One of my favourite things about autumn is the bevy of delicious, fresh apples and plenty of excuses for homemade apple pie.
I figured, what better way to welcome autumn than with an easy and engaging apple pie sensory bin for the kids!
Ella helped me make this sensory bin, which is a great way to encourage children to draw on their sensory memories.
We pulled out a variety of spices from our cupboards and I encouraged her to smell them and see which ones reminded her of apple pie. Cinnamon got an enthusiastic yes, as did nutmeg and tumeric. (Close enough.)
I encouraged her to stir generous amounts of each into a giant bowl of stale oats.
Next, we discussed things we might need while making an apple pie (or apple crisp) and went searching around the kitchen for those supplies – pie plates, measuring spoons, measuring cups, etc. While I acknowledged that apple cutters would be a definite fit for making apple pie, we discussed what possible issues might occur if we included them in a sensory bin (since the toddlers would eventually be playing with it) and we decided they were best left out.
Materials We Used to Make Our Apple Pie Sensory Bin:
- Half a 5lb bag of oats
- Generous sprinkle of cinnamon
- Pinches of nutmeg and tumeric
- Cinnamon sticks
- Tinfoil pie plates
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Mini apples
- Large wooden apples
- Mini apple barrels
We considered adding an apple extract to the sensory bin, but Ella found the scent too overpowering.
We added the small apples I had used in our homemade scented felt apple pie, and some larger wooden apples from our play kitchen. I also had these cute little wooden barrels that reminded me of apple barrels.
Of course, because Ella worked so hard making the sensory bin, I ensured that she had some time playing with it by herself before the other children. (Outside of daycare hours.)
I loved watching her carefully scoop up the oats in the little barrels and then gingerly tap the outs out using her finger – kind of like when you’re trying to loosen a Tic Tac from the container.
And, then — the big reveal!
Ella invited her friends to join her in playing with the Apple Pie Sensory Bin that she had made just for them. They all brought their own interests and play styles to the bin and it was so interesting watching how differently each of them interacted with the same materials:
- comparing the sizes of the apples
- counting the apples
- running the oats through their fingers
- making handprints in the oats with their hands
- scooping the oats with the spoons and measuring cups
- making mini apple pies with the oats and apples
- stirring the oats with the cinnamon sticks and spoons
- knocking the small apples together to make different noises than the large apples (different materials)
- smelling their hands and the cinnamon sticks
- fitting the small apples into the mini barrels
The kids loved all of the play opportunities and sensory delights offered by this apple pie sensory bin, but my favourite part has to be that Ella experienced the generousity of preparing an activity for her friends and witnessed their enjoyment of something she worked hard at.
What kinds of fall-themed sensory bins will you do with your children this season? And I’m curious, what do you think about using food in sensory play?