Did you know that children actually need help learning how to use their senses?
In fact, I’m pretty sure the only sense children come automatically programmed with is the ability to smell you eating a chocolate bar while you’re hiding in your pantry.
In all seriousness, though this fact sounds bizarre, it’s 100% true.
From the day a baby is born, he or she begins to learn about the world through touch, sight, taste, smell, and sound. And as a child gets older, it’s important that you provide him with opportunities to continue to learn through these mediums.
Without exposure to sensory experiences, children can suffer from delayed motor, speech, and other sensory-related skills.
This is why I highly encourage parents to present their kiddos with opportunities for sensory play. Not only is it fun for children, but sensory play activities are also a great way to keep your kids entertained so you can have some “me time.”
Helping your kids develop important skills while also getting 30 minutes of time in which you can use the bathroom without a spectator? Sounds like a parenting win to me!
To get you started, I wanted to share some fun fall-themed sensory play activities that your kids will love. Check them out below!
Put Together a Fall Object Sensory Bin
Putting together a sensory bin filled with different textured objects for kids to play in is a great way to help kids develop fine motor skills and get used to unfamiliar or unknown textures in a safe way.
For this activity, all you need to do is grab a large bin and throw a bunch of different sized and different textured items in for your kids to play with.
I recommend you fill your bin with…
- Crunchy fall leaves
- Candy corn
- Brown rice
- Mini pumpkins
- Popcorn kernels
- Brown, yellow, and orange pompoms
For extra fun, give your kid measuring cups, shovels, and scoops to play with in the bin.
Make Pumpkin Spice Play-dough
Play-dough is super easy and cheap to make. And it’s a great sensory activity!
Best of all, if you add some pumpkin spice seasoning to your play-dough recipe, you can use it as a sensory activity that engages motor skills (touch) and smell.
Here’s a simple play-dough recipe to use:
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs. of pumpkin pie spice
Gut a Pumpkin
Intense kids with sensory aversion will likely need to see you having fun sticking your hands into an ooey gooey pumpkin and pulling out the slimy seeds first. Invite them to give it a try but don’t force them. Just watching is a good baby step in the right, more sensory-ready direction.
This year, grab a pumpkin from your local pumpkin patch (or if you’re limited on time, your grocery store), cut the top off, and if your kid wants to, let him go to town.
Instruct your kiddos to separate the seeds from the goo and place them in a bowl. Once all the seeds are collected, you can roast them and enjoy a tasty, healthy snack together!
Collect Items on a Nature Walk
A nice walk in the woods requires your kid to use 4 out of 5 senses–sight, smell, touch, sound. That is unless your kiddo is into eating mud, sand, or bugs. Then congrats-you can cram in all 5 senses on your nature walk.
As you stroll through the woods (or wherever you’re walking) encourage your kid to pick up acorns, leaves, and rocks, take in the outdoorsy smells, view the pretty flowers, and listen to the birds chirping.
Not only is this fun activity great for sensory play, but with any luck, your little one will be tired and ready to rest when you get home…or at least grounded and less reactive to the usual triggers.
Put Together Fall-Themed Guess Bags
Everyone loves a good guessing game! And this one is very easy to put together and play.
Simply grab a couple of brown paper bags. Then, pick up a few fall-themed objects, like an apple, a pinecone, or a warm, fuzzy sock.
Place all the items in separate bags and then have your children place their hand in the bag and guess what’s inside. This activity helps kids use their sense of touch to strengthen their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Sensory kids with a sense of adventure love this fun game even though it could feel a little frightening at the same time.
On top of sensory play activities helping kids develop important skills, they are also a great tool to use to help calm flustered kids. For more information on how to use sensory play to bring peace and calm into your home, check out my blog in sensory calming activities here.