A Thanksgiving sensory bin that includes popcorn kernels and cranberries with some Thanksgiving dinner painted rocks. Adaptations for various ages.
Sensory bins are excellent for early learning, and great for children with sensory-seeking behaviors. They provide opportunities for rich learning for kids as children are engaged and using many of their senses during play.
This Thanksgiving sensory bin includes thanksgiving painted rocks to represent a traditional feast. There are so many fun ways to play with this bin for a variety of ages, see specific age recommendations below.
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Thanksgiving Sensory Bin
Sensory bins provide so many opportunities for pretend play and story telling. Use this bin to discuss Thanksgiving as a holiday, and why we celebrate. There was almost certainly corn served at the first Thanksgiving dinner in some form, so we used some popcorn kernels as a fun base here.
I like to use different trays and pans for sensory play depending on what we are doing, but a clear scrapbook paper container like this one with a lid is a sure favorite. When the kids are done playing, I can close it up and save it for another day easily.
What you need for the Thanksgiving sensory bin:
Candy corn (optional)
Fine motor tools
Free Printable Thanksgiving placemat (optional)
What to do to make the Thanksgiving sensory bin:
Assemble the popcorn kernels and cranberries in the bin. I chose these ingredients as they are commonly served and associated with Thanksgiving dinner.
We like to use cranberries in play in the Fall, as it gives children exposure to a new food, and one that they can even choose to taste if they like! (Because we only play with these at home, we rinse them after play and use them in cooking) Check out our cranberry scooping water play bin too!
Add the Thanksgiving painted rocks to the sensory bin base along with some fine motor tools and let children play.
To Use this Sensory Bin with Toddlers:
Toddlers love scooping and transferring. Some small spoons, scoops and funnels are great tools for using with popcorn kernels, and large tweezers or tongs are perfect for cranberries.
*Though these items are technically edible, they could pose a choking risk for small children. Use with adult supervision.
To Use this Sensory Bin with Preschoolers:
Preschoolers are all about pretend play! Set up a mock Thanksgiving dinner for them and engage in some dramatic play and increase their Thanksgiving vocabulary.
Add a printable placemat (free) and a bowl to the play area, and allow kids to explore the materials. Discuss the names of the various foods and let children decide if they would like them on their plate for their own Thanksgiving dinner.
You never know, a child just might decide to get adventurous with their food when it’s only pretend!
To Use this Sensory Bin with Elementary Ages:
This is a great age to further develop vocabulary and practice some early reading skills. On a sheet of paper, write the names of the various foods painted on the Thanksgiving rocks.
Children can read the words and match the rocks to the correct place on the paper. My Kindergartener really enjoyed and took pride in this fun game, then turned all of the rocks over in the sensory bin to choose one, and correctly match it to the paper.
This Thanksgiving sensory bin is such a fun one to play and learn with! Enjoy creating this with your own children, and let us know how you plan to play!