more autonomy. Each sensory bin is different depending on the neighborhood and environment you live in. Someone who lives in a populated city may have a sensory bin full of twigs, rocks, and some leaves from trees in the urban area while someone who lives in a remote location may have a plethora of plants, leaves, and perhaps a few sneaky insects in their sensory bin. Take a walk in a different area to see how the neighborhoods affect the makeup of your sensory bins!

👃Nose Knows: Your nose is lined with microscopic hair-like structures, called cilia.  

Safe Hands: This activity can be done in individual sensory bins for young toddlers who may still be exploring how to share with their friends. 

😛 Provide Tasting Experiences: Children may be tempted to taste what’s inside the sensory bin. Provide concrete tasting experiences for them to do so with safe foods. Modeling and explaining that the sensory bin is for all senses except taste, allows children to understand that tasting happens at mealtimes and during tasting activities.


For this activity you will need:

Large bin to hold everything

Scoops, funnels, shovels, cups etc

Medium like oats, rice, cornmeal, water beads etc.

Magnifying glass

Thanksgiving-inspired items such as pine cones, pumpkins, corn kernels, leaves, cranberries, etc.

Learning Outcomes






Using all senses in the exploration of properties and functions of objects and materials


Step 1: 

Start by going on a walk with your child(ren)  around your neighborhood and collecting items that remind them of fall and Thanksgiving. Nothing is too obscure! 

Step 2:

Once everything is collected, begin to assemble your sensory bin. FIrst, lay down a layer of cornmeal, oats, waterbeads etc as a good base in your large bin.

Step 3:

Next, have the children help you place the items you found on your walk in the bin. They can decide where and how each item is placed.

Step 4:

Add in scoops, cups, funnels, magnifying glasses etc.

Step 5:

Play! Invite the children to explore the different textures, colors and noises each items has. The crunching of the leaves, the weight of the logs, the smell of the pine cones, each object offers such unique sights and sounds!

⬆️ For older preschoolers: This activity is a great way to teach children about weight, comparison and measurement. Ask older children, who has more oats in their cup? How do you know?

⬇️ For younger toddlers: This is a great activity for young children to explore their senses. Ask them to use 4 senses (maybe leave out taste for now!) in this activity. What do they smell, feel, hear and see when exploring the bin?

Playful Questions

How many scoops of oats should we put in the sensory bin?

If we bring home this large branch for our sensory bin, do you think it’ll fit? How do you know?

What colors were the leaves in the summer? Why do you think they changed?

Can you describe the texture of the pumpkins and pine cones? Are they the same texture?

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