A couple of years ago, my daycare kids and I had fun making a DIY Scarecrow – but it was a lot of work! This year, I thought I’d offer a smaller scale Scarecrow Sensory Bin so they could make mini Scarecrows on a rainy day!
Scarecrow Sensory Bin
I love soaking up as much outdoor time as we can in the fall, as it’s really the perfect weather for kids. No one is getting too much sun or overheating, and the youngest are still able to move about as they are not yet constricted by snow suits and hard-to-walk in boots. (Or crying from the icy cold winter weather.)
It’s also a season of rich sensory experiences – from the brightly colored, crunchy leaves, to helping harvest and close up gardens.
However, we experience quite a few rainy days and storms in late summer and early fall, so I need to have a few rainy day activities planned – but still want to keep the kids active and exploring their senses.
This scarecrow sensory bin was a recent favorite.
From the smooth and shiny corn kernals, to the scratchy, stiff straw, there were plenty of sensory experiences, plus we coupled the “making of our scarecrow” with a couple children’s books on scarecrows to deepen the literacy experience.
This was a much easier experience for the children than last year’s making a full-sized scarecrow, and if you had enough straw, you could allow each child to create their own scarecrow!
Now, I’m sharing this post as part of a monthly Montessori series, which leads to the question:
Are sensory bins Montessori?
While I could craft an argument that suggests that they are – especially since Montessori herself said, “Nothing comes to the intellect that is not first in the senses,” (Secret of Childhood) and the Montessori curriculum has a large emphasis on sensory awareness, in the strictest sense, sensory bins are not Montessori.
However, I do believe sensory bins can fit within a Montessori home – and in our case, preschool/daycare setting.
I strive to make my sensory bins interactive and allow my children to practice concepts that we learn in our Montessori lessons. For example, with this scarecrow bin, children can scoop and pour the corn kernals, and then “dress up” the scarecrow. It incorporates natural materials that my children may not otherwise encounter (popcorn is a bit of a dangerous treat for them to help make with the hot popping kernals and straw isn’t something that many children encounter beyond the occasional farm visit).
Beyond that, I usually use our sensory bins as a transition between free time and moving towards a quieter part of the day – whether a circle time reading, lunch time, or just before naps. It’s a cooperative experience where the kids can sit down and explore together – it is always so interesting to see how they each approach the sensory bin and what they learn from each other’s play.
I always love to pair our activities with picture books – here are a few Scarecrow Picture Books your kids may enjoy reading before or after playing with this sensory bin:
- Scarecrow Pete by Mark Molton
- The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry
- The Scarecrow’s Hat by Ken Brown
- Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant
- A Wizard of Oz Picture Book for Kids
Materials for a Scarecrow Sensory Bin
I also provided scoops but they caused conflict when one child experimented with clanging them together and the others didn’t like that, so we agreed to remove them as we were transitioning to nap time after this activity.
Tip: substitute materials that you already have on hand for these materials, being sure to give a couple of different items for different narratives and imaginative play. If you don’t have straw, you could use leaves or pillow stuffing to form your scarecrow’s body.
How to Make a Scarecrow Sensory Bin
Place all items neatly in a large bin or basket. You can also use a sensory table or a tablecloth on the floor to contain the materials.
(I tend to like putting a tablecloth under the bin for easy clean-up.)
Read a scarecrow book to the children before or while they are exploring the bin. Encourage them to describe the different materials, but allow them time to figure out the different purposes of the bin and how to make their own scarecrow. They may just surprise you.
Grab your free printable for our fall-themed Scarecrow Sensory Bin:
- Straw or Hay
- Doll clothes
- Scarecrow characters
- Crow finger puppet
- Popcorn kernels
- Sensory Bin or Large Basket
- Substitute materials that you already have on hand for these materials, being sure to give a couple of different items for different narratives and imaginative play. If you don't have straw, you could use leaves or pillow stuffing to form your scarecrow's body.
- Place all items neatly in a large bin or basket. You can also use a sensory table or a tablecloth on the floor to contain the materials.
- (I tend to like putting a tablecloth under the bin for easy clean-up.)
- Read a scarecrow book to the children before or while they are exploring the bin. Encourage them to describe the different materials, but allow them time to figure out the different purposes of the bin and how to make their own scarecrow. They may just surprise you.
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I hope you try this fall sensory bin with your kids – and don’t forget to check out these awesome Montessori-inspired activities from my fellow Montessori Moms:
60+ Montessori Activities for Fall – Montessori Fall Themes Free Printable | Natural Beach Living
Fall Printable Pictures in Spanish ~ 3-Part Cards | The Natural Homeschool
How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a Mini Fall Unit | Living Montessori Now
DIY Felt Parts of an Acorn and Life-Cycle | Mama’s Happy Hive
Our Outdoor Autumn Essentials | The Kavanaugh Report
Montessori Inspired Apple Activities | The Pinay Homeschooler