As we start to go into autumn apple season is in full swing. It is a perfect start of the year unit for toddlers and preschoolers and there are so many ideas that you can do with them. In this simple DIY Sensory Play idea we are creating an apple tree sensory bag that’s perfect for a preschool apple theme. Use the apple sensory bag to work on fine motor skills and counting.
Why Use Sensory Bags with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Sensory bags are wonderful for working on fine motor skills and promoting concentration.
There’s just something about squishing things around in a bag that’s calming. Children focus in on the task and enjoy the sensory experience. You can also add in extra elements like we have with counting, sorting or even learning letters.
Materials Needed for the Apple Sensory Play
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Rubbing alcohol (to remove any labels from the storage bags)
Paper towel or cloth
Permanent marker (I used orange to design my basket.)
Red water beads (Or something else to represent apples. See alternatives below.)
Tape (to seal the bag shut)
Alternatives for Water Beads that you could use in the Sensory Bag
If you don’t have water beads, you can use something similar. I really want to try tapioca pearls. They feel similarly to water beads but they are biodegradable. They are still considered a choking hazard so supervision is a must. The tapioca pearls can be colored when they are boiled before use.
Make one big tree instead of two small trees if necessary.
How to Make your Apple Themed Sensory Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers
I used water beads to represent the apples in the sensory bag. Water beads are squishy and add to the sensory experience. Just be sure to follow the directions for use. You’ll need time to rehydrate them before using. Always supervise and keep the beads inside the bag.
Use a paper towel or cloth and rubbing alcohol to remove any labels from the storage bag.
Cut out your apple trees and basket from craft foam. I used sticky back craft foam so my trees would stay put in the bag. You can also use regular craft foam. Just be aware that the foam can be pushed around inside the bag.
Add a small amount of water to the bottom of your bag. You want to create a thin layer of water on top of the trees when you lay the bag flat. Zip the bag shut and lay the bag flat to see if you have an appropriate amount. Adjust accordingly.
Instead of water, you could use clear hair gel like we did for our Grinch Heart Sensory Bag.
Add some red water beads (or alternative see above) to the bag. Try to remove as much air from the bag as possible. Zip the bag and seal with tape.
As an added precaution against leaks, you can place the apple tree sensory bag in a tray or container.
Move the apples onto the trees. Invite your child to play.
Ask her to move the apples from the tree to the basket.
Count the apples as you go. How many apples are on the tree? How many apples did you add to the basket?
Squishing and pushing the apples around the sensory bag is a great way to work on those fine motor skills. Children are being purposeful with where they are moving the apples.
More Apple Tree Themed Activities for Kids
Apple Tree Gross Motor Game – Get kids moving and practicing numbers.
Apple Tree Math Games – Work on counting, addition, and patterns with these math games inspired by Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3.